‘The conversational kiss of death’

May 2


Charlotte Schoeneman, 46, architectural designer and landlord, and Donald Sparks, 45, Army journalist/public affairs specialist. (Photograph courtesy of daters)

He told us: “I have a wonderful smile, I’m very cultured, internationally traveled, social and politically conscious … a proud father, and I am filled with positive energy.” She said: “[I’m a] smart, beautiful, feisty single mom … I have a great smile, am clever and witty.” We thought: Perfect! And sent them to Ghar-E-Kabab in Silver Spring.

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Donald: We had the initial hello, hug. We both asked for wine.

Charlotte: It was a little awkward and weird. He’s pudgy, he’s my age, he’s, I don’t know, he’s okay-looking.

Donald: She had a slender runner’s body. Outside of that, it’s just — there was nothing that made me go “Woohoo!”

Donald: I had a little thank-you card that I brought for her, just saying thank you for taking a moment of your time to take part in this. A memento of the moment. That’s just how I am.

Charlotte: [He said] “Tell me about yourself.” Which, as you know, is the conversational kiss of death. I said, “Well, you’re going to have to ask me some questions then.” He just didn’t know how to have a conversation.

Donald: Well, you know, as a journalist, I can do the 20 questions and ask a lot of questions. But you don’t want to hear your voice as a dominant voice, so I tried to give her opportunities to open up and say things about herself.

Charlotte: I actually tried to figure out why they matched us together. Our ages are fairly similar, we’re both divorced, we both have children around the same age.

Donald: We had the same commonalities when it came to our politics. [And] I was just excited to hear somebody who is world-traveled and understands cultures from other parts of the world. That’s something I truly enjoy.

Charlotte: I mean, seriously, the only topics we could talk about were about him because when I would say something about myself, he’d say, “Well, when I was in someplace else, I did that, too.” Everything I said he sort of deflected. People find my life interesting, but he didn’t ask anything about my life.

Donald:Part of being a journalist, you can get information without asking the direct question.

Charlotte: He asked, “So is there ever a right way to ask a woman her age?” And I said no. I should have said, “Yes, but now is not it.”

Donald: I was just trying to get the laugh in. The sense of humor was just not there at all. I’m a pretty jovial person, but every time I tried to crack jokes, she didn’t really laugh.

Charlotte: About halfway through, I kind of wished I was somewhere else. It was all pap and kind of “Oh, I’ve been so lucky, and I have such a great job, and the military is so great.”

CharlotteI felt like the way he carried himself and presented himself was just very much — he said things that just didn’t seem to be very true. Or he was just “Oh, everything is wonderful all the time.”

Donald: I think she was more closed off. I was not afraid to talk about and share things about myself.

Charlotte: When they asked about dessert, he declined for both of us. I think he just didn’t consider that I might want something. It was 10:30. We went outside, and he said, “Well, keep in touch.”

Donald: It was definitely not one of those [upbeat] “Well, I’ll talk to you again; keep in touch.” It was more “Okayyy ...” We just hugged, said goodbye and went our separate ways.

RATE THE DATE

Charlotte: A 2. Because he’s nice. I mean, the date was congenial, we didn’t have a fight about anything. So that was good.

Donald: A 3. We did have some intellectual conversation. But outside of [that], there was not a lot of laughter or ... yeah.

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