Menachem's Writings

On the Psychology of Sex and Wombats

Psychologists inform us that we don't really remember past events but rather we recall our last memory of an event. So as time passes, our true recollection dims. I haven't heard of this argument being used in a court of law (perhaps it has, I'm not a solicitor) as an excuse for obstructing justice, but given some of the psychologically based excuses used today, I think it may be useful to some criminal at some time.

I've never been too crazy about spectator sports — I'm a believer that sport is about donning a pair of shorts and hitting the paddock, pool or court, in person. So as a youngster I never followed a team in any sport, and, other than to not appear a total social outsider, I didn't take too much note of the weekend scores.

I once put my proverbial "big foot into it" at a 1971 meeting with Professor Rupert Myer, Vice-Chancellor of the University of New South Wales, in a vain attempt to lobby him to drop Saturday [read Shabbat] morning exams. He listened sympathetically though he was not moved. He said that there really wasn't much choice given the increasing number of subjects offered, the growing student body and the limited time of the exam period. I innocently retorted, "So you may have to consider Saturday afternoon exams too at some point in the future?" To which he replied, "Certainly, but then we run into to that other great religion".

Much to the chagrin of Bernie, my partner in crime at the meeting, I politely, innocently responded, "Excuse me sir, to which religion do you refer?"

He of course was referring to Saturday Rugby League, and he was correct in his assumption that this did reach religious realms in Sydney. [Melbourne's Aussie Rules had an even greater effect on the local populace, though they never had Saturday exams down there.]

The other phenomenon I wish to note is the increasing interest in things from back home by expatriates. My friend, Howard, left Australia, in 1974, on aliya. I am sure he very quickly lost interest in Sydney's football, and to a large extent, most of what was happening in Sydney other than relating to his family and a few close friends (who eventually joined him here).

It was hard in those days of only one Israeli television station (which included an hour and a half of prime-time Arabic programming thrown in) oriented to Europe and the U.S., to keep track of Sydney's goings-on. I remember, in 1976, the time the two of us, with another three or four expats, trekked to Ramat Gan to watch Israel play the Socceroos. As it was an afternoon game, and just a friendly, the stands were quite empty. We were armed with an oversized Australian flag and sat, waving it, in a deserted part of the stands. Australia won 1-nil and we were lucky to leave the grounds alive. I think it was the last time I saw Australia play.

To state the obvious, the Internet has changed our world and the way we function in it. We have renewed old friendships via tools like Facebook and Twitter. We share and spread our ideas. We meet our friends' friends and achieve new relationships. We expose more today about ourselves, to people we do not know but who are listening, than we used to tell our close acquaintances. Sydney's radio 2UE is playing in the background as I write and I am free to call into the show, live. Phoning Sydney in the mid-eighties could be a full evening activity.

And amongst all the renewal, some have returned to their old teams.

So I should not have been overly surprised at Howard's Sunday Facebook post, "36-10 raps it all up. Wonderful way to start the season".

It was cryptic to me. Autumn has just commenced Down Under, but I had no idea about what he was talking.

Until Dani came to the rescue, "If you follow Easts [Rugby League] it is, but not if you are a fan of the Rabbitohs ..." The penny dropped.

Howard's response: "Always been a Rooster".

They have a strange custom in Sydney, naming sports teams after animals. And I, except in some rare cases, fail to see the connection between the sport, the animal or the district represented. I also never understood why the fans of these animals allowed one team to usurp the non-animal title, "the Saints". However they are also called the dragons, a noble beast, though a beast none-the-less.

Australians also like to add an 'o' to proper nouns, often after abbreviating them. So John becomes Jono, Kevin becomes Kevo and Rabbits become Rabbitohs.

Dani's above statement is informing us that, while he now lives over five hundred miles from Sydney, he continues to follow the South Sydney team, the losers of Saturday's game, while Howard, who lives far further away, still supports Eastern Suburbs.

All this farm talk is too much for me, so I throw in a diversionary comment, based on a joke from our high school days, back in the sixties. I assumed everyone of my vintage remembers it. I inscribe, "I prefer wombats", cackling loudly to myself as I write.

The joke, which isn't that funny today, still causes me laugh each time the word wombat is mentioned. It is my last memory, read laugh, that continues my intrigue with this poor animal which resembles a horizontal koala. I certainly don't remember where I heard the joke, or when I last repeated it.

The joke (readers under 25 years of age are kindly requested to skip the remainder of this paragraph, unless they are holding their parents' hands) relates to a lady who meets a guy and brings him back to her flat. She prepares dinner after which they retire to the bedroom to do whatever comes natural to little boys and girls. When she awakens in the morning, he of course has disappeared, leaving behind a piece of paper on which is scribbled the single word, "wombat". She looks "wombat" up in her dictionary and finds the definition, "eats roots and leaves".

Howard answers, "That's because you like the water" to which I respond, wondering what was missed in my deviation from footie, "Wombats don't swim!? That's platipii".

Howard is onto me, but still doesn't pick up on the wombat. "Your swimming is not related to the animal but only to the fact you don't like Rugby League."

I won't bore anyone with the rest of the post, but I spin out the yarn over a number of posts until I eventually reveal the punchline.

"Oh, now I remember."

Howard's cousin Phil (whom I haven't seen outside of FB in forty years) did come in with the correct punchline, and also informed us that there is a team called "Coogee Wombats". Whatever game they play?!

Menachem Kuchar, 20th February, 2010    
4th Adar, 5770    

Menachem Kuchar, 22nd February, 2010 6th Adar, 5770

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