Date Lab

Sunday, August 26, 2007

7:30 p.m., Cafe Bonaparte, Georgetown

Erik: [When I got to the restaurant,] Elif was already there, chatting with the bartender. Her look was a weird mix of retro and modern, which is unusual for D.C.

Elif: Erik's a good-looking kid: Rapier build, [Pabst Blue Ribbon] belt buckle, gold Puma sneakers and hair that was up in a Jimmy Neutron swoop. He's very hip, and he knew it. I'm more formal; I always dress like I'm in a 1940s movie, with full makeup and beautiful lips. We went to a very small table and ordered cosmos.

Erik: She said she'd acted in an avant-garde production of "Macbeth," and everything that we had in common started coming out. Shakespeare quotes were flying -- at one point, she dropped a T.S. Eliot reference.

Elif: We could talk about the same smart-kid stuff; that was really titillating. He asked if I'd read The Crying of Lot 49, and I said, "Yeah, I love Pynchon." So he shows me his shoulder, where he has the novel's symbol--the [Trystero] post horn--tattooed onto his flesh! I did shriek in a mock teenager way: "I'll just have to bear your children right now!"

Erik: Once I realized how well-read she was, I knew she'd get it. She's hilarious and dramatic, always moving and making crazy expressions, and her arms are waving around.

Elif: We both admitted to being misanthropes, but I kind of give in to it more than he does. He goes out almost every night; I could stay home and have a cup of tea on most.

Erik: We didn't talk about our dating history, though mine came up -- totally naturally -- in the course of discussing how I'd picked up French from an ex-girlfriend.

Elif: It came up in an organic way -- but mold is organic, too, and not all that nice. At some point, he also told me that he'd spent the last six months reading naked in bed. Like, instead of watching television. I had to turn away from him to laugh because I thought, That's a fantastic line!

Erik: After dinner, I asked her if she wanted to get another drink somewhere else. We walked into the first bar we came to and each had a beer. Then she offered to drive me [home], which was very gracious.

Elif: When we got to his house, he asked if I needed to come up -- to get a glass of water, use the bathroom. My mind was going back through [a bunch of] movies to see what you should do. I did wonder if I was supposed to kiss him. But it just wasn't right. Instead, we had one of those awkward car hugs where you twist around the steering wheel. I was going to take out my card, but he whipped out his cell and dialed in my number.

Erik: I give the date a solid 4 [out of 5]. I'm approaching her as a friend -- there were no crazy sparks flying -- but it's rare that you find a girl who can quote Eliot and Shakespeare in an unpretentious way on a first date. I'll definitely invite her out with friends.

Elif: It was a 4.5 -- a really great first date. Although we didn't flirt, we were so comfortable with each other from the first moment we met. I think we were both being very cautious and not chasing romance. But I'd definitely like to go out with him again.

Interviews by Jill Hudson Neal

UPDATE: Elif and Erik met for drinks a couple of times after their first date and agree that there isn't any romance. Elif says she's "accepted my sister-friend status."

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