Date Lab: He takes her on a lovely moonlit walk. But will a fourth-quarter fumble spoil the night?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

7:30 p.m., Asia Nine, Penn Quarter

Jennifer: I was watching a Redskins game at home all the way up to [the date]. There were six minutes left, and I was like, Crap! I have to leave! At the restaurant, we had this table way in the back. As soon as I saw Rob I thought, He looks okay. If there's such a thing as the girl next door, he would definitely be the guy next door. I've dated from the super-good-looking to your not-so-great-looking guys; he was right in the middle. Which was actually a relief, 'cause when you're thinking blind date, you never know.

Rob: I thought, Whoa, she's African American. Then I thought, Okay, this is cool. She was about my height, which was good, and she looked like a woman with a great athletic frame. We started talking about ourselves. I told her I was a teacher and artist and actually had a show coming up.

Jennifer: [That] was very cool. I told him, "Regardless of whatever happens here, I would love to come." It's a nervous situation; he was [literally] sitting on his hands for a little bit. But he let the conversation flow. At about the moment the drinks came was when I noticed he seemed to get comfortable. And it didn't have to do with the drinks; it took him basically the entire meal to drink his pint of Sapporo.

Rob: My friends had been like, "Is this person going to be a Christian?" And I thought, I'm just going to throw it out there. She said she'd worked for the Christian Broadcasting Network for a while before moving up from Virginia Beach.

Jennifer: The fact that we are both Christians was really great because it enabled us to talk about our churches and our faith. In D.C., it's very rare to meet other people like that. Also, in true D.C. fashion, there was already a little bit of a connection. When he mentioned [a Maryland church], I'm like, "My parents are deacons there!" I didn't think there was a romantic spark, though. Throughout the meal, I kept thinking, This is like having dinner with a friend I hadn't seen in, ever.

Rob: After the meal, we hung around a little longer, and then I said to her, "Why don't we take a short walk to the Capitol building?" I thought it'd be a way to hang out with her a little longer. I found her attractive, and I know she thought I was interesting. If there were sparks, it was when we decided to go for a walk.

Jennifer: We went to that point at the Capitol building where you can look in the other direction and see the Washington Monument. That's where he thought we should take pictures, which was brilliant. So many years in the city, and I'd never been there before. I was like, "Oh, my gosh." But I don't recall any moment where I felt like there were sparks. I thought we maintained the same comfort level that we had [at dinner].

Rob: She gave me her number; I asked for it. [But the end of the date] might have been a downer. I was getting ready to head towards the Chinatown Metro, and she was like, "I've got to head the other way." We just said goodbye. I didn't get a hug or anything. It happened pretty quick.

Jennifer: Seriously, he just veered off down the street. Like, "See ya later!" Very abrupt. If we were friends, that's completely what we would have done, but in this context, it was strange. I give the date a 3.75 [out of 5]. Obviously, without the spark, a whole point comes off. And I dock him a quarter of a point for the weird send-off. But otherwise it really was an enjoyable evening. I definitely want to stay in touch.

Rob: Looking back, I feel bad that I did that. Maybe I was nervous about appearing too pushy. [But] I would rate the date a 5. I felt like there was some sort of connection there.

Interviews by Stephen Lowman

Update: The two met up for coffee a couple of weekends later. Although Jennifer has told Rob she doesn't see them "going in a romantic direction," she still plans to attend his art show.

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