Date Lab: The Post Hunt Date
In mid-May, a throng of 10,000 hit the 2009 Post Hunt, a sprawling game of brainteasing puzzles played throughout downtown Washington. Amid the masses: two intrepid Date Labbers.
11:30 A.M., FREEDOM PLAZA, DOWNTOWN
Kelly: [This] was something new for me, so I was kind of excited. I was very nervous, just because I don't normally go on blind dates. I thought it would be an interesting way to meet someone -- much different and possibly better than the typical bar or lounge encounter. I looked at the rules and last year's coverage beforehand.
Rhet: I was excited. I had not done the Hunt before, [but] I looked at the [information] online. I thought it would be fun to meet someone that would really enjoy that same nerdy thing. I got to Freedom Plaza at about 11:30. It was about 10 minutes [before] Kelly showed up.
Kelly: He's taller and has nice tan skin. I like guys with darker hair, and he had these great hazel eyes. He looks a little like Ben Affleck.
Rhet: She looked very much like girls that I would normally date: very attractive, cute, blond hair. We started talking: the basics of who you are, what you do, where you're from.
Kelly: We sat there for a couple minutes flipping through the Magazine. Both of us were clueless, which is good because I worried he was going to know everything and I was going to be the idiot who didn't know anything. We finally just started following some people.
Rhet: The first [puzzle featured] a statue. We started working on what it could possibly mean. She seemed somewhat into it, but they weren't easy clues.
Kelly: We could hear other people saying, "We don't get it!" I think we both looked at each other at one point and said, "Okay, let's move on."
Rhet: The next was five monuments: eyes, an hourglass, a vacuum cleaner, a ghost and a cannon. She had a couple of friends that were doing the Hunt as well, so we met up with them. You could see the people [around us] figuring it out and could feel the excitement of it. We got that one, then we went to the next.
Kelly: The third spot was in this little plaza [with] a fountain. We both looked around, and we had the same reaction: "Wow, we have never been here before." It was a great way to find little treasures in the city.
Rhet: We probably spent more time getting to know each other than [doing] the puzzles. Her sister had gone to West Point, and I had considered going to West Point, so we had that going on. We discussed athletics quite a bit.
Kelly: We were both excited to talk about [sports]. I told him about my [high school] basketball days. He got a full scholarship for basketball. There were certain connections that we had. It was kind of awkward at times because I didn't quite know what to do with this [Post Hunt]. It was a little too challenging for a Sunday.
Rhet: She was like, "Let's go down to the [National Portrait Gallery]," so we walked down. I would have been more interested in doing more to solve the puzzles. But I wasn't annoyed. I just kind of went along with her.
Kelly: Maybe he was trying to give me my way, as a gentleman. I felt bad because I was leading him most of the time. He's just so easygoing and laid-back. He doesn't volunteer information as freely as I do. I may have flirted a little. He put his arm right around [me] during the pictures, like it was natural. But I don't think he quite flirted with me.
Rhet: We headed back to [Freedom Plaza] at about 2:45 and sat and talked some more. She's a fun person and has a good personality; she was talkative, had good stories, was up for taking on something different. [But] she's not really the person that I would have a serious relationship with. She's more of a city person. She lives in Chinatown, and I'm up in Laurel. She's more into the party lifestyle of going out at night. It's not a total turnoff, but it's not my style. I would rather hang out and do nothing or do puzzles, board games, those kind of things.
Kelly: I think [our differences] could be worked out overall, but I do think living in different areas may make it challenging. I'm kind of on the fence [about whether] I'd go out with him again.
Rhet: [I'd rate the date] a 3 [out of 5]. Had the date just been a dinner, it would have been a better date with her; she would have been more comfortable. [But] even during a dinner, I would have realized that our personalities weren't going to match.
Kelly: [I'd rate the date] a 4. He's very down to earth. He had very good manners. I like that. I think it would be neat to get him out of his shell a little more.
Interviews by Christina Breda Antoniades and Stephen Lowman
Update: After the Hunt, Rhet and Kelly chatted over dinner at Chef Geoff's. Rhet says he'd be up for a friendship, "but not for a regular date."
Looking for love -- and a few lessons in the kitchen? Go to washingtonpost.com/datelab.