A tale of live poetry, Elvish language lessons, and too many blindfolds
I did it. Finally did it. No, I did not make it a week without getting ghosted for date #2, and no, I didn’t break the news to my parents that I completely forgot about Hanukkah. Something more important happened, much more important — perhaps even life-changing.
I, Harrison Tyler Forman, the first of my name, was casted for a show I’m all too familiar with! A show I co-created & produce with my guy Brandon Berman; a show my friends & family have been practically bribing the creators to see me on — that’s right, I was casted for UpDating.
Before the cries of nepotism come out, I was casted for UpDating just like everyone else; by applying through our rigorous application, removing myself from the entire casting process, and, like so many New Yorkers, anxiously awaiting the casting decision which would grant me the experience of a lifetime.
Now, I’d be lying if I said removing myself from the casting process wasn’t difficult. Once I knew I was going to be on the show, endless, tireless, grappling anxiety piled in on the only question that mattered: who was my date going to be? My trust & potential love life fell into the hands of my co-collaborator, Berman, and I couldn’t help but try to poke for details. Was she cool? Will I be in a birthday I’ll never forget? WHO IS SHE?! Wait, but actually, WHO IS SHE?
Truth be told, I thought he would cave and fill in any details on who she was but the man stuck to the process & plan: to keep me in the dark so I could go through the entire UpDating experience like everyone else. I received one line: “you’ll be in for a treat tomorrow.” Looking back now, I’m pleased to say the casting decision was more than a treat: it was an 8-course Michelin star meal.
After helping produce nearly 40 of these shows, I was ecstatic to go through the dater experience just like everyone else to:
- See what all the damn hoopla was all about.
- Better empathize with the fearless, incredible daters we have on our show.
- To see if my date could become a famed UpDating success story
- Experience a birthday extravaganza that was shaping up to be my second Bar Mitzvah.
- See #3. Find love. Duh.
The date was set. My female counterpart blindly casted for me, venue locked & loaded and my grandparents & rabbi — praying she’s Jewish. The show — sold out. UpDating’s 12/13 — go-time.
After getting rushed into the green room to avoid my dater and given AirPods by the production assistants (standard UpDating policy), I couldn’t help but notice the nerves I had before the show. I was schvitzing and the ruminations started piling in:
What if she doesn’t like me? What if my original poem and flowers I brought for her completely missed the mark? What if my ex girlfriends watched the livestream? What if I was forced to talk about my deepest, darkest fantasies?
The nerves rocked back & forth from fear to excitement, but nothing could change what was about to happen: walking onstage to a crowd of 100+ people about to watch me attempt to successfully go on a blind date.
Family members & friends all watching me (for the umpteenth time) put it all out there for the world to see. Although this time it would be slightly different than the Bar Mitzvah dancing days of my past: a wonderful woman awaited to join this journey with me.
As I sat back & admired the darkness of the blindfold while bumping Rufus Du Sol into my AirPods, a sort of sixth sense called to me back-stage that there was a certain aura in the air that my match tonight would be excellent.
Once I made my debut on stage for my pre-interview with Berman, the electricity of the crowd was something resembling a Super-Bowl level hype. Their eyes glued on my wavering steps & flinches. Their ears fixated to the inner workings of my dating life (the need for “edge”), my foibles & San Francisco exes, and the reason as to why I was still single today (hint: “I haven’t found the energy match dude…not yet”).
Moments later, it happened. Our blind date started and instantly, my breath was taken away in a moment that could only match that of when Harry when met Sally. She opened the date by kissing my forehand “adieu” and in a romantic accent I originally guessed to be Portugese. She then introduced herself as “Lauren” (…saving the name for privacy purposes & yes, my name was forgotten multiple times during our date) & we dove right in!
To say we we hit it off from the getgo would be an understatement. Our conversation (& future 💋) with the blindfolds on saw it all:
- She openly addressed her infatuation with Jewish men, specifically “tall and handsome” Jewish men who are great kissers. Let’s take out the tall.
- After I taught her Yiddish (well, mostly just the only word i know, “schvitz”), my date enthralled me with a hidden language I only thought existed in Lord of the Rings — Elvish.
- Exchanging pleasantries around the sizes and feel of our respective earlobes (later followed by a brief smell of our armpits).
- Shared a brief electric kiss after describing the suppleness of our respective lips (yep, this is when my sister put the blindfold on).
- Riveting discussions over the importance of the PISCES horoscope & why Harrisons’ and Henrys’ have more in common than you think.
The thoughts racing through my mind after these moments were nothing short of positive disassociation.
Did the Swedish painter of my dreams actually just kiss me with blindfolds on? What was going to happen with the blindfolds off? Would she still be into me? Ah, what if she’s disappointed?! Was I becoming a part of UpDating history? Was this date actually going to lead into a second date? Did my grandmom just watch us makeout?!
