Have you ever wondered what happened to the “one that got away”?
TVLand’s new reality series, First Love, Second Chance (Wednesdays, 10 p.m. Eastern/Pacific) features six couples, after being separated for years, decades for some, who agree to reunite to see if what they felt so long ago was the real thing. And if it was, the couples must decide if it’s worth giving the relationship another try.
The following Q&A is part of a series of interviews with the men and women who dared to take a second chance on a first love. This time, The Ride talks to Pam, who met her first love Chris while she was a fun-loving bartender and he was hardcore party dude.
Pam from “Chris and Pam” (airs Wednesday, March 17)
The Ride: How frightened were you that your first love would not only not look the same as when you last saw him, but would look far worse than you could ever have imagined?
Pam: I was more nervous than frightened to see Chris for the first time. I’m a very facial person; by that I mean my expression knows no filter. Whatever I’m feeling, whether it be anger, joy, sorrow, or pure disgust, will be written all over my face…cameras rolling or not. If he looked worse than I could have ever imagined, my expression would have let him and all of America know in that initial moment I felt that way.
The Ride: What if the latter was true – looked far worse than you ever imagined – what would you have done?
Pam: I have not dated the best looking guys. I’ve gotten the line, “You can do so much better than him,” or “What was she thinking?” a lot. For me, being physically fit wins over the looks department. The person that I’m with needs to respect themselves enough to take care of their mind, body, and spirit. Those are aspects that you have the power to control. I’m also really big on personality and humor. So as much as it would have sucked if Chris was an unattractive, 800 pound man with a really bad comb over, his funniness would have made me see past that. Maybe there wouldn’t have been a romantic connection but we still would have had a great time because we always clicked personality wise. Then again who knows maybe the romance would have flourished anyway. Never say never.
The Ride: And did you focus on keeping in shape, looking your best, just in case you ran into that first love?
Pam: I keep in shape in mind, body, and spirit for myself. I have always been very active and I enjoy yoga, meditation, and reading. I am a reiki master, which is a form of holistic energy work. I do all of this because it makes me feel good about myself not because it will look good to someone else.
The Ride: How did you find out about the show?
Pam: I received an e-mail from a casting agent stating that my ex Chris was looking to reunite with me on a new reality television show. I re-read it 10 times before I e-mailed back.
The Ride: What was the selection process like? I would think the casting people/producers would want to make sure that no one had any stalker tendencies.
Pam: The best way that I can explain the casting process was organized mayhem. Chris and I were cast last minute to fill the spot of a previously cast couple that didn’t work out for the show. I had to fill out an extensive application, do several phone interviews, send in a video of myself telling our story, and sign a lengthy contract that may or may not include my first born. All of this was done in a matter of six days. Once casting approved those items, it was off to the doctor’s for a physical and blood work and then a visit from a psychiatrist to make sure I was not the boiling bunny type. Producers then called to set the date. I think it took about a month from nuts to bolts. Organized mayhem at it’s best!
The Ride: You are pretty vulnerable on the show. Why were you so willing to let a national television audience see that vulnerability?
Pam: Hi, my name is Pamela and I am a cry baby. As you can tell from the show I am not one to hide my feelings. I have the worst poker face, especially when I’m pissed. I am usually a tough cookie that is hard to crumble when it comes to strangers. In front of my friends and family, it’s a different story. I have done a lot of work on myself the past few years to try to break down the walls that my past has help build. I never planned on being that open or vulnerable especially while being filmed, it just happened.
I was frustrated with myself every time my voice would crack and the tears would come because besides it being annoying, I am not a pretty crier. I look like someone rubbed my face in wet gravel…not cute at all. I do have to give credit to the producers and the “FLSC” crew. They fostered an environment that was conducive to mental breakdowns. LOL, no seriously, they made me feel safe to open up and be true to myself in that moment. I learned so many valuable lessons during and after filming. This experience has truly changed my life. I haven’t stopped crying since. Just kidding.
The Ride: Your friends have a lot to say when they met your first love for the first time. What did they have to say when you told them you were going to be on the show?
Pam: My friends are a vocal bunch, aren’t they? We’re from Jersey so the sarcasm runs deep and the abuse even deeper. It’s always in good fun and never meant to be hurtful. They edited out a lot of that dinner where I explain where the “Oh Cabana Boy” comment came from. It’s actually an old inside joke with me, Christine, and my brother. I knew as soon as Chris said what he did for work that she was going to say that. You can see it on my face.
Anyway, I was both nervous and excited to tell my friends about my latest adventure. They’re used to unusual opportunities coming my way so not one of them was shocked or surprised. Most of them laughed and said that I would be perfect for television because I’m so animated and I love to talk. I’ll talk to a park bench if it will listen. Their only concern was the premise for the show and the fact that I am a teacher. Would this affect my job and how my students perceive me? Once I explained what it was they all seemed to be on board.
The Ride: What did your family have to say?
Pam: I wasn’t going to do it. My first reaction to the casting e-mail was, “I’m a teacher, no way.” My mom was the one who told me to do it. She said you always believe that nothing is coincidence and that everything is a sign. Fill out the paperwork. If it’s meant to be then you’ll get cast. My brothers had the same concern that I did but in the end they know that I am a person of sound judgment and that this could be an exciting opportunity for me. The rest of my family was looking to get some airtime but I’m not sure television is ready for that debacle.
The Ride: So do you believe in love at first sight?
Pam: I don’t know about love at first sight because I don’t believe that looks really make a person. I do believe you can fall in love with someone very quickly, especially when you know who you are. Most often that comes with age and experience but not always. When you’re in tune with your authentic self, you can feel that connection with someone immediately so why waste time.
The Ride: Did you believe in love at first sight before you met your first love?
Pam: No, because I was too young and had so many walls up.
The Ride: “Hopeless romantic” or “Cautious Cynic”?
Pam: Up until the filming of “FLSC,” I was a Cautious Cynic. [I was one] even when Chris and I dated 12 years ago. But now, I have to say I’m wading in the Hopeless Romantic waters. I guess the timing is finally right.
The Ride: What do you hope people get from watching the show?
Pam: I hope people learn that it’s alright to step outside of your comfort zone and to put yourself out there. The past is not something to be forgotten. Sometimes it can remind us how far we have come or how much further we need to go. Every experience brings with it a beautiful lesson to learn.
These lessons can come in the form of an experience, a book, a friendship, new relationship, an old love, or a reality television show. They can bring fluttering butterflies to your belly, streams of tears to your eyes, Cheshire grins to you face or haunt your dreams at night but each and every lesson is an amazing mirror of who you are and a reflection of who you aspire to be.
To follow Pam on Twitter, click here.
And for a sneak peek of the episode, click here.