The lady at the counter asked me how she could help me. I told her I was there for the Jello Wrestling match to be held at the hotel. I had already registered online on their site, which saved us ten percent. At fifty dollars, this meant a $5 savings. I told her that every little bit helps. She smiled in agreement, though she was looking confused. I showed her my Regional Conference Champion District 17 – 2022 badge. I don’t like to show off but I have to admit I am kind of proud of this title so I wear my official shirt whenever I travel.
I told her that I needed a place to change. I had my thong in my bag. Being that it was now winter, I also had a onesie to wear underneath. Depending on the heat, I frequently wear the onesie anyway. In the semi-finals in 2017, I finished third in a decision when my opponent ripped my thong with her fingernails. I protested because her fingernails had not been trimmed to regulation. I felt punishing me for her violation of that rule was wrong but I think the shock of the whole episode made the judging committee side with her. It was another disappointment. The first year I used a thong as a uniform, I had not realized there was a front and a back and I put it on backward. At that point, I could not even compete because I did not have sufficient time to correct my wardrobe ‘malfunction’. I was disqualified before I even made it to the Jello pool. Lessons learned.
I told the lady that the website had explicitly assured that the tournament Jello was gluten-free. This was a commission regulation. In the first two seasons (2006 and 2007), non-gluten-free Jello was used and there were negative reactions. The rashes were not transmissible but they were unsightly and it had a negative effect on the participants and the event itself. I asked if the venue could confirm they were in compliance. I have no known problem with non-gluten-free Jello but given that opponents could, I felt it would be a psychological disadvantage to me and anyone not affected to have to grapple with someone with unsightly rashes. The lady at the counter stammered that she did not know what I was talking about.
I also asked about the color of the Jello this year. I try to coordinate my uniform color, which is much at the discretion of the wrestlers, with the jello. This helps with expenses because if the jello color matches the uniform, staining is practically invisible. We learned this the hard way the first year I participated.
Before she could mount any more objections, I asked her if we could check out the PSJWA (Pennsylvania State Jello Wrestling Association) and American flags that would be used in the opening ceremony. I told her that my wife and I would be singing the national anthem. My wife can’t sing but she knows all the words. I have a voice that can pleasantly render almost a full octave. Together we do an acceptable rendition. I also asked if we could do a sound check ahead of the actual performance. We have found it is best to make sure the sound is pre-adjusted for the size and acoustics of the venue.
The lady at the counter was starting to be more insistent on interjecting into the conversation. A couple groups had come up behind us to check in but they did not seem to be impatient. They seemed very interested in my conversation. I suspect they were intrigued by the show. They had not known about it when they made their reservations and no doubt were pleased that they would have something to do that evening.
Without waiting for an answer to my question about the flags and the PA system, I immediately raised the question of dinner arrangements. I told her some venues were ambivalent about this. Some diners are put off at the site of large hirsute bodies grappling in gelatin. Even more important, if there is not sufficient room, there is the problem of splatter. Depending on what is on the menu, Jello splatter can ruin an otherwise enjoyable meal.
The lady at the counter was now squirming uncomfortably and, glancing at her co-worker, said she did not know what to do. The co-worker beckoned to the first couple behind us, clearly wanting no part of the conversation. Her work was complicated because this couple was dividing attention between her and me.
Finally, I asked the lady to whom I had been speaking if we could see this year’s trophies. Strictly speaking, this is against regulation, but I figured this lady probably did not know that, and even if she did, she might show us anyway. Hey, it was worth a shot. Again she protested that she did not know what I was talking about, and that surely all of this was to happen in a different venue.
Of course, by now, you have probably figured out that all of this is silly. There is a restaurant on Route 66 just outside of Leeper, Vincents, which has had a Jello Wrestling tournament annually in August for the last three years or so. One night while I was picking up my order, I told the guy at the register that I was actually there to sign up for the tournament. That person played along. I am sure that I am neither the gender, age, nor body type (proportion) they seek for this tournament. I am sure that I might entertain but it would not encourage a fine dining experience before, during, or after the event. People would say they saw it. Like people talk about seeing multi-car pileups on the Interstate. Or train derailments.
Much of the account of my interaction is true. I do this often when checking into hotels, entering restaurants to get a table, being asked if I need assistance in stores, etc. My wife even made me the official-looking badge pictured above. The best reaction I have had yet was at a hotel in Ohio, where the lady behind the counter, with a straight face, told me that they had had to cancel the event but had neglected to notify the contestants. Nods to her!
Life is short and full but there is always room for Jello Wrestling.