Date Lab: He's a Republican staffer. She's got a crush on Obama. Can they overcome the political divide?
7:30 p.m., Mar de Plata, Logan Circle
Brandon: I'm a member of [a black Republican association]. The night of the date, I took our constitution on the Metro with me, to do some editing in preparation for our meeting this week. I got to the restaurant early, so I decided to take my seat and finish up. When Me'Shell came in, I put the papers down.
Me'Shell: [The hostess] took me to the table. When Brandon looked at me I thought, Okay, he's attractive. He got up, and I saw he was tall; that was even better. He had a nice build and nice eyes.
Brandon: I definitely noticed her smile, and when I helped her take off her jacket, I noticed her shape was incredible. We started general introductions. She grew up in Buffalo, and Buffalo is the only place I've been in New York, so we talked about that a little bit before ordering our food. She told me later on she was a little nervous at the beginning, but I couldn't tell.
Me'Shell: I'm very much into politics, and he is, as well. The only problem is that he's on the opposite side of me. I figured it out because he said he worked on the Hill, [and his is] a very red state. I asked, "If you don't mind me asking, are you a Republican?" He replied, "Yes, I am." At first I was surprised, mostly with Date Lab since I'd put all over my profile that I was an Obama supporter! But he was very easy to talk to. I like the fact that we had different politics but we weren't argumentative about it.
Brandon: She's fairly liberal [and] almost sounded like she wanted to date Obama! She definitely is enamored by the guy. More than anything else, we talked about the campaigns -- the strategies used by each side, why Obama won and why McCain lost. She mentioned that the Republican Party spent quite a bit of time attacking and not enough time offering solutions. That's something we both agreed on.
Me'Shell: We spoke a lot about how the Republican Party needs to have more presence in minority communities because people associate it with a white party. [But] we never really talked about specific issues, especially social issues. I like to leave questions like "Do you believe in gay marriage?" for a time other than the first date.
Brandon: When it came time to order dessert, we ended up sharing chocolate cake. She said she was going to have to work off the calories, that she used to run three miles a day and needed to get back into it. I mentioned that I look in the mirror now and get disappointed because I'm not as muscular as I used to be when I was doing track [in college].
Me'Shell: He said he'd never actually seen [a Date Lab]. So after dessert, we stopped at the 7-Eleven nearby for the paper. He seemed completely calm about what he read.
Brandon: She looks at it every week and talked about how mean some of the [people] are. I told her several times that I had nothing mean to say about her.
Me'Shell: It's not necessarily what the people on the date say. It's the comments people write [on washingtonpost.com] that can be mean. Things like, "I don't know how she could find him attractive."
Brandon: After that, we walked over to the Metro. We hugged for a little bit when the train was pulling in. I gave her my cellphone number; she ended up texting me before I got home, telling me she got home safely. We texted back and forth before going to sleep.
Me'Shell: I'd rate the date a 4.999999 [out of 5]. It was really good. He's a cool person. We had our differences, but I kind of like people who are in a different crowd.
Brandon: I'd give it a 4.5. It was one of the best dates I've been on. The simple fact that we were able to discuss things without having it turn into a crossfire, I think bodes well.
Interviews by Stephen Lowman
UPDATE: Two days after the date, Brandon took Me'Shell to a Young Republicans meeting on Capitol Hill. Afterward, they went out for drinks and had their first kiss.