Date Lab: No electricity? Maybe she can lend him a spark.
By Christina Breda Antoniades,
About the daters ...
Your type ...
Galen: Laughs at my jokes and contributes her own humor. I like the pleasantly crazy ones (not scary-crazy). Maybe quirky is a better word, but Zooey Deschanel isn’t what I have in mind ... the girl who designs her own “aerobics” activities based on her observations of nature, i.e., Kelp Dancing and Wave Aerobics. She’s athletic, likes camping, hiking, walks on the beach.
Ellen: Sarcastic, self-deprecating, kind, dark hair, big hands, taller than me.
Brag a little ...
Galen: I have a knack for making people laugh. I am a good listener and an excellent storyteller. I like getting outdoors and am somewhat athletic. I love going on trips that end up being adventures. Despite my cynical side, I am very optimistic. My mom says I’m intelligent.
Ellen: I’m really funny, and I’m a generous audience. I like a great dive bar and hanging out doing just about anything. Also, I’m pretty smart.
Interests to share ...
Galen: Camping is a must. I love to go whitewater kayaking; if they want to learn, or know how, awesome. If not, they have to be comfortable with me doing so. I also enjoy shorter hikes; never more than 10 miles. Friendly competition, whether it be soccer, bocce or any other sort of game.
Ellen: Running (but not obsessively), camping, hiking, rafting.
About the date ...
7:30 p.m., 701, Chinatown
Galen: I got there at 7, which I realize was a bit early, but they also had electricity and air conditioning. I had been without power for three and a half days [after the derecho]. I sat down at a table in the bar area and had a drink and read the Express.
Ellen:I was excited. I liked the fact that all I had to do was tell y’all something about myself, and somebody else just picked. I thought about taking a cab because it was so warm, but I thought, “No, no, I’ll just take the Metro,” which was kind of a mistake because the Metro during rush hour, during a heat wave … I felt less than stellar when I arrived. I think I got there around 7:20.
Galen: She was very cheerful when she came in, and you could notice the bubbly personality and [that she is] a little bit of an extrovert. She kind of had that glow to her. I’d read a bunch of Date Labs before hand. There’s that initial meeting, some people go for the handshake or the hug. She just stuck her hand right out and I went for the hand shake. My first impression was probably [that we’d be in] the friend zone. I think you have to be attracted to somebody if you want it to be more than just friends.
Ellen: The host knew exactly who I was. I said, “I’m just going to go to the bathroom,” you know, and kind of try and de-puddle. The host didn’t really stop me so I wandered back to the bathroom and spent some time, washed my hands, tried to cool off a little bit. I come back out and [the host] said, “Actually, your date is right here.” I had walked right by him. So we laughed about that.
Ellen: He’s boyishly good-looking. He looks like a cross between my high school boyfriend and my college boyfriend. The guys I’ve dated since have been more gruffly handsome, [but] he has nice dimples and he smiled very easily. He was definitely somebody I would go up to in a bar and say hello. The host took us back to our table. It’s kind of both terrible and great that there was a massive storm [the prior] weekend, so I think my first question was, “Do you have power?” And he didn’t have power, so we talked about our mutual storm and powerless experiences.
Galen: We got to talking about kayaking and rafting pretty quickly.
Ellen: My family is from Colorado and really into kayaking and river boating and hiking and backpacking. He’s from Lake Tahoe and has a lot of experience boating, so we had an instant commonality. That was what we talked about for the first probably third of the date. There were very few pauses. Part of that is my personality. I’m not a person who deals with silence very well. He seemed initially quiet. I think it just takes him a second to warm up. I hope he didn’t feel like I was interrogating him.
Galen: I did not feel like I was being interrogated, but she did ask the majority of the questions. I appreciated that that allowed me to steer the conversation in different ways. [The server] came back a couple times before we even got an appetizer.
Ellen: [Galen] told me he was really excited about the foie gras, so we decided to get an appetizer of foie gras. It’s not something I would have ordered on my own probably ever, but he seemed to like it and I thought if you’re going to eat foie gras you should probably eat it with someone who can tell you whether it’s good or bad. We joked about how we should get the veal too and make the date truly offensive. But we didn’t.
Galen: For the main course I had the duck breast, and she had fish. It was a pleasure talking to her. She was definitely laughing at my jokes. I thought we did have quite a bit in common. We both agree that the West is the best. There’s a little bit of a homesickness in both of us, but not the point of, “Oh God, I’ve got to get out of here.” We got a little into politics, but it was nothing too expressive. It was more just some slight digs on certain politicians.
Ellen: I always think that I travel a lot, but he’s spent significant portions of time in places that I’d really like to go or places I’d only been for a few days, so I could tell him my first impressions and he was giving me more in depth about what it’s like.
Galen: It was very easy getting along with her, [but] I didn’t feel that much [chemistry]. My thought at that point was that it wasn’t going to be very romantic. My guess is that it was more due to what I was looking for — somebody that was probably a little more on the page with me for outdoor activities. She gets out a bit with her family, but she doesn’t get there as much as me. That’s important to me. I do want somebody that will actually motivate me as well.
Ellen: It was a good match. You can tell when you don’t want to see someone again, and this was definitely somebody I thought, “Oh, I’d really like to see this person again and get to know him.” My flirting is generally being like a kid sister and jabbing somebody verbally, so I did that. On his part, honestly, I couldn’t tell. I didn’t sense from his body language that he wasn’t interested. After we finished dinner we were like, “Oh yeah, we need to take pictures.” That was the only part of the evening where I felt like it was awkward. We did some around the piano and by the bar so we got into it a little bit towards the end. I’m sure the cocktails didn’t hurt. We had dessert. He got crème brulee, and I got a rhubarb crumble, and we sort of shared.
Galen: The manager was very helpful and encouraging with us. He had us do a couple different poses.
Galen: We left about 10:30 or 11, and then we went up the street to another bar and had another drink. We were there for one drink, and then we headed back to the Metro.
Ellen: He walked me down to the Yellow and Green line, andI was like, “Why are you coming down here?” I think I even said, “Don’t you take the Red line?” And he said, “Oh, I wanted to get your number.” I said, “Oh, God, of course.” So I gave him my number. As he was looking at his phone, he was like, “My power’s back on.” So hopefully that was a good end to the date for him. We hugged. I hopped on the train.
Galen:We didn’t really talk about [a second date]. I will probably send her a text and see if she wants to meet up, but I would want to try and define the relationship of more of the friend stage. I don’t want to lead her on.
Ellen: I’d [rate the date] a 4.5 [out of 5]. Nice guy, great dimples, good conversation. Hopefully, he’ll teach me how to roll a kayak.
Galen: There wasn’t the chemistry, so I guess it’s a 3. It was a pleasure hanging out, and it would be great to have her as a friend.
UPDATE: Ellen texted Galen, and, as of press time, the two had plans to get together again. A date? “Really just, ‘Hey, let’s spend a few more hours together and see if we have more to talk about,’” Ellen says. Galen’s still thinking friends but adds, “We haven’t talked about it yet.”