Date Lab

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Terry: I live and work in the suburbs, so I don't get into Washington much. The day of the date, I got to the restaurant early. The hostess said, "You're the first one here, go and have a seat." [When Zelma walked in,] I was quite pleasantly surprised. She was very pretty in the face, and in the physical department, she dotted all the I's and slashed the T's.

Zelma: I thought Terry was an attractive guy. We shook hands, and I sat down. But I could tell right away he was a smoker -- if you look at somebody's face you notice that the teeth and lips aren't as sparkly as they could be. I asked him a couple of questions to get the ball rolling.

Terry: I wanted to show her that I wasn't timid. I told her I went to school in the U.K.; I'm a defense policy analyst; I work for a government contractor; and I traveled and lived abroad. I told her I was married twice and volunteered that I have a son. I'm a greenhorn when it comes to Italian food -- I'm more into spicy -- but I'll try anything once.

Zelma: By the time our appetizers were cleared and the entrees arrived, I knew quite a bit about him. It's almost impossible for me to date someone at this stage of life who doesn't have at least one divorce or a child, so that wasn't [a problem]. But for someone who has lived overseas, he didn't seem as adventurous as I'd have guessed. And I don't remotely resemble the women he married and those he's recently dated.

Terry: If she's talking about race, I've dated across the color lines. To me, a beautiful woman is a beautiful woman. And if she's talking about body type, she's perfect. I was surprised how we just clicked. We liked a lot of the same TV shows, museums, live jazz. When she told me her birthday is three days before mine, it was like, Is this fate or what?

Zelma: He pretty much came out and told me, "You're the kind of person I could see myself spending time with." I took it as a compliment. The only time I was not as comfortable was when we sat next to each other to take a picture, and he put his hand on my leg. It's not like he was feeling up my thigh, but I thought that was a little more contact than we needed.

Terry: After dinner, she got up to use the restroom. I used that opportunity to sneak outside for a cigarette. Then I put a breath mint in and came back.

Zelma: I figured that's what he was doing, though he didn't tell me he smoked. It didn't make a favorable impression.

Terry: We shared desserts. I was on cloud nine, thinking, I don't want this date to end. Unfortunately, it was a school night. I'm going out of town for several months [but said] I'd be available this weekend if she wanted to meet up.

Zelma: I said, "This is one of the weekends I'm traveling," which is true.

Terry: The date ended about maybe 10 of 11. I walked her to her car and gave her the e-mail address and my telephone number. On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest, I'd rate the date a 10.

Zelma: I thought, I don't want to give my information, but maybe I'll e-mail him. I'd rate the date a 2 1/2. It wasn't torturous or anything, but I didn't feel like we had a connection.

Interviews by Christina Breda Antoniades

UPDATE: By the next morning, Zelma had changed her mind about e-mailing. "I thought: 'Mmmm, no. I don't think we're a good match at all.'?"

WANT DATE LAB TO SET YOU UP? Go to for details.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company