Date Lab: A perfect match, with a few thousand miles in between
By Amanda McGrath,
About the daters ...
Happiest when ...
Danny: Road-tripping or hiking with friends somewhere far away from D.C.
Alisha: When I’m exploring a faraway place. When I’m 120 feet underwater with a scuba tank on my back. When I’m messing around in the kitchen with a glass of wine and good company.
Brag a little ...
Danny: I enjoy yard work, laundry and am free of most known infectious diseases!
Alisha: I’m highly intelligent, deeply compassionate, a great adventurer and travel partner, and have a pretty amusing sense of humor.
Your type ...
Danny: Having a sharp sense of humor is pretty much it. If she’s genuine and carries a sunny disposition, then I can’t really ask for anything more.
Alisha: I love a man with a keen intellect, pride in his accomplishments, a quick and devious wit, a constant thirst for adventure, and cool/quirky tastes (music, etc.). I gravitate toward tall, lanky, athletic guys with brown hair.
Interests to share ...
Danny: If she plays tennis at the level where she can pretty consistently serve the ball into the opposite court, that would be far beyond my highest expectations.
Alisha: Hobbies: travel, diving, hiking, skiing, music fanaticism, cooking. Outlooks: social justice, international affairs, commitment to the environment. Passions: each other.
About the date ...
7:30 p.m., 901 Restaurant, Chinatown
Danny: I finished work and went for a run, then headed over to the date. I was there for maybe a couple minutes, and then she came. Alisha’s really cute. She has a really nice smile. I felt lucky.
Alisha: He’s definitely a good-looking guy. “On the taller side, dark hair, with a runner’s build” is sort of my sweet spot, and he definitely fit that description, so yeah, he would probably be within the realm of my type. He gave me a hug, and it was very easy, not awkward at all. We just launched into conversation pretty quickly.
Danny: She’s a complete foodie and I’m the complete opposite. Once I realized she was an expert and I just usually go for whatever contains something fried, I forced her to order all the food. We got a lot of appetizers and entrees. She ordered wine and asked for a decanter. I didn’t realize you could do that.
Alisha: He was really engaged in me picking out dishes he might like and ingredients he hadn’t heard of. He was a really good sport about it at a restaurant that might have otherwise had kind of an intimidating menu.
Danny:Pretty early on, we figured out that we did somewhat similar work. I interview refugees to be resettled in the United States; she does international development. We talked about Iraq, because we both worked there. We worked in different regions, so it was really interesting to hear about her experience and compare it to mine. I would hear about stuff from the refugees I would talk to ... whereas she was working with city councils. Rural Iraq, southern Iraq, what life is like, what the politicians are like ... the rise of Moqtada al-Sadr is not normal first-date conversation, but it was great.
Alisha: We found out we had a mutual acquaintance [in Iraq] and just traded stories about our time there. It was fun to talk about my work there with someone who really gets it. I do international development work, humanitarian aid-type stuff. He was really engaged in hearing about my experiences and asking questions; the back and forth was great.
Danny: In D.C., there’s definitely more people who have that sort of experience or have done that sort of work in the Middle East, but it wasn’t that stodgy Washington talk of, “Oh, what do you do; who do you work for?” It was fascinating for me to hear what she’d seen and been through.
Alisha: He also has really cool taste in music, which is a big thing for me, being a former [college radio] DJ and a music junkie. So we talked about that a little bit, as well. Even though he had good musical taste, he was also singing the praises of Taylor Swift, so I was appalled. [Laughs.] It was a very funny conversation.
Danny: We talked about bands or musical artists that are guilty pleasures. Her guilty pleasure was Steely Dan; I guess I associate that more with middle-age men who drive Mazda Miatas. It was fun.
Alisha: I guess, for me, the conversation flowed so well from minute one. At no point was it ever awkward or boring. I would definitely say that there was decent chemistry.
Danny: She was very friendly and really easy to talk to. That’s kind of a rare trait. When you find something like that, of course you should definitely pursue it further. It was hard to gauge the chemistry, [because] she was [sitting] pretty far away from me. Also the debate was going on, and they were playing really loud techno music. I felt like I was in a laser tag arena. It was weird sitting there having pretty intense conversation and then you have Mitt Romney [and] techno music in the background.
Alisha: After we finished up dinner, I think we had an hour and a half until we needed to catch the Metro in our respective directions. So we left the restaurant and wandered down the street to Rocket Bar and played shuffleboard. At that point I think there was more flirtatious chemistry.
Danny: Getting out from behind a table into a more active environment where it feels more comfortable and casual, it was more conducive to flirting. It felt a lot more like a date after that. Then I realized it was just about midnight, and we both had to go catch the Metro. I was getting her number when the train came, so she just gave me her business card real quick. We had a kiss goodnight.
Alisha: A goodnight kiss kind of happened. I don’t think I had expectations [for a kiss], but it felt natural and nice.
Danny:It’s kind of hard to tell how much potential there is for the future just after one date. And another problem is that I’m going abroad [to Thailand]. Tomorrow. It’s just for a month, month and a half. [Break for Date Lab editor to weep silently.]
I’d say [I travel for work] maybe half the year. I felt a little guilty accepting the Date Lab offer. But I’ve had this job for a while now. You can’t let yourself feel guilty for going on dates; you’re human, you have every right to date as everyone else does. It just makes it harder when you’re coming and going from D.C.
Alisha: We joked early on in the date as we were talking about work and travel that [Date Lab] might have been successful in matching up two people who, if they were dating, might never actually see each other! I travel a fair bit, every other month or so. Usually my trips are two or three weeks, so it’s not that bad.
Danny: I’d say [the date] was a 4 [out of 5]. I think we’ll stay in touch. [If I weren’t going away], we’d definitely go on a second date.
Alisha: It was definitely a solid date, a 4.5. It was really good. We’re definitely not going to get together anytime soon. But we hope to be in touch after that and maybe get together when he gets back.
UPDATE: Alisha reached us a few days later: “Danny and I have exchanged a few e-mails since our date and agreed to get together when he’s back in the country in December. ... I know you guys love a good follow-up date plan. ;)” You bet we do. [Break for Date Lab editor to do a happy dance.]
So NOT the D.C. type?
Goth girls, Comic-Con nerds and anyone who wouldn’t be caught dead on the Hill: E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.