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Sunday, November 18, 2007

7:30 p.m., Ray's the Classics, Silver Spring

Ben: I'm an old-fashioned romantic. I'd gone through a lot of trouble to find the biggest, reddest rose to give my date. Then Shannon floated in and, ohmigod, she looked great! Nice dress, hair done, a very nice figure and toned, tan skin.

Shannon: When I walked in, I saw a man standing at the bar holding a flower, so I put two and two together. He was nice-looking, very nicely dressed and had a great smile. We introduced ourselves, and he gave me the rose. I was surprised -- it's not a typical thing to do on a blind date. But who wouldn't be happy to get a flower?

Ben: I ordered a couple glasses of shiraz, and we chose appetizers. At first, I didn't make enough eye contact, but my nerves got better after about 15 minutes. She said she worked for the Senate or something -- I figured she had to be in some kind of very intelligent, public relations-type job.

Shannon: He said he owns a mechanic shop, that he builds race cars and races them. Him being a mechanic didn't bother me whatsoever. I mean, I once dated an oil-rig diver. And I don't meet too many people who've raced cars for a living.

Ben: I put my all into building those cars and managing the team, and the effort paid off. My team won a couple of SCCA [Sports Car Club of America] championships.

Shannon: He started describing the specifics of the car and races his team had won. A couple of times, I had to say to him, "I have no clue what you're talking about." He was intense.

Ben: I ordered a steak, and she had an awesome crab cake. She asked if I wanted to try it, which I thought was cool. She's a sexy woman, and she was wearing the sexiest fragrance in the world -- I could smell little wafts of it the whole night.

Shannon: I got the sense that he really wanted our date to work out. But I could've been anybody -- it was like I was a bystander. I started to feel I was having dinner with a male friend who didn't know it wasn't a date.

Ben: We got along great; there was chemistry. Not playing footsie under the table, but about halfway into the evening, she made a mention of maybe there being a second date. Let's just say I could sense that she really wanted to be there.

Shannon: There was no flirting, no signals and not a lot of chemistry. By the time we were done with dessert and coffee, I was ready to go home. He held my hand as we were crossing the street. When we got to my car, I leaned in for a hug goodbye -- and his lips were right there. It wasn't something I wanted to do.

Ben: That kiss was the highlight of the evening! I saw that flash of light, and I hit the throttle! Can I give the date a 6 [out of 5]? She's someone I'd love to have in my world. As random as this sounds, I could see being with someone like her for a long time -- that's my gut feeling.

Shannon: I'd give it a 4. I was there to have a good time and a good date, but he was already way ahead of that.

Interviews by Jill Hudson Neal

UPDATE: Finding out Shannon just wasn't into him didn't please Ben, who partly blamed her demanding job: "If you want to hide behind your computer, then it's going to be kind of hard to have a boyfriend, now isn't it?" Shannon responded, "Can I change my rating to a 3.5?"

DATE LAB IS LOOKING FOR singles. Go to washingtonpost.com/datelab for details.


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