Wendy: I play with my dog, which always makes me run late.
Ben: Read Mike Allen’s daily Politico Playbook e-mail. Seriously.
Wendy: Outdoors kayaking or hiking on a nice day, laughing with friends and family. Working with kids can also be great.
Ben: Sitting under the stars after a long day hiking, telling stories with friends by the campfire, passing a flask around before camping down for the night.
Wendy: I’m funny, intelligent and easy to get along with. I was a college athlete and make sure to keep in shape; I also love playing in local leagues for fun and a little competition! I’m very compassionate. I avoid drama as much as possible.
Ben: I’m friendly, funny, adventurous and confident. I’m nice, but I’m not boring. I have a law degree from an Ivy League school, but I’m otherwise the product of public education and therefore enjoy normal activities such as watching football, drinking beer, barbecuing, etc.
Wendy: FUNNY. CLEVER. KIND. Sorry to yell, but I can’t stress these enough! I have had the funny guy and the nice guy but realize I need both for it to work. Oh, also definitely someone who is not moving anytime soon.
Ben: I’m looking for smart, funny, hot tomboys. A woman who reads great books but also watches crappy reality television; who loves the outdoors but also owns more than one pair of high heels; who gets excited to go to the opera and to see a “Monday Night Football” game live. Physically, I’ve never objected to tall and blond.
Wendy: “Supernova” by Liz Phair ... definitely.
Ben: “Baby Did a Bad, Bad Thing” by Chris Isaak.
About the date ...
7:30 p.m., Pesce, Dupont Circle
Wendy: I took off a little early from work so I wouldn’t be rushed. I got a good workout in so I’d be nice and relaxed, but on the Metro I was still a little nervous. I got there 15 minutes early or so, and he showed up right on time.
Ben: There were two immediate sensations. The first was, Wow, she’s really attractive; so, well done, Date Lab. She has terrific hair [and] a really fetching smile. The second was that, at Pesce, they don’t have menus per se, they have a board that they show people. So, there was a board sitting across from her. She immediately cracked a joke, saying, “Oh, I thought the board was my date.” So, I was like: Okay, (a) she’s funny, and (b) I’m pretty sure I have more personality than a board, so I’m gonna beat this board.
Wendy: He was very cute. He’s a little bit, not preppy, but more clean-cut than I would usually go for. But he’s more the type of person I’m looking for now. His personality, that’s far more important to me than how someone looks — but he is very attractive. We just instantly started talking. We sat there for quite a long time talking before we ordered anything.
Ben: Immediately, I could see the machinations of Date Lab at work. Right away, she mentioned that she works in education and she’d just gone to Alaska and she’s been to Montana. I go there every year, and I’m obsessed with Alaska, even though I’ve yet to go there. She’s super outdoorsy; she’s relaxed. One of the things I felt after talking to her all night was she’s definitely one of the most West Coast people I’ve ever met who’s never lived on the West Coast.
Wendy: I recently went to Seattle and San Francisco. I really like it out there. He was saying I’m very West Coast because I’m into yoga and was into raw foods recently. He was telling me a little bit about his experience there [on the West Coast]; I’ve lived here [in the D.C. area] my whole life, so it was good to get his perspective on it. A friend from San Diego has also said I’m “West Coast.”
Ben: I’m from Seattle originally, I spent the last seven years in San Francisco; there’s just a West Coast thing that’s very different. There’s not a frenetic energy to being on the West Coast. People tend to feel a little more comfortable with themselves, and they’re not always trying to prove themselves to others. Not that everyone is falling into that cliche in Washington, but there’s a healthy dose of that. She just has this really grounded, centered personality. I found it really relaxing, frankly, because I don’t think that’s the norm out here.
Wendy: He’s very gregarious. He asked me a lot of questions, but it wasn’t because the conversation was dragging or anything; he just seemed genuinely interested in getting to know me. He seemed really positive. He was really clever; I know that’s one thing I had mentioned that I was looking for. And he laughed at my jokes, which is always a positive. We played off of each other really well.
Ben: At one point, I mentioned something about a weekend I spent up in the country, outside of Frederick, Maryland, and her eyes sort of lit up. She said, “Did you like that?” and I was like, “Absolutely.” I personally don’t want to go full-on country living at this stage in my life, and yet I feel this real tension between urban pressure and wanting to get away from it all. ... That really resonated with her.
Wendy: When we were in Alaska for work, for example, my favorite part wasn’t staying in the really nice hotel, [it was] staying near Denali National Park, in cabins; you know, there were giant mosquitoes, but I didn’t care. That would be ideal for me — camping, and rafting. ... That’s important to me.
Ben: We ate, and we were having wine. It was about 9:30 when we left. We were going to try the karaoke place down the street, Cafe Japone, but it was completely dead. I’m pretty adventurous, but singing karaoke alone to an empty bar seemed like a bad idea. So, we went across the street to Pizzeria Paradiso and had more drinks.
Wendy: I think definitely [there was chemistry]. I’m flirty, but I don’t really put myself out there trying hard to let someone know that I like them. I figure that will just come out. We were complimenting each other a lot. He mentioned a couple times going out again, and I think it was just understood that we would, so that was nice.
Ben: We were like, “Well, we have not completely fulfilled our obligation with the photos,” so we walked over to Dupont Circle. We hung out and sat on a bench and talked more. We left at ... around 11:30.
Wendy: We both wanted to function at work the next day. He walked me to the Metro. It was starting to rain. He gave me a kiss goodnight, which was nice. We both obviously like each other.
Ben: I texted her and said I had a fantastic time. On a numerical scale, it’s a 4.5, or maybe even a 5 [out of 5.] It went as well as it could possibly go.
Wendy: I’d give [the date] a 4.5. Only because, knowing your date’s going to be published, you hold back a little bit. Next time ... I think it will be more relaxed. As a person, having fun with him, I’d give him a 5.
UPDATE: Ben was about to head out of town ... so these two motivated daters got together again the very next night, before he shipped out. Unfortunately, it now seems some personal issues might take Ben out of Washington for the foreseeable future. “It’s bad timing,” Wendy laments. “If those things weren’t going on, we might see each other again.”