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Will these two writers have a happy ending?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

7:30 P.M., LEBANESE TAVERNA, PENTAGON CITY

Kathy: I arrived a little early and brought a book with me to read. I wasn't nervous at all. I was looking forward to meeting someone new, but I didn't really have any expectations. Those are formed when I meet the person.

Frank: It was a restaurant very close to my apartment and I go there quite often, so it was in the heart of my comfort zone. I thought, I know this restaurant. I know this menu. It will be fine. I arrived on the stroke of 7:30, [and] they seated me at the table. [T]hey brought her to our table. She was really very attractive and very elegant. She looked just like the writer Peggy Noonan, actually.

Kathy: I don't judge a book by its cover, so I think it takes more than just a glance at somebody to know if you find somebody attractive or not. I tend to judge people by the content of their mind and spirit. He wore a suit and cuff links. I liked his glasses, and he was very well groomed. He brought me flowers, which was nice.

Frank: She was little subdued in the beginning. I tend to be gregarious, and when I am slightly nervous, I tend to be even more talkative. I know I can be kind of an overpowering personality sometimes, so I throttled it back a little at the beginning until she got more engaged, which she did fairly quickly.

Kathy: Number one, it's hard not to be immediately engaged with someone like Frank. Number two, just because one is a good listener does not mean that the other had to interpret that as being standoffish.

Frank: She talked about her background. She lived in Europe for a long time and married a European professor. This is not the kind of person that I normally meet in the Internet dating world. She is very refined, a very upper-class person. I felt I needed to sit up and pay attention.

Kathy: I ordered the vegetarian meze, and he ordered the beef steak. We talked about journalism. We talked about the state of the American population in terms of reading books and newspapers. We had a fair amount in common.

Frank: Within a half an hour, I thought, I want to see her again. I want to know more about her. I asked her what her long-term dating goals were. I am not looking for a casual kind of thing.

Kathy: I think it is a perfectly reasonable question to ask. I said I was interested in a long-term relationship. He asked me if that could possibly include marriage in the future, and I said yes. I think it would be nice to find someone with whom I could settle down and have a loving and exciting time. He told several funny stories and made several comments about society that were amusing.

Frank: I told a story about my book tour that really got her laughing. I wrote a book about the Columbia [space shuttle] accident, and some woman [at a book talk] asked me about the dead bodies of aliens supposedly in some freezer in Washington, D.C. [Kathy and I] had a really good banter back and forth. She laughed a lot. Had it not been for the fact that she had to drive back to Maryland, I would have asked her if she wanted to have a nightcap. But it was 10:30; it was late; so I thought the best thing would be to hold off until another day.

Kathy: He suggested we go to a museum in the future. I said that was fine. He gave me his card, [and] when we were outside we shook hands. I sent him an e-mail when I got home and thanked him for the lovely evening and the flowers.

Frank: I would say the date was a 4 [out of 5]. It's the best blind date I have been on. She was very attractive, very pleasant, and definitely has an IQ higher than mine. Why would you want to date somebody who is stupid? It's not going to do anything for you.

Kathy: Giving a number to a date is an unfortunate attempt to quantify something that can't be quantified. It takes time to get to know somebody. But I would give the date a 4 for Frank's funny stories. He is very engaging and animated.

Interviews by Stephen Lowman

UPDATE: Kathy and Frank called and e-mailed after their first meeting and shared a second date: a lecture followed by drinks at Old Ebbitt.

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