I didn’t realise how competitive Matty was until he hit me with a cricket bat.
We had only been friends a few weeks at that stage, pulled together in the same journalism class, spending our meagre discretionary dollars on pints and wedges with bacon and sour cream at the pub across the road from Broadcasting School.
To be fair to Matty, I don’t think he meant to hurt me. He just meant to give me a little tap. After all, I’d been playing cricket all of my life and Matty had never really played, so it shouldn’t have been much of a surprise that I beat him in our backyard knock around.
Unfortunately though, Matty connected with an old rugby injury which, after surgery and a series of infections had seriously depleted the middle part of my right thigh. I went down.
“I’m sorry.” He said, still looming over me with bat in hand.
“I’m sorry! I just really don’t like to lose.”
Well there’s an understatement.
The good news for me and Matty is our friendship endured the cricket bat test, and indeed the many tests that his competitive nature has thrown forward in the years since.
There have been games nights where Matty’s cycled between gloating and boasting during a round of charades, then packing a sad during pictionary. University drinking competitions where Matty has flirted with passing out rather than conceded that one of his friends is the bigger fish. Indoor netball games where Matty has thrown the ball away or gotten in an argument with the umpire and stormed off in a huff.
Sometimes I think Mother Nature has burdened Matty with a terrible curse. He’s as competitive as an Olympic champion. But when it comes to actual competition, Matty’s not very good.
That being said, that being said, it is impossible not to find Matty’s competitive streak just a little bit endearing. He knows he’s competitive. He tries to maintain perspective and keep his cool. He pretends to have a laugh when he’s losing at Monopoly Deal. And when he was called up and asked to join Celebrity Treasure Island, I couldn’t think of anyone who’d make for better drama.
Matty’s a reality TV tragic and all of his life he’s been strategising about how he’d approach the game if he was a contestant on Survivor or Treasure Island. Who do you form alliances with? Who do you screw over? When do you give in and make a deal to get some more food? Over the last few weeks, Matty’s beaten former All Black Zac Guilford in an elimination challenge, he’s cut down coconuts, survived a mosuito plague, and befriended contestants from all walks of life.
Through it all, Matty has desperately tried to get his team mates to use their brains. He’s pointed out that actually physical strength is only so useful in a Desert Island reality TV competition. Contestants who are good with puzzles and strategy, who are good at making friends and building alliances might prove to be much more valuable than those who boast big arms.
But Matty’s protestations have fallen on deaf ears. His team mates and fellow celebrities have made poor decision after poor decision. He’s had lifetime of planning what he’d do on the show but he could never anticipate turning up with no one else playing the game.
Celebrity Treasure Island left us with a cliffhanger. Matty lost a physical challenge after becoming the first person to be put up for elimination twice.
His team mates have the chance to save him. A mercy card, a get out of jail free if they use it, the most competitive person I know will still be chasing his dream. If they don’t, Matty and all of his reality TV expertise will be gone.
I’ve seen what happens when this guy loses at Gin-Rummy. Trust me New Zealand, they’d better save Matty’s butt.