Date Lab: Race and politics: First date chatter or bad idea?

Sunday, December 28, 2008


Son: I got to the restaurant about 20 minutes early, so I sat at the bar and had a beer. I wasn't sure if my date was going to be Asian, so I was pleasantly surprised when she was. She was definitely a head turner. And her outfit, a gray skirt and black cashmere sweater, looked very professional. To me that's really attractive.

Caroline: When I got there, Son was giving some guy directions on places to go in D.C. I liked that he could have random conversations with [strangers]. I thought he was attractive, but there's a difference between finding someone attractive and actually being attracted to them. I don't know if I'm attracted to him.

Son: We each ordered a glass of wine and decided to share an appetizer. I was looking at the calamari, but she wanted the arugula salad, so I was willing to try it. At first we were trying to figure out why The Post set us up. We thought it might be the Asian thing. Then she asked me if I was a Democrat, so we thought that might be it.

Caroline: We were talking a lot, mainly talked about politics, the election, the financial crisis, how [President-elect Barack] Obama fares in the Asian community. Politics and policy are important to me, and if a guy can't handle that, it's not going to work out. I also mentioned that I love to snorkel. He does, too, so we talked about the best places to snorkel.

Son: My friends tell me I should never talk politics on a first date, but I'd like to find a person who's comfortable with that stuff, and she was. We seemed to agree on a lot. We also talked about where to get good Vietnamese food and how D.C. doesn't have a Chinatown; it's more of a China block. About 15 minutes into the date, she did suggest that we should have some rules on what was off the record. Given her occupation, she thinks four steps ahead. I was okay with it, but it made me think I shouldn't pry.

Caroline: The intent was to separate the Washington Post interview from the conversation we were having. When you know you're going to be talking to a reporter, there's a focus on whether the other person will like you, as opposed to when you go on a regular date and the emphasis is on whether you like the other person. [But] it wasn't a well-thought-out plan, and it didn't get that far.

Son: When it came time for dessert, we decided to share again. It was cute. I could tell she didn't want to order something I didn't want. So I ordered the carrot cake because I love carrot cake and the brownie sundae because she was looking at that. When the bill came, we went over [the Date Lab allotment] by about $20, so I gave the waitress my credit card.

Caroline: It's a good sign when I let the guy pay. My general approach is, if I enjoy someone's company, I'll let them pay.

Son: After dinner, I was pretty tired and she was trying to get a ride home from friends who were in the area. I wish I could have had more time with her, but it was late and it was good to end on a high note. We hugged and exchanged business cards. I'd give the date a 3.75 out of 5. There wasn't an instant romantic spark, but I'd like to think there's potential.

Caroline: I'd give it a 3.5. I had a really fun time. He's very attractive, smart, warm and has got a lot of good opinions. I'd be happy to see him again.

Interview by Michelle Hainer

UPDATE: At last check, Caroline and Son had gone out for dinner and were going out again that night. "He's great and a lot of fun," she says.

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