In spite of its 12 season run, I hadn’t seen an episode of The Bachelorette until this past Monday when I had DiGiorno’s, my 19-year-old sister, and for the first time in a very long time, cable. I’m by no means a reality TV elitist, as I fuck heavily with anything that fucks with reality. It’s just that the basic idea of The Bachelorette did not seem steeped enough in reality to intrigue me. Twenty six random dudes? One woman? Marriage? What? 

I started off not entirely sold; these guys were such incorrigible HAMS. One made a blue balls joke that involved handing JoJo Fletcher, this season’s bachelorette, actual blue balls; another dude made a well-intentioned but misguided meme reference. But then, Nick Sharp came on screen, giving off a vibe somewhere between Matthew McConaughey and Less Than Zero. He reminded me of what I would be like on The Bachelorette: quiet, nervous, drinking. He is also indirectly responsible for the best camera cut ever made on reality television. Shown with no previous context, except seemingly to indicate that some of the contestants were loaded, the camera shows one contestant raising his glass to Nick, saying “Cheers to you, bro.” Nick, not really looking at the camera, half raises his glass back and responds with “Cheers to rock and roll.”

This broke the fourth wall of reality TV for me because “Cheers to rock and roll” is, without a doubt, something anyone would say after 3.5 drinks. Nick Sharp is 26, a software salesman in San Francisco, and a real person. He was sent home in the first episode this week, or, in Bachelorette parlance, was not given a rose. So, what is it like to join the surreal world of several men and one woman in a Tuscan-style villa for just one episode? Why did he say “Cheers to rock and roll”? We chatted with Nick about his brief time on The Bachelorette

How did you end up on The Bachelorette? What was the experience like?
Two of my really good girlfriends from college, unbeknownst to me, had submitted me online, and I just got a random phone call one day. From there, it opened up the opportunity for love, and at the end of the day, that’s what I think really defines life, and what I’ve been looking for. It was a dive right in type of mentality for me. 

What were your expectations going in? Did you have any idea what being in that world would be like?
When it comes to starting a relationship, it has to be something that’s natural and it just has to be spontaneous. You can’t force something to happen, especially when it comes to a connection between two people. For the show itself, on Monday was the first time I had seen an entire episode, so it took me by surprise. 

What was it like watching an episode for the first time? 
It was mixed emotions; it was exciting. There were a couple groups of folks that were doing viewing parties, and I ended up just having a friend over and watching it. It was entertaining, right? At the end of the day, that’s what it was. I wish I could put into words. Being there and seeing it; it’s two completely different worlds. 

I feel like watching yourself, and having a bunch of other people watch you while you watch yourself, sounds terrifying. It makes sense to keep that a small thing. 
I really don’t like being the center of attention, and I always try to divert attention away from myself. Getting into this process, I committed myself to doing the exact opposite of that, and it was like “Oh god, what did I just get myself into?” 

How surreal is it being in a house with a bunch of dudes? Do you think people’s natural personalities end up coming out? 
The first night it was just a defense mechanism, like “Who’s this guy? Can I mingle with him? Are we gonna click?” Thankfully for me, in the limo on the way over, I immediately hit it off with a couple of the guys, and we were calming each other down. James T [a fellow Bachelorette contestant] was playing a little guitar, just getting us all nice and calm. That immediate connection with some of the guys on there; it made it so much easier once we got into the house. It’s basically just like walking into the jungle, right, it’s a competition. But at the end of the day, it’s also a community experience. That’s something I didn’t realize was going to happen, and that was nice.

Did you feel a connection with JoJo?
Ever since I was a little kid, I always knew I would fall in love immediately over a first dance. As soon as I dance with someone, that’s my sure bet. That thunderbolt didn’t happen immediately with JoJo and I. It could have, but it’s the dance that lets me know. 

Was it a bummer or kind of a relief to be sent home early in the process?
It’s a 50/50. For me, it was better to get out of there sooner rather than later. If you think about it from the standpoint of a competition, yeah it sucks to be a loser, to be sent home early. But at the end of the day, that’s not what this competition is about. It’s about something deeper, it’s much more significant. I can’t “compete” for love on that level. 

This is a very specific moment to ask you about, but there’s something you said I thought was fantastic. It was a quick camera cut, but when you were clinking glasses with one of the dudes, you said “Cheers to rock and roll.” That came out of nowhere, and I loved it. How did that moment come about? 
A big group of the contestants this season clearly like rock and roll. A lot of them are musicians, and there’s a song that I always like to play “Rock And Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution.” I think James T had actually brought his guitar in, and he had played a little something for a group of the guys. After he put it down, everyone was saying cheers and I was just like “Cheers to rock and roll.” 

Well, cheers to rock and roll.
Rock and roll ain’t ever gonna die; it brings this world together.