You move to Sydney with your boyfriend, you break up, you move in with a flatmate and an awesome puppy, and life is suddenly smooth.
So, what’s next?
It’s a tale as old as time, or at least as old as Perfect Match.
You go on TV to find true love!
Enter First Dates, the answer to my prayers (the prayers that entailed wanting to go on TV without having to get married to a stranger, leave my job to be entrapped in a lady prison developing Stockholm syndrome, or having to move to a farm with enormous snakes. Genuine snakes, I mean. Brown ones #straya #farms)
This was perfect! All I had to do was show up for dinner and somebody I mean Cupid the TV producers would set me up with a lovely gentleman caller! Obviously, I implicitly trust that TV producers have my best interests at heart so I was ready to sign my life and potential First Born (series tie in pending), away.
In the interests of full disclosure, I must admit I didn’t really apply to be on First Dates. No, I have some PRIDE! Admittedly not much of it, but whatever shred I had left urged me to reconsider dating on TV. Oh I know, it seems like so much fun. What could go wrong? It’s not as though I’ve ever expressed a negative opinion about someone else*, or raised my eyebrows in an expression of schadenfreude, smug victory or both** or told anyone I’d f-ck them up***. There’d be no hope of an editing stitch up…right?
Then again, my conscience reasoned with me: relax. Take your time with this caper. Maybe just…dip a toe in. In other words, don’t eat three custard tarts, Jessica. With that in mind, I settled for being an extra, in the background. This meant that I still got to be set up on a blind date, and eat for free (free!), without humiliating myself in front of the nation. Win!
On the day of filming, I set off for the First Dates restaurant in Sydney, located conveniently above what I had always thought was a downmarket pokies arcade. As I walked upstairs in a “colourful oufit as it’s going to screen in summer” as per the instructions from the producer, I suddenly thought, what the fuck am I doing?
But it was too late for that rare flash of lucidity! I was ushered inside a bar, given twenty million forms to sign and introduced to the other daters. As I listened to a girl in fluorescent yellow with a perm tell me about her three prior dates on TV, I noticed a bunch of people huddled in the corner, all dressed in black, eating meals furiously like Jaws on a fat seal, or Roy Scheider. “The crew,” said the producer. “They haven’t eaten all day.” So glamorous, right?
Then we were ushered into a corridor lined with a red carpet and aggressive red paintings of enormous hearts (so far – unbroken). “Don’t trip on the cords and line up in order of height,” said the producer. So glamorous, right?
Finally, the moment had arrived. My blind date was lined up next to me! He was tall, with fashionable stubble and a crisply ironed shirt.
“Hi, I’m Caolan,” he said. “Hi, I’m Jess,” I said. Kal-El, I heard, because I don’t listen. His parents named him after Superman. That seems crueler than the parents of one of my video store customers, whose name was Stuart Stewart. Until First Dates found another Stuart Stuart and put him on TV. What’s wrong with parents? Seriously.
“Are your parents Superman fans?” I asked him later, over dinner.
“Ummmm…no,” he said, and that’s when he realized that I don’t listen, and he patiently explained that his name is actually Irish, which was my cue to explain to him what I don’t like about the Catholic Church and he politely pretended to care.
After a three course meal and me inadvertently ruining several TV shots upon my exit (again, the not listening thing) my foray into TV dating was over. Somehow I’d managed to convince Caolan to be my friend, which was a miracle given he seemed halfway normal, I lectured him on feminism and there was actually a much hotter Lebanese girl there.
All that’s left to do now is obsessively watch First Dates and try to decide if I should apply for the next season. I’ve brushed up my chat and am ready and willing to talk about Australia’s heinous treatment of refugees, which as you’ll agree, is perfect over dinner conversation and exactly what reality shows are looking for.
I can see my Gold Logie now.
*Maybe one time
**Maybe, like, a few times
***Ok, well, they deserved it, the assholes.