I guess it’s no secret to any of you that everyone had a blast at the Romantic Times Convention. The Down Under Divas had a particularly good time, what with being released from the bonds of motherhood temporarily. We were on the loose and going wild, I tell you.

There were so many highlights of the trip for me, but none made more of an impression than the Mr. Romance competition. I wasn’t going to go. I was half asleep on the hotel bed when Lexxie Couper encouraged me, politely, to get off my ass and go with her to this shindig. I’m glad I did. I’ve never laughed so much in all my adult life.

Don’t get me wrong. All those guys were cute with a capital C. They each fully deserved a crack at a cover model shoot, and I’d be stoked to have any of them grace one of my own covers. This was serious business. But watching those contestants strut their stuff in the ultimate switcheroo, watching them perform like women have for decades in Miss this or that competitions, tickled my funnybone.

Who could remain unamused when one contestant, dressed as Indiana Jones, tried for the whip action and ended up smacking himself in the face? Who would remain untickled when another hopeful enthused at the opportunity to show everyone his manhood? When the competition’s Mr. Congeniality equivalent was announced, Lex and I, women used to the laconic Australian male, watched aghast as all the contestants hugged him mightily. Hugged him. 

Let me just explain. Aussie guys don’t hug each other unless a final minute goal has been scored. Then, mind you, all bets are off. Arse slapping and neck snuggling abounds. But that’s on the sporting field. On any other occasion that a man achieves something, his Aussie mates may tilt their heads, say something complimentary followed by a swift insult to temper the effect of any increased self-esteem that may ensue from such an effusive display of affection.

For example: Mate number one wins a nobel peace prize. Mate number two reacts: Slight incline of head. Says, “Good on ya.” Follows up with “Wanker.”

Can’t have a mate getting a swelled head after all. The Aussie male is indeed a curious animal. A Mr. Romance Australia competition. Now that would be an interesting sociological experiment. Maybe at ARRC 2013?

* Congratulations to Mr. Romance 2011, Len Gunn. Lex and I cheered our little Aussie hearts out for you! And thanks to everyone involved in organising RT LA. A great time was had by all.