Date Lab: Can he swat his way into her heart?


June 16, 2011

About the daters

Fitness routine ...

Ben: I’m a triathlete.

Katie: Avid-but-not-fast triathlete, marathoner, yoga.

Dating history as a TV show ...


Ben: Imagine the “Real Housewives” of Oklahoma and JDate were the source of contestants for “The Bachelor.” Genius.

Katie: Young professional tries to fit dating into her busy life, however, is plagued by meeting the most socially awkward men in the capital of the free world.

Dream date ...

Ben: Superwoman.

Katie: A tall, dark, handsome Marine lieutenant who votes Democrat, studied literature in college, likes to snuggle and has a soft spot for puppies.

Interests to share ...

Ben: I would hope that we both like crosswords, reading, traveling and learning. I hope she can be a morning person like I am, too.

Katie: Reading (books, newspaper, magazines), spending time outdoors, interest in sports and keeping fit, interest in domestic and international politics.

The date: 7:30 pm, Bistro La Bonne, U Street

Ben: I got [to the restaurant] about 15 minutes early. I guess I was a little nervous. I didn’t have my cellphone with me, so I didn’t have a whole lot to do but stare at the door and read the menu over and over again. Our table was [on a] balcony that overlooks the restaurant, so it [was] kind of awkward sitting there.

Katie: It’s so weird; the whole experience is like going back to 1998, because there’s no such thing as a blind date in the Facebook world. I’ve never been on a date with someone I’ve never seen before. And disposable cameras — I didn’t know those still existed! When I saw him, I was like, Oh, he’s a good-looking guy, but it wasn’t something that I had been stressing about. I was much more focused on [getting] through two or three hours of talking to someone I know nothing about. He has really nice hair. I noticed that.

Ben: I thought she was athletic and pretty. [She] looked like someone I probably would be interested in talking to if I were out. We [shook] hands, and she had a very firm handshake.

Katie: They brought us some champagne, which was lovely. He told me about what he does, and I talked a little bit about what I do. And then the next thing that came up was that I am training for a half Ironman triathlon, and he just did one.

Ben: You go into it and you’re like, what about this person did they match with me? We started chatting about our days and then she rolled into triathlons and I was like, Oh, there you go. We talked about our workout routines; hers is impressive. I thought she must be pretty tough.

Katie: He did a race in Puerto Rico, which I thought was really interesting, and that sort of led into conversation about travel and where we’d been and stuff we’d seen. We talked about work — he asked what my management style was, and I sort of jokingly said, “Oh, I’m a micromanager,” and then the whole rest of the time, anytime I would do anything, he was like, “You’re micromanaging; you’re micromanaging!” He was really funny. Like, the waiter was taking a picture and I reminded him to put the flash on, and [Ben] was like, “You’re micromanaging!” So there’s probably a picture of me hysterically laughing.

Ben: She was telling me how they have evaluations and they have to [say] what they’re good at and what challenges them, so I was asking her throughout the night what my challenges were on the date. She was just laughing for the most part. But [then] there were several flies [near our table], so I tried to kill one and missed, and she killed one on her first try. So that was one of my challenges.

Katie: I was really proud of that. Fly-swatting — I think that’s an area for growth for him. I was having a good time; he was interesting and funny and attractive. I was really impressed that on a first date he would be as honest and open and mocking me, so that was funny. I would hesitate to say [whether or not we were] flirting.

Ben: Yeah, I think we were [flirting]. It seemed like she was young [to be in a management position] at her work. And it sounded like her life was pretty structured, so I was curious to find out that she is spontaneous about some things. She manages to find [time each] week to have a really fun-packed day. She was saying how she [didn’t want our Date Lab column] to be boring, and I was like, “Okay, we don’t have to wrap it up here; we can go somewhere else.” She knew of a place around the corner.

Katie: We went to the Gibson. They have a nice outdoor patio [and] fancy drinks. I think [we were there] until, like, 1. We were the last people there. He didn’t have his phone with him, but he wanted to ask for my number, so he told me to text him so that he would have my number.

Ben: I was like, “It’d be nice to hang out again,” and she was like, “Yeah, that’d be cool,” and we hugged, and then I caught a cab. We just left it pretty ambiguous. I imagine if we do get together again, it could involve going for a run or a bike ride. [I’d rate the date] about a 4 [out of 5]. It’s kind of hard when you’re just sitting at dinner with someone you’ve never met before. But it was good! We talked for a long time, and I felt like we learned a lot about each other.

Katie: I would go with 5 on the blind-date scale. You definitely go into this wanting it to work out, because that would be such a great story. So I don’t know if that was clouding my impression of him. I definitely want more data points. But he seemed cool. Hopefully, if there’s another date, it involves some successful fly-swatting.

UPDATE: Ben and Katie got together twice the next weekend — once for a Nationals game, and a second time with friends at a bar. So are they just friends, or is this a romance? “I would say it probably falls into the realm of dating,” Katie says.

Rock-climbing, dinner-cooking, salsa-dancing dude seeks fashionable, fair-skinned lady who’s tight with her family. Is that you? Apply at datelab.washpost.com. Find out what else we’re up to at facebook.com/datelab or follow us on Twitter @datelab.

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