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Date Lab: Without us, their paths might never have crossed


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Sunday, January 25, 2009

7:30 P.M., ETETE, U STREET CORRIDOR

Grace: When I got to the restaurant, the whole staff was excited, which was pretty cute. They walked me upstairs and there was, like, two tables and not many people. I thought, This is going to be awkward. Then Patrick came in. He was wearing a black sweater and white shirt and looked more conservative than most people I date, a little preppy. But he had a nice smile and very nice green eyes.

Patrick: I went straight to the date from work; I'm the general manager of two restaurants in Cleveland Park. I was nervous because I don't generally date people I don't know; it's usually friends of friends. But Grace is very attractive. Her smile stood out, and she carried herself well: confident, not shy at all, lots of eye contact. We hit it off, just talking. We had a lot of things in common. We grew up near each other. Neither of us sleeps much -- maybe three to four hours a night. I work quite a bit, and she's the same way. And she also used to work in the restaurant business. It was my first time doing Ethiopian food, and since Etete was one of her favorite restaurants, I asked her to order for us.

Grace: [Restaurants] was definitely a point that we connected on. And I really liked that he was receptive to the whole Ethiopian food experience. Some people would be put off by eating with your hands or having to share a plate.

Patrick: She's a vegetarian and asked if I wanted meat.

Grace: It was very sweet that he didn't. We had a similar sense of humor. I'm pretty sarcastic, and some people can't handle it, but he definitely got it. When we ordered mixed drinks, I got a gin and tonic, and he got a vodka with soda. I always think of vodka as gin with no flavor, so I gave him a hard time about it.

Patrick: At work, I do wine tastings two or three times a week and I sample beer and liquors. But I'm not a big drinker at all. She kind of impressed me with her drink choice. Vodka takes on the flavor of whatever you mix it with. Gin is a bit more potent.

Grace: We finished dinner around 9:30 [and decided to] grab some drinks nearby, at Local 16. We sat at the bar and watched a little "SportsCenter," but we weren't fixated on the TV. We were talking to each other. There was some flirting and hand-holding. He had his arm around my waist at some point.

Patrick: We had our little sports talk about her love for college basketball and attending the University of Maryland. If you're a guy, it's always a plus to meet a woman who appreciates sports.

Grace: He kept saying it was still early. But last call sort of prompted us to leave. Walking to my car, there was a lot of physical contact. It was very sweet.

Patrick: We kissed quite a bit on the way there. Then we realized we hadn't taken many photos [with the Date Lab digital cameras], so she came up with the idea of laying on the hood and taking pictures.

Grace: After a few, we said goodbye and I drove home. The date was really awesome. I'd give it a 4.5 [out of 5]. It was refreshing to go out with someone that I normally wouldn't come in contact with.

Patrick: The date definitely exceeded my expectations. I'd rate it somewhere between 4 and 4.5. If we didn't have to work the next morning it would have been a 5.

Interviews by Mario Iván Oña

UPDATE: When the pair's first two attempts to meet up -- both in the week after their date -- didn't work out, Grace was pessimistic. But the two later got dinner and drinks in Baltimore. "Had a great time," reports Patrick.

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