Date number 18, as she had been introduced, Amy seemed just like every other girl I had met on the show. The non-descript padded white room we would be having lunch in had provided the backdrop to a series of rejections that had hit a little too close to home for me.
The dates had always started promising, but each and every one of these girls had revealed themselves to be vapid, shallow husks of people, lacking anything that could vaguely be identified as a personality.
I personally thought that they were only on the show to shamelessly market their Instagram accounts where they purported to be models in order to hide the fact that most of them had either given up on their dreams after just barely scraping by enough money to keep the lights of their crappy apartments on, but I digress.
I arrived before Amy, typical as the girls always seemed to be late. As I took my seat, the producer began speaking to me over the intercom speaker.
"Welcome back Omar, how are you feeling about this one?"
If I wasn't aware that I was being filmed I would've rolled my eyes at this question. "Pretty good, pretty good. 18 is the lucky number right?" Trying to be funny is usually a good way to endear yourself to the viewing audience.
Producer-guy gave no indication as to whether he found it funny or not. Instead, he droned on and on about the rules of the show, almost as if he was reading this stuff off a cue card. Almost.
I can't really blame the guy, most people he gives this spiel to are on the show for their first or maybe second time. But for me, this was about to be attempt number EIGHTEEN at finding love on reality television.
Why they kept calling me back onto the show I had no idea, but I wasn't ready to call it quits. Because for all the things my previous dates had said I was, I was no quitter.
Seeing Amy for the first time was the final confirmation I needed that they must be getting these women off of some sort of template. I am not being funny when I tell you I could not pick any of my first 17 dates out of a lineup. And Amy was no different. She had a relatively inoffensive face, and a cookie cutter "I am an influencer hear me roar" body type. If she had been assessing me as she walked in she definitely didn't make it obvious.
"Hi, I'm Amy!" She introduced herself as she took her seat. Her tone was the first strike with her; she introduced herself like she believed that I already knew who she was. I sighed internally, yet another self-obsessed girl, chasing fame on reality TV.
I didn't let any of these thoughts be apparent though, no matter how bad I thought she was I wasn't prepared to let there be a date 19 on this show.
"Great to meet you, Amy! I'm Omar," I extended my hand for a handshake which she accepted though laughing as she did. I think I may have held the handshake for a millisecond too long, almost imperceptible but makes all the difference.
"Nice to meet you too Omar," she began. "Although I'd be lying if I said I haven't seen you on this show before."
Well, at least she was upfront about it. When you'd been on a show through 4 different seasons it only made sense that someone new coming on the show would've seen you at least once.
"Oh yeah?" I made an attempt to laugh it off. "Well, hopefully this is the last time I'm seen here yeah?"
She giggled, although it didn't sound incredibly genuine.
Since she had already seen me on this show enough times, I decided to keep the conversation focused on her.
"So tell me about yourself, what makes you tick? Why are you on this show instead of several random dating apps like everybody else?" I asked putting my hands together on the table.
"Well you know, not much to tell on that subject." She leaned in as she spoke. "I guess it's just easier on here, you know? For all the fake things we see on reality TV at least everyone's intentions for being on the show are made clear. No wondering whether or not the person you're sitting across is looking for the same thing you are."
Huh. That's a new one
By the end of the date it was clear that looks had been deceiving and I had misjudged Amy.
On the surface she was just like every other person that came on reality TV claiming to be after love, but in our hour together I really SAW her. I saw the things that don't get pointed out on dating profiles. The relentless optimist that managed to view a dating show as a way to find real, genuine people. People like me. Like the girl who believed in fighting for her dreams, no matter how many "day-jobs" you had to get to do this. Dreams like finding the one. That's who she was for me. The one.
Once filming was done Producer-guy let us know that we'd be informed if our dates wanted to keep in touch with us. This was a no-brainer for me, and it should've been the moment that any possibility of date 19 was taken off the table.
When the episode was on television, I got to see some rather, unpleasant outtakes.
Whereas my "confessional" interviews reiterated my points about her being different, hers brought me up in a... slightly different light.
"He just comes off as very self-involved," the talking head of Amy began. "Like the way he brings his points across, almost dismissively, like no one else's viewpoint matters. Rubs me the wrong way." She went on and on about how apparently awful our date had been. This was a heartbreaking development, but not surprising. Yet again, just like every other girl. Despite this, when my phone rang later that night, I couldn't help but hope it would be her.
"Hello? This is Omar."
"Omar? It's Ryan, the producer of the show. Listen we want to get you back on for another appearance, what do you think?"
I let the static go out into the world for a moment, as I thought of how much of a kick a guy like him must get out of my suffering. I suppose guys like him never had to worry about two-faced girls telling people about how awful they were after doing nothing but come onto them. Of course she wasn't the one on the phone, she was probably calling other guys as we spoke.
"Yeah sure. 19 is the lucky number right?"