7:30 P.M., Banana Leaves, Dupont Circle
Lauren: A co-worker of mine had signed up for Date Lab last year, and [her date] worked out for a while -- they went out for a couple months. So I thought, why not? [The night of the date,] I had put jeans on, and then I had this crazy, awful thought that he'd be like, "I can't believe she wore jeans!" So I changed into black leggings, a black long sweater and black knee-high boots. I got to the restaurant before 7:30, and the hostess sat me at a table. Ben showed up a minute later. He was clean-cut, good-looking and dressed exactly like the guys that I hang out with or date, preppy but not Georgetown preppy.
Ben: I definitely thought that Lauren was attractive, but I wasn't immediately attracted to her. I normally go for blondes in pearls and polka dots -- that's my type. But let's say I wasn't upset.
Lauren: We talked about where we lived, what we did for a living, Date Lab. He brought up one, and I actually know the girl who was in it! He had a bit of a Southern accent, which I thought was cool.
Ben: I told her how I'd moved around a lot growing up and Virginia was the seventh different state I'd lived in, so she asked me who was it I rooted for for college football. I told her it was the University of Alabama, where I went to graduate school.
Lauren: We started talking about college football, which was really cool, 'cause I love football. I went to Penn State. He cracked a few jokes about Joe Paterno, because he's so old, and I was like, You can't talk about Joe Paterno because I will stop talking right now. Our sense of humor really clicked. I was probably laughing 75 percent of the time. But it reminded me of how I am with my platonic guy friends.
Ben: She asked me why we dress up for our football games in the South, and I explained it's our way of taking football seriously. You dress up for a job interview, and we take our football just as serious. As the evening went on, I was thinking that she's somebody I'd hang out with again. [But it'd be] more on the friendship side. It's hard to build attraction just out of the blue.
Lauren: I wasn't reaching my hand across the table to touch his or, you know, putting my hand on his arm. Still, I had walked into the date like, I go to work pretty early, and I like to get to bed early. And the next thing you know, it's 10:30. The time just went by.
Ben: Since we both had taken Metro, we walked to the station together. I got her phone number and told her I'd like to hang out with her again.
Lauren: There's gotta be at least some interest there, 'cause I feel like he wouldn't have asked to hang out again otherwise. Then again, I would have, just like as a friend. I'd give the date a 4.5 out of 5. For a 5, I'd want that romantic interest.
Ben: I'd give it a 4.157. It could have been a 4.16 if she wasn't such a big Penn State fan.
Interviews by Elizabeth Terry
UPDATE: The daters haven't been in touch, which Lauren attributes to a tangle of work, a cold and a work trip. Asked whether they will ever reconnect, Ben says, "Maybe. Uh, that's all I can offer."
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