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Sunday, August 31, 2008

7:30 P.M., LEVANTE'S, DUPONT CIRCLE

Olga: [On the way to the date,] every guy you see you think, Is that him? It's anxious and exciting. At the restaurant, I saw some guy walking in, and I was like, Oh, I guess that's him. I followed him in.

Daniel: The manager wasn't there, and nobody had a clue about Date Lab. I'm trying to make [the servers] understand and introduce myself to Olga. It was awkward. But she was cute. She had this cute accent; she was nicely dressed. Her whole demeanor was attractive.

Olga: He's not the kind of guy that I'm attracted to. The edge was missing, the bad boy image. I kind of made up my mind that it wasn't going to go anywhere. Maybe this is why I'm still single; I want to have an instant spark.

Daniel: She told me [Date Lab is] the first thing she reads every Monday, and she wanted her 15 minutes of fame. That was a bit of a turnoff, like she just wanted exposure. She also mentioned that she knows people that have done Date Lab, and their experiences were horrendous. I told her: "I hope I'm normal. How are things going?" And she was like, "Fine." I read it like, It's not like you blew me off my feet, but it's going okay.

Olga: I applied earlier in the year to [the Washington Post column] Chef on Call, so it might seem like I'm looking for fame. But I was joking. The conversation was fine. We talked about family, traveling, getting adjusted to American culture. He said most people gain weight when they come to the United States. He just started being a vegetarian, and he said the reason was to lower his cholesterol. I'm not sure how I was supposed to respond to that. "Oh, no, you don't need to lose weight"? He wasn't a supermodel, but he didn't look grossly overweight or anything. I wanted a cocktail, so when the waiter came over, Daniel was like, "The lady will have blah, blah, blah." I was taken aback; I'm used to speaking for myself.

Daniel: At first, I was really attracted. She's very cute and sarcastic and witty. But I totally got the sense that she wasn't interested. I didn't see any effort on her part to try to get to know me. We had a couple of uncomfortable silences. And a lot of things, I'd express an opinion and she'd come out with the opposite. She's a twin, and I asked her, "Do you have a connection [with your twin]?" She was like, "That's B.S." I was like, Just say, no, you don't. I can totally understand someone disagreeing with a couple of things, but I was 10-and-0 the whole night.

Olga: I [know] that I have a tendency to shut down if I don't feel any sparks, so I made a conscious effort to be present and ask questions. He mentioned one of the places that he goes dancing and said that I might be interested in going there. I was like, "Thanks for the suggestion."

Daniel: I took it like, "I'll check it out but not with you." We ordered dessert. She was upset that the cameras were so cheap and she'd look bad. She looked miserable. The vibe I got was, "Let's just take the pictures and get out of there."

Olga: I was just joking I should have brought my own camera because its quality is better. But it was super awkward having a waiter take pictures of you in a restaurant and taking pictures with somebody you don't really know. Around 10:30, I said, "Ready to go?" and he said, "Sure." So we left.

Daniel: We took [Metro's Red Line] together. Then I kind of felt like she kicked me out. Both of us live in [Northern Virginia]. We were talking nicely, and at Metro Center she's like, "This is your station; you'd better get out." I was like, "Aren't you?" And she was like, "No, I'm going to Gallery Place." The Yellow Line was definitely faster for her, but we could have both taken the Blue Line and spent more time together.

Olga: He gave me a hug, and that was it. The date wasn't horrible: He was nice, the conversation was fine, and the place was fine. But I didn't feel an attraction. If rating the date is about how much you want to see the person again, this was a 3 [out of 5].

Daniel: I'd rate the date a 1. I think the most off-putting thing was that she made up her mind from the beginning and didn't even try to get to know me. I wish she had at least tried to make the best of the experience.

Interviews by Christina Breda Antoniades

UPDATE: Even if they had wanted to look each other up -- which, um, they didn't -- it would be hard. "I don't even know her last name," Daniel says.


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