Getting to TakePart Live was not the easiest thing I’ve done this past year. (Yes, I’d wager that organizing a cross country dating trip was indeed simpler for me.) Because to get to #TPL, I had to fly there and back again, a round trip consisting of precisely 15 hours. Nerves got the best of me, and I walked to two wrong gates before landing at the correct departure gate. Next up, I spent fifteen minutes choosing an in-flight magazine (you’d have thought magazine selection was the most important thing I’d done for humanity in 2013) and had to leave the news-stand once for an intermission because the selection process was getting emotional. Eventually, I had a drink, got on my bird, and thanked my lucky stars that Virgin America plays calming music and keeps the lights dim when you board.
Also, I’m sure everyone on the plane thanked their lucky stars I’m a soft sobber. I cried for the first half of the flight before zoning out completely while an episode of Seinfeld played. I’m definitely shaking Jerry’s hand if I ever meet him for his part in quelling my flood of anxiety. This was however, the first time I was on a plane with a loud-sobber: a baby, to be exact. Considering my extreme anxiety, I barely noticed. I think I was the only one who felt reasonably soothed by the constant distraction from the fact that we were in the air.
Megan met me at LAX and I’m pretty sure I begged for food – my nerves had ensured I’d consumed the bare minimum during the day. She whizzed us through LA traffic all while talking boys and dating, plus making sure we felt ready for the interview, and finally stuffed me with French fries and a Diet Coke before we pulled up to the studio. We were early, so we munched in the comforts of Megs’ Honda Fit, Jazz. Sometimes I feel like I’m cheating on Huckleberry Fit when I enjoy moments in the same model car, but then I remind myself we’re talking cars here. (Is there a word that means “has empathy for inanimate beings?” I digress, but seriously…I have that.)
Perhaps the weirdest moment of the day took place right after this. Megs and I got out of Jazz, stretched our legs, then went to the studio door (which to me, looked a lot like a place one goes to when they’re trying to hide something: nondescript, silent, warehouse) and were let in by a girl. As we were early, she showed us to the bathroom to primp. My idea of primping was frantically changing my clothes and sucking on the Diet Coke like maybe, just maybe, it was going to save my life. After anxiety pills and alcohol, I needed to perk up.
And here’s the weird moment: at some point, there was knock on the bathroom door and a different girl poked her head in. “Oh hi!” she said breathlessly. “We thought we lost you two! Been looking everywhere!” And she proceeded to suggest we head to our dressing rooms.
As we walked through a maze of halls, Megan whispered, “This is so weird. Normally I’m the one looking for people, worried I’ve lost those who I’m in charge of.” And that’s when I realized that someone was in charge of both of us. It was someone’s job not to lose me. Weird.
Weirder still was the fact that we were each ushered into our own dressing rooms. Not just a tiny space with a mirror, but a room bigger than my kitchen with a couch, vanity, breath mints, and two kinds of water. Holy moly. I sure wasn’t going to say no to that. Megan and I have spent a lot of nerve-wracking hours together – and the idea of spending these nerve-wracking minutes in separate rooms was ludicrous. We filled out paperwork in one room, then met our producer, Alex, in the next. It was now Alex’s job not to lose us.
Alex is part of a growing breed of hipster I’m increasingly in contact with. These people have the look – (Alex was adorned in pearl buttoned-down shirt and slim jeans) but instead of being overly uptight or overly laid back, they also have extreme confidence that doesn’t ooze and overwhelm, but rather just is. I’m tempted to call them adult-hipsters, but that doesn’t feel right…I digress. Our conversation was 50/50 specific with anecdotes, plus trying to get Alex to open up about life as a dater in LA. No dice. We were ushered past a stylish (who gave us a thumbs up) and then onto a makeup artist instead.
No, really. An intimidatingly hip woman named Valerie freshened us up and made sure we weren’t going to look bad, while a producer named Comma made sure someone fetched us glasses of wine. There was light banter between the coworkers, while I tried not to get a wide-eyed, deer-in-the-headlights look that I knew Megan would catch. I also tried not to worry that Val would attempt to use an eyelash curler on me.
We were ushered to the green room next. “The Green Room” is really a fancy way of saying “a holding stall.” We sat down amidst plastic glasses of wine and a cheese spread, and began chatting with the other guests for the evening – a Pepperdine University professor and Daniel Maree, founder of A Million Hoodies for Trayvon Martin. The professor was not terribly interested in dating, but Daniel was. He shared his thoughts as a single guy living in NYC – namely that girls want to get too attached too fast (to which Megan said, “Gosh, I feel like the opposite is true in the Bay Area and for me!”). The guy had a head on his shoulders that probably belonged on a 35 year old instead of a 25 year old. He was rad.
Eventually, we were all shuttled over to the set, where we were going to be mic’d. These were fancypants mics, which had cords going up into our ears so we’d hear any audio being played. I tried not to make a face as the very nice man, Allen, put my mic on. It’s just that…I have tiny ear canals, which makes it hard to get ear plugs and blue teeth (tooths?) and anything else except earbuds to stay put in my ears. Within moments I knew that earpiece would be sticking out, making me look like a dating cyborg.
What happened next happened fast. Megs and I sat down on a couch. I fiddled with my earpiece, Megs stood up to get her purse, and Alex ran over and told her to sit – he’d fetch anything she wanted. She sat back down, and then suddenly, it was our turn. Chairs were adjusted, Val was suddenly touching us up, and then a teleprompter started rolling and the host started talking and shazam! We were being interviewed.
After proving that we call the guys by their state names and not their real names (we were quizzed on it) and chatting about traveling together and the state of dates, the interview was over and we said a round of thank you’s before leaving.
“Drink?” Megan asked me.
“Sure,” I replied. I pulled out my phone, found the three closest bars, picked one based only on the fact that it had board games and accepted credit cards, and off we went.
Felt like old times.