He likes fiction, fitness and progressive politics. She’s a D.C. newcomer who’s into travel and outdoor activities. Both prefer people who can laugh at themselves; neither is impressed by a fancy résumé. We sent them to Floriana in Dupont Circle.
Liz:[Mark] came in, and I was like, All right, you know, he’s tall, cute. … This could be good. I think I shook his hand.
Mark: She’s gorgeous, and I just felt really lucky right away. I sort of thought, At some point we’re going to start checking off boxes or something, what people do on dates where they try to sniff you out. It never felt like either of us was doing that, which was cool.
Liz: I told him I was new to the area. Everyone was saying I should do online dating, and I didn’t really want to do that. I told him how I heard about Date Lab.
Mark: She was saying she’s still warming up to D.C., it’s not quite what she expected and the guys here are, I don’t know, a little buttoned-down and status-conscious. She clearly has a sort of 9-to-5 job, but she’s also taken a job at a flower shop just because she wants to meet different kinds of people.
Liz: Working where I work is great, but working at a florist or being in the service industry a little bit, you get to be on the other side and interact with people on a different level.
Mark: Her genuine interest in getting beyond mainstream Washington and trying to find the real heart of the city is something I find really interesting and attractive.
Liz: He was able to make conversation and tell funny anecdotes. It didn’t seem like he took himself too seriously.
Mark: She’s got a really almost explosive laugh. Her eyes kind of squint, and it’s adorable. I think we both have kind of a goofy side.
Liz: I asked him what word he would use to describe himself, [and] he said “enthusiastic.” I was like, “Yeah, I could see that!” I said mine was “quirky.”
Mark: [Her fish entrée] showed up on her plate with a head and tail and bones and stuff.
Liz: I was like, This is going to be pretty awkward, because I have no idea how to eat this!
Mark: Our waiter was a really nice guy and came over to offer to debone it for her. We learned his name and talked to him. [She’s] really forthright and welcoming to people. … That was a really attractive quality.
Liz: Mark was talking to [the waiter] and engaging with him. He was very easygoing about talking to a stranger: the other thing I thought was really great about him. We took the photos. ... He was like, “Oh, you look really nice.” He would say things like that.
Mark: [She has] a really infectious smile and laugh. So, without being a total goofball, I was looking for ways to bring that out more. There were times when she sort of moved her hair around, and it was sort of falling over her face. I thought that was really attractive.
Liz: There was no one else left in the restaurant, and it was a Tuesday night. So we got the check [and left].
Mark: I hugged her and gave her a kiss on the cheek. Which she seemed really receptive to. And then we went our separate ways. She texted me some photos as I was going home. She said [she] had a really lovely time and we should do it again when we’re not under the scrutiny of big brother. I was like, “Great.”
RATE THE DATE
Liz: Out of all the dates I’ve gone on in D.C., this was one of the best. [Mark is] really down-to-earth, good sense of humor, not hard on the eyes by any means. So I would say a 4.67, because I think there has to be room for improvement. Or maybe a 4.71.
Mark: Either a 4 or a 5. I’ll just give her a 5. Why not? There’s so much more to her, I think. I feel like [in our conversation] there was a lot of tips-of-the-iceberg there, interesting stuff, so I’m excited to get to know her better.
UPDATE: Well, as always seems to happen, schedules got in the way, and things are just really busy right now, and. ... Wait, hold on. … They got together for dinner at Estadio that weekend? And shared laughs over a mutual love of Hall & Oates? And at press time were already making plans for a third date? It’s a Date Lab miracle!
For stories, features such as Gene Weingarten, @Work Advice and more, visit WP Magazine.
Follow the Magazine on Twitter.
Like us on Facebook.
E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.