Date Lab: She's given up on local men. Can he redeem his peers?
7:30 P.M., MARKET INN, SOUTHWEST
Sonya: I got home from work around 5:45 p.m. I'd already picked out what I was going to wear: a simple black dress. I wasn't going to do anything too fancy. I got to the restaurant around 7:40, and the maitre d' showed me to Zebulon's table. I was like, Oh, he's cute. Cute is different from, Oh, my God. He wasn't sexy or debonair, and he's my height. Most of the guys I date are tall. But he had a nice smile, great skin, and his hands were clean and neat. I was attracted. I know that because I didn't leave.
Zebulon: She was very attractive -- tall, athletic, pretty smile. By the way she carried herself I could tell she has some manners, people skills. But a pretty face is a dime a dozen. I wanted to get to know her.
Sonya: [The conversation] did start off kind of slow. His main thing was "Why did they hook us up?" He was like, "Why are we here? Why are we here?" I thought, Maybe he doesn't want to be here. I think the tide turned when he said something about his job travels him a lot. That got us moving.
Zebulon: We'd been to a bunch of [the same] places and had similar impressions of some, like San Diego and San Antonio. She's socially conscious -- she said she wants to do the Peace Corps -- and I actually thought of doing the Peace Corps, but I couldn't see myself living that lifestyle. We talked about how in our circles a lot of people don't like beer. They drink cocktails, like martinis, and mixed drinks. Her liking beer made her cooler in my book.
Sonya: I'm always complaining, like "Do black guys like beer?" We started talking about my dream of going to Germany for Oktoberfest. That was really cool. I'm not from this area, and the natives [I've dated] have been a complete and total turnoff. They're more aggressive, and I guess the women cater to them in a way that I never would, accepting poor behavior. If someone had said, "I want to set you up with this guy from Bowie, Maryland," I'd have been like, "Um, I don't think so." But getting to know Zebulon was really cool. He seemed open-minded and very real, very honest -- no smoke and mirrors.
Zebulon: There was a lot of joking. I wanted to do a funny photo -- pretend that one of us was running towards the door. But the restaurant staff was like, "Don't do it. You two look so cute together."
Sonya: I could be reading too much into it, but when we were taking pictures there was hugging, or him putting his hand around my waist. I didn't have that pull-away feeling. I felt a real vibe, like a real human connection. I could totally see myself going out with him again.
Zebulon: We had dessert and after-dinner drinks. It was 10:30. I think we were the last ones in the restaurant. As we were leaving, I said, "Hey, we've got to check out another spot. Let's do this again." She said, "Yes, we have to." I walked to her car; we hugged and exchanged phone numbers. Later, she texted me to let me know that she got home safely. I would rate the date 4.5 [out of 5]. I'm going to give her a call.
Sonya: Whatever happens, happens. But I hope we go out again. I'd give it a 4.
Interviews by Christina Breda Antoniades
Update: After meeting for lunch, Zebulon and Sonya were looking forward to date No. 3. "He's very cool and down-to-earth," Sonya says.
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