7:30 p.m., Mio, near McPherson Square
Step: After work, I went home, showered, shaved, put on some smell-good. I got [to the restaurant] about 10 minutes early. The manager brought me a DonQ rum and Coke.
Jenifer: It took me about an hour and a quarter to drive downtown [from Maryland], so I was late. Step was sitting out of my view, sort of behind a pole. He stood up, and we shook hands. He was very nice-looking, polite and presentable -- simple and elegant.
Step: I wasn't wowed by her, probably because she wasn't dressed appropriately. She was wearing some sandals that were practically flip-flops, a cotton skirt, a farmer's daughter's shirt, no makeup. I'd made an effort; she looked like she just showed up in whatever. Maybe she was trying to say right away, "Take me how I am."
Jenifer: I was wearing a linen blouse and a pashmina scarf. The sandals were really nice beaded Kenneth Cole Reaction flats -- I paid $45 for them, are you kidding me? I was hungry from my long commute and didn't want to linger, so they seated us. We started off by telling each other our list of things we'd like to do. He wants to visit every continent; I'd like to go thermal pool-hopping in Iceland.
Step: We hit a snag really early.
Jenifer: I told him that I'd moved back from Martha's Vineyard because Bush started the war and the economy tanked. He laughed and said, "You can't say he started the war." I thought, Okay, not on the same page.
Step: Maybe she assumed I was a conservative, which I'm not. It was just funny that she'd gone for the jugular right away with someone she'd just met. But that took care of talking about politics for the rest of the night.
Jenifer: Within the first minutes, I knew there was nothing between us. He lacked a certain maturity. He said something like, "You go, girl," a couple of times, and he kept calling me "dude." I thought, Um, no.
Step: She was very easy to talk to, lively and engaging, but there were several points during dinner where I knew I should back off. She volunteered a lot of information. She'd been engaged, but called it off, and alluded to having tragic things happen in her past. If I asked too pointed a question, she'd hesitate, take a sip of water or look away. Maybe it was cathartic for her to share all that stuff. I did think toward the end, I should've gone to the Arctic Monkeys concert tonight.
Jenifer: I don't drink; he had five cocktails by the end of the night.
Step: She insisted on giving me a ride home. I didn't want to be rude, so I said, "Sure." She drove six blocks, then said, "Is it all right if I let you out here?" I was about a mile from my house. I wanted to say, "Why'd you even offer?" She'd been so open at dinner, then just turned. Maybe she regretted telling me some stuff.
Jenifer: He was going to walk home anyway, so what's the problem? He went to get out of the car, and I was like, "Give me a hug." Like, thanks for the nice night. I didn't feel the need to exchange numbers. I'd give the date a 3 and some change [out of 5].
Step: [It's] a pretty low rating, like a 3. If I'd been physically attracted and there'd been less tragedy in her background and she hadn't put me out in the middle of the night, then maybe it would've been higher.
Interviews by Jill Hudson Neal
UPDATE: Step and Jenifer haven't seen each other since the farewell at a stoplight, and "never expected to," says Step.
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