“Plucky” heroines are a dime a dozen in romance—even if it’s an adjective you don’t see hear very often in real life. But in an attempt to amp up my pluck-factor, I took a large step outside my box and attended a totally immersive experience: Never Sleep Alone.

Never Sleep Alone is a performance by Dr. Alex Schiller*, in which you must be down for whatever. If she says “jump,” you jump. If she says “kiss the person next to you,” well, you get the idea. The whole show is built around the idea that if you follow the principles of Never Sleep Alone you will, in fact, never sleep alone again (unless you choose to). Nervous and excited, I entered the theater, idly playing with the half-masks we’d all been mysteriously given, and ordered a glass of wine. (Experiments in bravery should never be undertaken dry.) I was seated with a bunch of other single young women, all nice enough, but some friendlier than others. On the bench directly next to me was a girl who practically could have been my sister, so that put me at ease. As I sipped my wine (pluckily), I mentally congratulated myself on my bravery—my sisters in romance would be so proud.

The room was full of couples on adventurous dates, plucky single ladies (there’s that word again!), groups of friends trying something new and different, all poised and ready for the show to begin. From the second she walked out on stage, hair and makeup and outfit mind-bogglingly coordinated, Dr. Schiller captured the attention of the entire room. I imagine being in Oprah’s audience would convey much the same feeling, like you’re about to win a huge prize and learn something about the world and yourself all at once. People were singing along, cheering, just going with the flow. So there was lots of derring-do, stunts of Twister and making out with strangers and a bunch of people whipped into a frenzy by the sexual possibilities and Dr. Schiller’s amazing energy.

 

I smiled encouragingly at the men in the room, thinking Look at me, I’m plucky! My self-consciousness and nervousness faded as I got caught up in the anything’s-possible atmosphere. I’m not saying I was aiming to not sleep alone, but I’m not not saying it either.

Midway through the show, Dr. Schiller had the entire audience get to their feet, half-masks in place, and circle around to greet a person you found attractive. I had spotted a gentleman I found alluring, and so headed toward him in the melee. When we were just a few feet from each other, I was about to ask a question (as were the directions from Dr. Schiller), but just as I opened my mouth, he reached directly over my shoulder to tap my bench-mate.
Womp, womp.

But…my daring! My bravery! Guess he couldn’t plucking handle it. Despite the hiccup of being runner-up in the affections of a total stranger, it was a super fun, boundary-pushing, entirely enjoyable evening. Feeling just a little bit more adventurous, I walked out of the show as the plucky heroine of this story, ready for my next lesson in romance.

 

*Dr. Alex isn’t actually a doctor.