Out.com is proud to present the wacky and wild (and absolutely truealthough some names have been changed to protect the guilty) adventures of a 30-year-old guy in Hollywood who just wants to lose a few (dozen) pounds. And find eternal happiness and fulfillment. Is that too much to ask? Part Eight: Taking a Fresh Dip in the Dating Pool Roseanne Roseannadanna would utter the very simple, but oh-so-powerful truth, Its always something. The other morning I was looking at myself in the mirror, admiring my shrinking mid section. The downside came when I turned for a better three-quarter view and noticed some glaring new features. Like a map to remind me of every drive-thru Ive visited, at the base of my stomach I now have stretch marks. I fear they will only get worse the more weight I lose. As a child, I remember noticing my mothers stretch marks at the beach. She would lather them up with coconut oil, hoping the tan would make them disappear, but the darker her tan became, the lighter and more prominent theyd become. When I asked her how she got them, she blamed her pregnancy with me. This does not give me high hopes for bathing suit season, where my goal is to confidently be able to take my shirt off at the beach. Who will I blame? Perhaps Ill tell people I gave birth to my twins, Ben and Jerry. I am happy to report that my current body fat is at 29.7% (down from 30.8% last month). Its still considered obese, but it is progress. With that also comes the first time I have set foot on a scale in over a month and I am even happier to say that I am at 260 pounds, which makes 35 pounds lost since January 1st. Its true that each drop in the bucket adds up. As I lose weight, Im also gaining confidence and encouragement. Shirts that have only been taking up closet space are beginning to fit again. Funny enough, outfits I would have ripped off my body in disgust for showing off my curves while I was gaining weight are now being worn with pride as a symbol of success. This was the case last Thursday when I found an old, beloved shirt that hadnt fit for a few years. It helped me create the kind of courage-inducing outfit I needed for my big date that night. My friends Adam and Katie and I had hatched a plan to force ourselves back into the dating world. I have personally avoided dating for almost two years after one horrible date too many. The plan was to date in a circlea Circle Date if you will. I would find someone for Katie, Katie someone for Adam, and Adam someone for me. To raise the stakes, Adam already had someone in mind for me, a friend of his who was returning from a two-year job in England. Katie and I had a week and a half to find two quality men. Katies job at Trader Joes in West Hollywood gave her access to half the gay men in America, but my search for her man had stalled. Despite the fact that my straight-to-gay friend pool is hetero-deep, every man I know was spoken for. Twenty-four hours to date night, and Katie was about to be dining alone. At 9:45 p.m., I called Adam in a minor panic and we attacked the Virgin Megastore, determined to find Katie a handsome, willing straight guy whod let us Queer Eye him into a date with a curvy redhead. At 10:30 p.m., as Adam began asking gay men if they would play straight for a night, my friend Angelo called me and saved the day. Not only was he straight and handsome, he was available. Katie didnt just have a dateshe had a catch. I was excited all day Thursday. I liked that Adam had someone he felt was compatible with me, and not just a warm body for this experiment. Adam had described me as bigger and his friend had actually said he was relieved because none of the men in England had any meat on their bones. I had healthy expectations of the evening and zero thoughts of picking out china patterns this time. Then Adam called me on the way to the restaurant. He spoke quickly so I couldnt have time to react. Your Brit Boy is suffering from serious jet lag and had to back out this morning. But he does want a rain check and everythings fine. My friends cousin is coming in his place. You have nothing to worry about, youre going to have a great time. My heart rate increased. But you know this guy. Youre not just setting me up with someone youve never met, right? Its a blind date. This ones just blinder than usual. My friend is great-looking and he says they look like brothers. And hes tall. I contemplated turning the car around, saying I was suffering from jet lag after a meeting in the Valley, but I kept driving. I needed this experience to get over my fear of dating, even if the guy turned out to be a total jerk. I had to remind myself repeatedly, This is all for the experience. The six of us meet at the new Cheesecake Factory at the Grove, L.A.s shopping hot spot. We wanted a casual restaurant that was large enough for each couple to go off on their own (after meeting up as a group, the plan was to each get our own table for a private date). We all knew each other well enough that a small restaurant would have us shooting looks at each other across the room throughout the night. I was the last to arrive while the others were standing in front of the restaurant. From behind, Adam had done well for me. My date was tall (maybe 62) and blond, and by the time I got to the front, his looks were just as agreeable. The elephants in my stomach relaxed and my perma-smile took over my face for the remainder of the evening as I was determined to be my most charming self. My date, Ian, stuck out his very nervous hand and introduced himself, tripping slightly over his words. I have heard that when horses meet for the first time, they both sniff and circle each other until one of them finally bites. The one who bites first becomes the dominant and controls the relationship. I find humans to be subconsciously similar. Ians nervousness was all I needed to find my inner confidence and take charge of the evening. We stood huddled, trying to spark up conversations as we waited for our tables to be ready. Ian declared he knew everything about everything. When I asked him if that included pop culture (my best topic), he said, That doesnt count. I dont know much about that. I studied pre-Socratic Greek philosophy in college. Faced with another hour of pre-Socratic anything, I contemplated telling Angelo there was a misunderstanding and I would be his date for the evening. Ian and I were seated first. Our conversation was clunky at best, but not unbearable. His nervousness stayed with him well into his first cosmo, as evidenced by his hand trembling like he had a mild form of Parkinsons. I was surprised to see anyone nervous around me, but it was a gentle reminder that I am not the only one afraid of stepping outside my comfort zone. Halfway through our meal, his cell phone rang. I gave my best polite smile as he apologized for having to take it, as it was a call he had waited for all day. But when he took the second call, 10 minutes later (which, after chatting a moment, was followed with, OK, can I talk to Mom now?), I knew a second date was not in our future. Adam and his date finished first. Adams date was a last-minute find from the afternoon after Katies two potential matches for him backed out. She couldnt have found a less compatible match for Adam, but they seemed to have a nice enough dinner. As the four of us were headed to the door, we came up to Katie and Angelos table, where the two were thick as thieves, both eating heartily from a tower of mashed potatoes and very obviously enjoying each others company. Adam and I said goodbye to our dates, handshakes all around, and waited for Katie and Angelo, who wandered out 20 minutes and a six-carb cheesecake later. They exchanged phone numbers in front of us, and I was happy that at least one of us had found success, giving us hope for trying this again. The next day, my phone and e-mail were buzzing about the Circle Date, everyone wanting to know the results. Even though the night didnt turn out great, I felt that as an exercise, it was successful, and I even came out of it with more confidence. But more than an exercise, this was a team sport and everyone I know now wants to play. I have three dates lined up for Katie, Katies looking to redeem herself with Adam, and Im genuinely excited about re-entering the dating game. If involving my friends gets me a date or two and a rain check with a British meat-lover, Im ready to compete, stretch marks and all.