Right now, my house looks like something out of a Dr. Seuss novel. Our garden is bright pink, squishy and arguably smells and tastes pretty damn good. This may be because we've dumped 300L of premium non-toxic wrestling jelly around our entire house. Don't judge! The thought of carrying a swimming pool full of jelly to the dumpster at the end of the street is quite disheartening on a Sunday morning.
Why did we have 300L of jelly in a pool in our living room? I'm still asking myself the same question.
In a joint effort to make the most of our dwindling weeks in Alabama, our house decided to host the event of the year. We wanted to baffle the local Alabamians and make them wonder just how strange international students are - spoiler alert: we succeeded. After taking inspiration from our exchange predecessors (a group of rowdy boys who originally coined the idea in their last semester of exchange at Alabama), we decided to host a jelly-wrestling event. It was relatively unheard of, would provide hilarious entertainment for our guests, and most importantly, go down in history with this batch of internationals.
We ordered the jelly, filled the blow-up pool, and orchestrated a guest list through a process of inviting anyone we knew/met in the week leading up to it. We were so obsessed with getting multitudes of people at this party that I totally forgot I would need to lather myself in jelly and fight in front of all of them.
As the weekend approached, my nerves built. I hesitantly watched the jelly set throughout the day. We planned our outfits, our walk-on songs and the presentation of player profiles (so much effort went into this event). As it got closer, I became more and more doubtful in my ability to willingly make a fool of myself in the jelly.
I have always prided myself in my confidence. I try to never be fake and preach the need to disregard what others think of me. However, when your living room fills with eager college students (90% of whom are strangers) chanting to see the entertainment they were brazenly promised, it's fair enough to have a moment of self-consciousness.
My fellow party host — also the most courageous, carefree and funny person I know — approached me in-between mingling with guests. "We need to wrestle," she said. "The crowd is at its peak, and they're all waiting." She was right. I could feel their hunger for our humiliation in the air. We were the zoo animals, and they had come to see us.
I shook my head. There was no way I could live up to the expectations of this untamed crowd — I was in way over my head. I fumbled with excuses, "someone else should go first! I'm not even dressed and I" — she stopped me. Handing me a drink, she pleaded once more with her eyes. It was time.
I skulled the drink, changed into my warrior outfit and wrestling robe and took to the stage. Cheers erupted from the crowd, not for me personally, but for the prospect of entertainment at our expense.
I tried not to look anyone in the eyes — maybe I could avoid being identified as that girl who rolled around in jelly in future scenarios if I didn't let anyone see my face. My internal monologue began, a welcomed distraction to the voracious onlookers. I reminded myself that I wanted to do this. Wrestling in jelly is such a fun concept, and I had been excited for the entire week. I'd never get to participate in something this strange and hilarious again, so why was I so scared?
I looked over at my fellow host. She was laughing along with the crowd and seemed to be enjoying every moment of it. As I sat across from her in that $40 Target blow-up pool, watching her giggle at how silly we were, I felt ultimate respect towards her. It takes a certain (fabulous) kind of person to forego any and all embarrassment and find humor in their own bizarre actions. She didn't take herself seriously at all. She knew this was crazy, and yet she was totally unashamed. The crowd respected her for putting herself out there. I know I'll always think back to that moment and remember how much I valued her for attaining that quality.
So many eyes were on us, and for the first time all night, there was silence. Our referee and jelly life-guard counted us in. Three… two… one… GO!
I don't even remember the match. All I remember is rolling around in a big bowl of jelly with another girl while the crowd yelled and screamed in disbelief that this was actually happening. Most of my concentration went into trying to not wet myself while hysterically laughing.
Those three rounds of jelly-wrestling were some of the most fun I have ever had. We sparked an entire night of matches, bringing strangers together to dive into the slime. I walked around with pride. All inhibitions were released. It might have just been the drink I skulled prior to the match, but I remember feeling absolutely invincible like nothing could embarrass me. I knew I would never let the fear of what others might say about me stop me from having fun. I could put myself out there in front of a total crowd of strangers, and if they didn't like it then it wouldn't be my problem.
For those who have never dabbled with jelly-wrestling, I highly recommend. It's a fantastic way to build confidence, make new friends, and create a lasting impression of how strange international students are. We can now confidently say we've left our mark in Alabama... Literally — our living room floor is stained red.