That One Time I Cast My IRL Crush (Kinda) to Play My On-Screen Love Interest

… and then proceeded to have a lot of feelings about it for an entire weekend.

We begin production on the web series this upcoming Friday. In three days, the past four months of writing, sending emails, and creating spreadsheets will culminate in us beginning our first 10+ hour shooting day! I am incredibly proud and excited. I’m trying to ignore the fact that I haven’t memorized my lines yet… and that my hair, eyebrows, and teeth look fucked up. I will have to get over my self-consciousness and body image issues, because nobody got time fo’ that.

We sent out the last of the finalized scripts on Thursday or Friday. I haven’t discussed the project in detail on here, but it’s basically a fictionalized version of our lives and friendship. We’ve changed some names, combined some personalities to make for more interesting characters, and exaggerated/consolidated some events. But for the most part, we are writing what we know: Being two Black women in their mid-to-late twenties, and trying to balance relationships/dating, money, working, and pursuing our dreams. I believe the show is funny and well-written, but I’m obviously biased.

As we both needed a compelling romance story for the season, I decided to write about a “situation” I was in (as in, not really a situation that I wasn’t even really in) a year ago. Of course my friend has her long-time boo thang, who she will probably marry. And of course, they have all their issues and quirks. But in my perpetual single-dom, I didn’t have any of that. I have a lot of crushes who don’t amount to anything, so I decided to write about that. Last summer, I met this guy through aforementioned sistafriend/collaborator/co-creator. And I just thought he was so fine. After a month of asking my friends what to do, I asked him out on a “coffee date,” which is like a real date… except much more ambiguous. (The same amount of anxiety-inducing pressure to not be a weird asshole, though.)

We went on the coffee date. I had a great time. He was funny. He was smart. He was cute. He was interesting and we had things in common, mostly that we’re both (a) Black(-ish); (b) writers and performers; and (c) live in the same general area. He was the first “new” person I had liked in a very long time. And if I’m being quite honest, I felt like he could possibly be someone I could “date” without wanting to be too involved. So, I kept pursuing it because I had a lot of time on my hands and a lot of warm, tingly feelings that I didn’t know what to do with. To make a long story short, things culminated (meaning: fizzled out in anti-climactic disappointment) when he told me he wasn’t interested.

My pride was wounded. My feelings were hurt. I felt embarrassed. And it brought up a bunch of residual, unpleasant feelings from He Who Shall Not Be Named. Mostly, I felt undesirable once again. And honestly, since last summer, I really have closed myself off again to having romantic feelings about others.

Anyways…

I decided to write about that guy in the web series, because it perfectly captures my awkward semi-aversion to dating… but also, it was full of the mystery and intrigue that all great romantic comedies are made of. As we continued to write this first season, I kept envisioning said guy as the character. And when it came time for us to talk about casting and hold auditions, I told my sistafriend, “Hey, I know this may be a bit much… but I think _______ should play himself.” We giggled a lot, realizing how ridiculous—but also, kind of perfect—this thought was. When we announced auditions, we made sure he saw the character breakdown. And what do you know? He, too, thought he would be a great fit for the role of “John.” Although there are some very distinctive, very funny scenes that take place in the series that allude to what happened between me and him, we mostly thought he wouldn’t pick up on it. I am usually way more zeroed in on the small minutiae of relationships (I mean that in the platonic, general sense) than other people, so I didn’t think he’d remember a lot of what happened. And—yes, this is going to sound fucked up—we thought he was too “Guy Dumb” to ever make the connection.

But he did make the connection. And he proceeded to ask my sistafriend and her boyfriend if we had written the show about him on Friday night, when we were all at an open mic. At first, I thought it was hilarious. (I still do. It continues to be a great story that only gets better.) But then, I felt really uncomfortable and vulnerable about the whole thing. I think maybe it just re-triggered those feelings of being undesirable, rejected, and embarrassed again. And also, I’ve never known how to be “just friends” with a guy immediately after I’ve liked him. Yes, he and I are friendly. But we’re not kicking back and drinking brewskies on a Thursday night, nahmean? I usually need some buffering/healing time between, “Hey, I have this enormous crush on you!” and “Oh, you don’t like me back? Let me go crawl up in a ball and die!” And because I kind of retreated after he let me know he wasn’t feeling me that way, I never really got that time. It’s mostly been an out-of-sight, out-of-mind type thing.

But alas, here he was on Friday, being all kinds of nosy. (Is it nosy if it’s about him?) This was exacerbated by our all-cast mixer the following night, in which I had to spend two hours in his general presence… and then told the rest of the cast about the whole sordid saga. (They laughed, and so it was more funny than traumatizing.)

To his credit, he is a stand-up guy and very good person. He let me be weird and distant on Friday and Saturday night, as I alternately made fun of him and refused to look him in the eye in the few moments I did talk to him. But it doesn’t change the fact that I have really trippy guy issues… and I wish I didn’t have these trippy guy issues, because I want to be the kind of girl who flirts effortlessly and can become friends with her crushes. Also, I would like to be 25 years old and not having “crushes” anymore, but I guess that’s another post for another day.

All of this to say: Over the next ten weeks, I will be forced to confront what will either be a brilliant plan of creative genius… or a catastrophic failure at trying to be cool and nonchalant. Yay, me! (-___-)

And I didn’t even get to the BEST part, which is… We needed a way to wrap up the story line in a fairly interesting way, especially since we leave it hanging for about three episodes. So, because I like to indulge the part of me that has bad ideas—and I am also tired of the fat, nerdy girl never getting the guy (Hello, projection!)—we end the season with his character deciding that he (maybe?) likes me, and wants to spend more time getting to know me. (I mean, that’s appropriately open-ended enough to not be sketchy, right?)

As a matter of fact, maybe I won’t show up to filming on Friday. By then, I may have drank myself into an irreversible coma to avoid all this fuckishness.

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