Is talking politics on a first date impolitic? Is a Date Lab date even a real date? Sara and Michael, two 20-something members of the media-political complex, grappled with these peculiarly D.C. questions and more over dinner at Odeon Cafe.
interviews by Janet Burkitt
Michael: I always follow the rules, so I showed up 15 minutes early.
Sara: I was happy he was there first. I was nervous about, I guess, sitting there waiting awhile.
Michael: I didn’t go for the hug. I thought a lot about it, and I figured we hadn’t met yet, so the hug is kind of presumptuous.
Sara: We didn’t hug, which, actually, I’m a hugger, so I would have hugged. I think shaking hands is more awkward than hugging.
Michael: My first impression of her was she’s someone that I would definitely pursue. She’s attractive, well dressed, and I was thinking in the back of my head, Washington Post, good work.
Sara: He was shorter, but so am I, [and] was nicely dressed. He’s definitely cute. Or I don’t know if I’d say definitely, but, yeah, he was cute. I think he’s a little more clean-cut-looking than might be my usual type.
Michael: I didn’t feel nervous. I kind of did this for the story. I said, “How many people get the opportunity to go on a Washington Post Date Lab?” I’m not the kind of guy that plans on ever going on a blind date again.
Sara: Recently I got a new job, and I actually moved. I’m now based in New York, but I come back to D.C. frequently, and I’m from the D.C. area, so I still really wanted to do Date Lab and be open to meeting and … seeing if, no matter where the location, if a relationship could work.
Michael: One of my old bosses was tired of me coming in on Mondays and just talking about being out with the guys, and she said, “When are you going to settle down and actually start dating?” She and the interns in the office … convinced me to have them fill out my Date Lab application. Of course I approved what was said.
Sara: He was like, “Oh, let’s take a picture” first thing. So we took a picture using one of the [Date Lab-provided] cameras basically right away … it was just a little, like, immediately like, “This is a Date Lab.” You know, not like … a real first date, I guess.
Michael: I will say ... she brought up politics. I was walking on eggshells because it was clear early on that we were on different sides of the political spectrum. I work on the Hill, and I’m labeled a Republican, but I did not want that [to be a factor].
Sara: One of the first things he was talking about was how his colleagues and his boss were really excited for this, so, I mean, I had to ask.
Michael: I’m not saying that it killed the mood that she brought up politics, but I sort of think she thought that I thought that it killed the mood, if that makes any sense.
Sara: We didn’t really discuss it that much, so I don’t know. We both seemed open-minded.
Michael: I wasn’t turned off. She’s a beautiful girl; she obviously has a lot going for her. She’s got a great — I know this may sound D.C. — but I was very impressed with her résumé, truthfully.
Sara: He wasn’t quirky enough for me; that’s what it is. Really, really nice guy … but I need … someone that has a little, maybe, more of an edge.
Michael: We ended the evening at the dinner table in the sense that we had a good conversation about how hard it is to date in the city.
RATE THE DATE
Sara: I’d say a 3. Because it wasn’t the best date I’ve been on, but it also wasn’t the worst. So maybe a 3.5 — 3, 3.5 — because I enjoyed getting to know him.
Michael: I’m going to go 3 but ... without the pressure of Date Lab, I think we’re talking 4 [or] better. There’s absolutely a lot of pressure because every conversation you have at the table could come out on paper.
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UPDATE: Michael sent Sara a text a couple of days after the date and the two texted back and forth, but, he says, “I have not pushed for a second date at this point, just due to the fact that she currently lives in New York and I’m here.” Says Sara, “He has my phone number, and he friended me on Facebook, so we’re connected now.”
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