…and that’s only 20% of the questions that popped into my brain at these pivotal moments!
When the blindfolds came off, I was stunned. Not only was she gorgeous with an indescribable energy, which I subsequently said to her in front of the entire audience, it appeared (GASP) she was still into it!
My fears of our chemistry waning without the blindfolds were later put to bed instantly as we threw our chairs & table to the side of the stage to lie down next to each other for a brief moment only Shakespeare, Drake & probably Leonardo Dicaprio could relate to: I read her my poem and asked for a second date:
They say a blind date on stage has a lot that can go wrong;
But after these few minutes with you, it’s clear date 2 is where we belong.
At this moment, speechless pandemonium hit the crowd. Audience members shrieked in delight at our chemistry & the UpDating success story taking place. Even Berman was speechless, taking a seat with the front row of the crowd oo’ing and ah’ing at these intimate moments only found UpDating.
After the poem ended, we exchanged another earth-shattering kiss, but what followed was the most confusing five minutes of my life.
In the final minutes of the show, my heart dropped. My date grabbed the mic and started advertising my dating services for the audience:
“This boy is handsome. He’s great. So freaking great. Line up for him ladies.”
Me, practically crying:
“But what about us, Lauren? What about the magic we’ve had together? What about our second date?!”
Her whispering in my ear:
“Let’s talk after, there’s some news.”
When the show ended (emphatically after a duet of “this man is incredible” no no no “this woman is incredible”), I was in a state of shock. Bewildered. Confused. Elated. Confused even more.
Silence even met my glimmering Hail Mary of a line at the end of the show: “how do we avoid typical New York City dating where we just hit it off for two hours only for one of us to ghost the other preventing a second date from happening?”
Did that just happen? Where are my friends? Wait, that’s my sister right there. Ugh, my date though!
As I slipped down the staircase, we finally had a moment alone outside of the bar:
“Don’t fall in love too quickly. It’s complicated.”
Huh, what’s complicated? Weren’t we just making out on stage in front of 100 people 10 minutes ago?
“I’m moving to Sweden.”
Wait, which Sweden? You mean the Swedish part of New York, right? Similar to Little Italy, but Little Sweden?
“No, like Sweden. Sweden.”
Oh, awesome! Like in a few months, right? When is best for date #2? Tuesday or Wednesday? I know a great spot in the West Village called Emily!
“Nope, next week.”
Mic drop. Speechless. It was over.
Well, I’ll move to Sweden too…..
For a brief moment, the “high” of our magical (and it was MAGICAL) date subsided by a feeling of isolation. Once I heard the bad news, the after-party elation (and “late-night shenanigans” I had dreamt about over the past hour) lost a bit of the sizzle. We almost made out two times afterwards but she was bombarded by close to a dozen friends, females interested in her, men interested in her and when it was all said & done — something was off, missing from the equation. Our relationship would end tonight and only now was I coming to grips with that.
We exchanged a few brief DM’s and texts over the weekend (no, she devastatingly did not even exchange my IG follow with a follow back of her own) and a woman I will never forget the rest of my life metaphorically (and digitally) drifted away. Of course, the physical drifting away happened a week later as her IG Story sealed our fate:
“Bye new york. Forever.”
The dagger. My Swedish UpDating Success Story had come to an end.
The comedown over the next week was sort of surreal — a mythical week filled with “Harrison, I need the deets” from about a dozen friends, my endless searching of the perfect photos to share on my IG celebrating the joyous evening, and the occasional Google Flights search for NYC > Stockholm.
After going on UpDating & remaining single in the process, you begin to walk through the streets & world with a different hint of confidence (despite the continued what if’s and self-questioning a hopeless romantic can only dream of ridding himself of). It’s a badge of honor. A right of passage. A manifest destiny in the confusing world of modern dating only few can relate to. An honest, hilarious show I’ve now told thousands of people can really change humanity & culture.
Most importantly, I learned more about my peculiarities, my “type” (she’s not a figment of my imagination), and my own self-professed power existing deep within all of us that the best therapist in Manhattan would have taken months to discover…
More than all of that, I’ve never been more proud to be a part of this wild journey and to work with such an incredible team from my creative partner & host, Brandon, to our sensational production coordinators and most importantly, the best live audiences in New York City.
As for what’s next? Well, the single life continues on & I’ll just have to keep my Bookmarked folder “WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN” with all of the amenities of my future west village apartment with the charcoal ritual candle, new west elm furniture, and our Blue Apron referral codes!
In other words, the unknown of the infinite abyss of modern dating awaited me. And I am more than okay with that.