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Date Lab: When a first impression isn’t all about what you see

By Elizabeth Terry,

About the daters ...

Dating history as TV show ...

David: Imagine if Seinfeld underwent his quarterlife crisis, and all of his friends were there to make fun of him.

Holly: Long-term relationship dissolves, girl realizes that the single-women-to-single-men ratio in D.C. is really as grim as she’s heard. Fills out Date Lab questionnaire despite misgivings; crosses fingers.

Desired superpower ...

David: The power to magically get rid of people that stand on the left of the Metro escalators.

Holly: Teleporting, for mornings when biking to work seems like the most overwhelming task ever.

How you’re D.C. ...

David: I think a CNN analyst said it best by calling my demographic a “latte liberal.” And I’m on a kickball team.

Holly: I live in a group house with five Craigslist housemates. I’ve had my share of internships. I’m infuriated by people who stand to the left on Metro escalators.

Happiest when ...

David: When I am out on a long run on a nice, cool day or playing with my kitty.

Holly: When it’s beautiful weather, and I can go for a run after a long day of sitting in the office.

Interests to share ...

David: I would like to have someone that I could go on a run with, throw a Frisbee around, go for a bike ride, basically anything outside. I would hope she would lean more toward the left and she could be passionate about anything as long as she stands up for something.

Holly: I hope my date would be excited to explore new places by foot, bicycle and public transit. He’d be invested in his work and eager to share his day-to-day, as well as listen to me spout on about cities and transportation. He would respect organized religion but not be interested in pursuing it himself. He would willingly sign up for 5Ks, 10Ks and half-marathons with me

About the date ...

7:30 p.m., Taste of Tunisia, Arlington

Holly: I rode my bike [to the restaurant]. It was about a 45-minute ride, I figured it would be a good way to have some time to think beforehand, and also maybe a way to gauge compatibility, like if I was parking my bike and he drove up and parked his SUV. I walked in, and Dave was sitting there at a table.

David: I was sitting there just chilling. I stood up — I have sort of really bad vision, so I couldn’t see very well inside. Low vision is [an] appropriate term. Technically, I am legally blind based on my visual acuities. In the dark or at night, I can see almost nothing. It’s hard for me to get a first visual impression. That same sort of thing happens if I meet someone at a club or at a bar, but usually in those situations, my vision issues are pretty apparent when they first meet me, so it’s ... not such a shock [to the other person]. So I had no frame of reference to say what she looked like, until we sat down and I could see her a little better. She was by the light; she was pretty cute.

Holly: He wasn’t really making eye contact, which I thought was because he was nervous, but [later I realized it was because] he has a visual impairment, so I think maybe I had a false first impression because of the circumstances. He immediately jumped in and started asking me about myself, telling stories, offering information about himself, which was nice.

David: I had two little things that I always carry with me: One is a cane; [the other is] this thing that looks like a phone, but it’s actually an electronic magnifying glass, and I was like, “Let me just tell you about my weird vision and get that out of the way.” She seemed not fazed by it at all, which was totally cool.

Holly: Another sort of quirk was that the restaurant [wasn’t] serving alcohol because [of] Ramadan. I think we both were hoping to have at least one drink! So we chatted for a bit over lemonade. He told me about the races that he’s done, like a half-marathon in Bermuda. And he’s going to Amsterdam in the fall to run a marathon, so that seemed appealing to me, that he travels to new places and uses running as a way to do that.

David: She mentioned playing Ultimate Frisbee, running, [and] being an avid biker. When the waiter came over, I was like, “Well, I’m going to be one of those crazy vegetarians here,” and she was like, “Oh, I’m a vegetarian, too.” [It surprised me] how many things we did have in common. I’ve never met someone who’s a vegetarian biker, runner and ultimate Frisbee player and who does yoga. Which, with my hippie tendencies, would seem like somebody I would always come across. Usually I might get one of those characteristics, but a compendium of all of them was very nice.

Holly: He definitely came across as a smart, attractive person, but I guess I noticed that he had a very self-deprecating sense of humor. Which is great: You’re not taking yourself too seriously, but it was a little bit over-the-top almost. Like at one point, I asked him if he had a housemate, and he said, “Well, I do have this 91 / 2-year-old cat, and she’s my longest female relationship.” I don’t know if I would say that on a blind date. And not just because I’m not really into cats.

David: Hopefully I didn’t misinterpret anything, but when we started to take pictures, she came over to my side of the table and sat next to me, which I thought was pretty nice, and I assume that if she was not interested in flirting, she wouldn’t have come to that side of the table. And then we took a couple of pictures standing up, and she easily put her arm around me, which I thought was pretty cute.

Holly: I think that we had some good points in the conversation where it felt natural, so that was nice, but I wouldn’t say anything beyond that, though. I guess I was most worried about trying to give the right verbal cues, because so much of meeting someone new is about body language, but I wasn’t sure how much he could see me smile at his jokes or shake my head, so I was trying to make like little interjections, like “uh-huh” and “right,” like that. So I was kind of nervous in the back of my mind throughout the evening, just trying to make sure that I was communicating with him enough. I think he had a nice time, but I don’t know if I really put him at ease as much as I should or could have. We wrapped up [dinner] around 10:30. He suggested that we get a drink at one of the bars nearby, but I was sort of ready to part ways.

David: She walked me to the Metro, and we exchanged numbers. Hopefully I can do something again with her. I would do something in the daylight, which is a little bit easier for me. I would probably suggest either kayaking or a bike ride or running. I would say [the date was] a 4 [out of 5]. I was really excited about it, it was a lot of fun, I liked learning more about her and I definitely want to see how things could progress from that.

Holly: Can I give [the date] a 2.5? I guess that I had some doubts whether our personalities were quite the right fit. It did feel like it was an enjoyable evening; I don’t want to give the wrong impression. I could see maybe going for runs with him as a running partner but not going out on another date.

UPDATE: David called Holly about a second date, but she declined. He says: “I would have preferred to see her again, hopefully in a less awkward predicament, but that’s cool if she wasn’t interested. It was a good experience.”

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

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