Date Lab: Can we get a volunteer to supply some spark?


May 1, 2011

ABOUT THE DATERS

Dating history as a TV show…

Tonya: A situation comedy about a woman who gives the best advice (or so she’s told) on love and relationships but hasn’t found the right person in her own life to apply it to. Every failed relationship turns into a new best buddy. She continues to search for that relationship where she can have both romance and friendship.

Clifton: A guy in pursuit of happiness gets a hitch in the wagon.

Happiest when …

Tonya: I am around my family and friends.

Clifton: Not working and looking at a good movie with the perfect woman.

Your type…

Tonya: A guy with a great sense of humor, confident, career-oriented, easygoing personality and takes good care of himself. Over the years, the list has become longer, but I will spare you!

Clifton: Slender, athletic, woman of the world, pretty face, smart, funny, witty, average build.

Interests to share …

Tonya: Volunteering, traveling, working out, documentary films, books, live music, comedy shows and writing.

Clifton: Love of jazz, sports and community service.

THE DATE

7:30 p.m., Finemondo, downtown

Clifton: I was excited and nervous at the same time, but I was amped up for the day. I parked close to the restaurant, and I walked around the block a few times, getting up the nerve to walk on in. I got [inside] at about 7:10. [The host] took me to my chair, and I had a glass of water, and, of course, [I was] wiping perspiration in droves. I must have used up four handkerchiefs.

Tonya: I was very anxious but excited. I drove from Baltimore, because it was my day off. I actually made it in time, and he was there when I got there, which is good.

Clifton: I was looking at the menu and out of my peripheral vision I saw two people come in. It was actually the host and a nice-looking young lady. They walked over, and we introduced ourselves. I really liked her smile. I get energy off a smile. Physically, I was attracted to her, but that’s just one dimension. It’s a great dimension to have, but the conversation is the main thing.

Tonya: My initial thought was how conservative he appeared. He was in a dress shirt and slacks, and he had glasses on, so I was thinking, Okay, he seems very businesslike. It’s usually synonymous with being a little stuffy. I really couldn’t tell yet [if he was my type], because usually I base that on energy. We shook hands, and I sat down.

Clifton: We were in the corner, and it was a nice little intimate setting. We both had a glass of wine.

Tonya: It was very comfortable from the beginning, [but] it took probably 10 minutes before he made a comment, like, “Now that we got our representatives out of the way, we can be ourselves.” After that point, the conversation flowed really well. I was relieved. He wasn’t at all [stuffy]. He was really laid-back.

Clifton: We talked about the area that we live in. She’s a former Washingtonian herself [but is] living in Baltimore. I was telling her that I’ve started hanging around Baltimore. I found out that she is a Big Sister and I told her I was a little brother myself, and I also was the Big Brother of the Year in the Washington metropolitan area in 2002. I told her how that was great that she’s giving back.

Tonya: It turned out that we had the exact same interests, which was really strange. We both love mentoring, we love the theater, we love documentaries. We had mostly the same taste. It’s rare to meet someone that has that much in common with you, so I was pleased.

Clifton: I felt at ease all evening, myself, because she was someone that you could really talk with, and the conversations were nice. We were very animated. We were kind of just throwing one-liners back and forth. She’s pretty witty, and I always consider myself a comedian, so it was nice to have someone to throw something real fast at you.

Tonya: One of my interests is photography, so I was sneaking pictures of him when he was eating. It was fun. I liked his personality a lot. He has a great sense of humor, which I really like, and he knew exactly how to break the ice. [But] I didn’t feel like there was any romantic chemistry or flirting. I really don’t know why. I felt like I was out with a good friend.

Clifton: We both got giddy, and we were laughing. I was attracted to her personality, [but] I didn’t see [any] flirting. I was trying to be a gentleman as much as possible. [And] I don’t know if I was her type or anything like that. Sparks, I would say, would fly a little more [if I was].

Tonya: We had no conversation that was leading to plans after that night, [and] we didn’t exchange numbers. It didn’t even seem like we were going in that direction.

Clifton: She had a coffee, and I had a cappuccino, and we took more pictures, did more talking. One thing in Washington is the parking situation — you know the meter’s about to expire, so the pumpkin was up there. So I walked her to her vehicle. It was about 9:30. I told her, “Hey, I really had a great evening.” She said she had a great evening, as well. And we just bid adieu right there. I opened the door for her; she rolled her window down, and I told her to drive safe.

Tonya: It wasn’t romantic, so, I guess, [for romance, I would rate the date] a 2 [out of 5]. But as a fun evening I’d say, like, a 7.

Clifton: I would [rate the date] a 4. She’s a very charming young woman. It was a great evening. Would I like to go out on a date with her again? Of course.

Update: Clifton sent us an e-mail the next day. “Hindsight: I should have asked for her number.” Tonya says if he asked her out again, “I would think about it; I don’t know. Chemistry is important.”

Nominate a friend for Date Lab! Reach us at datelab@washpost.com or on Twitter and tell us why he or she is a great catch.

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