7:30 P.M., BLACKSALT, PALISADES
Carolyn: Before the date, I'd been asking my clients and students if I should wear this neat, open-back dress that I have, or jeans and a nice shirt. One client said, "Definitely wear the dress." I got to the restaurant maybe 10 minutes early, sat down and ordered a glass of wine. Then Van came in. He has a friendly face; he's really clean-cut, well-dressed and fit-looking. But even though he's tall and strong, he doesn't look like a big guy. I'm bigger than most girls, so I tend to like guys that have that powerful physical presence.
Van: She's definitely cute, pretty tall and really fit. And she's a trainer, so she's really good putting people at ease. I could feel that right away when we started talking.
Carolyn: I can see why we were set up. He's a terrific athlete, and it seemed like we were in the same place in our lives; we're both really happy. He has this great job, a great social life. He went through a divorce three years ago, and it was about three years ago that my fiance and I broke up, so I could relate to him trying to find himself again. He didn't put any walls up. We talked for a while before we even ordered anything.
Van: We had a lot in common. Her outlook is "no excuses." She's in control of her destiny, and that's how I look at things. I felt that there was some chemistry.
Carolyn: Everything was great on paper, but I didn't feel that attraction. And I don't think it's there for him, either. Normally when I wear that dress, men compliment me. He didn't say anything at all flirtatious.
Van: I'm kind of oblivious to things like that. And we were sitting in a booth. But later we went into the tasting room to take pictures. She's a world fitness champion, and I could tell she works out. I'm thinking, I think she could take me. It was funny.
Carolyn: We ordered three desserts, and people near us kept looking at them. Van and I both said, "You can try some." One guy came over and tried a forkful. Van was really cool [about it]. I thought: This is an easygoing guy who can talk to anybody. I really wish I really liked him [romantically]. At around 10 p.m., I think, we were both tired and ready to go.
Van: She gave me her card, and I e-mailed her from my phone right then, so she'd have my e-mail address. Then I walked her to her car.
Carolyn: He is a more reserved person than I am -- he was just going to do a quick hug, and I gave him a big hug and kiss on the cheek. I'd rate the date a 3.9 [out of 5]. This guy is great, but you can't make that spark happen.
Van: The peck was a little unexpected, but I take that as a good sign. I said, "We should definitely do this again." I would rate the date a 4.5. She's a wonderful girl.
Interviews by Christina Breda Antoniades
Update: Van e-mailed. A couple days later, Carolyn called Date Lab to say: "The more I think about it, the more great I think Van is ... I'm definitely going to try to date him. Cross your fingers for us."
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