Date Lab

Sunday, June 8, 2008

7:30 P.M., LA CHAUMIERE, GEORGETOWN

Isabelle: I've never had a blind date, so I was really excited. I went to the hairdresser earlier in the day. I arrived at the restaurant early. Fred came five minutes late. I was surprised when I saw him. He looked pretty casual, you know, like he had not made a huge effort. It was quite different from the other diners in the restaurant. He's not unattractive, but I [like men who are] a little more muscular, a little less slender.

Fred: I don't know if I have a type, but Isabelle had a really nice face, and I responded to that. We're in very similar fields. I was a little amazed. In D.C. you don't run into a lot of people who do this type of thing. We talked for about a half-hour before we ordered anything. But I think she was maybe a little nervous.

Isabelle: I pulled my menu, and water dropped on the entire table. Then I think he did it, or the waiter tossed a second [glass]. I started laughing; it was very, very funny. You could see that we were a little bit uncomfortable. It was like in a movie or something.

Fred: Eventually, we did order. She told me about her life in Paris and how she came to America. I lived in Paris for a while, so I enjoyed hearing about it. I told her something about my own background. Honestly, she really didn't ask me much about me. She did most of the talking.

Isabelle: I was the one who asked more questions. He's a very interesting person, and we are pretty complementary in many ways. But in the past, he seems to really have dated highly intellectual women. I'm not stupid, but I don't have much pretense about being an intellectual. I'm not sure I would fulfill his expectations. And I'm not sure that at this point he's really interested [in dating]. I got the feeling from the general tenor of the conversation and the fact that he told me he was writing a book. I know what it takes; it requires all your attention.

Fred: It's true; I'm not so into all this right now. [Dating is] a thing that comes and goes, and this is a pretty busy time. And I'm not sure about chemistry. Something in me thinks Isabelle expected somebody a little different. She asked me how old I was.

Isabelle: That was a question that anybody would ask. Age was not an issue.

Fred: She's on the board of the Greenbelt Historical Society, and she was telling me that she would be glad to show me around. I've always wanted to go there, so I was like, "Yeah." Nobody was in a hurry to leave. But after 10 p.m., restaurants in Washington immediately become empty. You do feel a little self-conscious. Around 10:30, she asked me to walk her back to the Metro. On the way, she took me on a little architectural tour. We had a great time looking at buildings.

Isabelle: I gave him my business card, and he gave me his e-mail. In France, you would give two kisses on the cheek. But the end was just saying, "I hope you can come to Greenbelt." There was no body contact of any kind. Not even [a handshake]. I'd rate the date maybe a 3.5 [out of 5]. Sometimes people say, "I really like you," but this was not the case here. There was a certain reservedness from both of us. I will [contact him], but I don't know if it would be as a romantic date. Though maybe that's just a way to protect oneself.

Fred: I'd rate the date about 3.5. I'm still thinking about [whether there's romantic potential].

Interviews by Christina Breda Antoniades

UPDATE: Isabelle e-mailed Fred to "apologize if I said anything negative" in her post-date interviews. Fred dittoed and repeated that he'd like to see architecture together. But "I'm swamped," he says. "And I think that she is, too."

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