Date Lab: He's so hot, she just might spill her drink
7:30 p.m., Marrakesh Palace, Dupont Circle
Nick: I wasn't nervous or scared before the date -- probably more curious than anything. I arrived about five minutes before she did. The place was mostly empty, so it had a very intimate feel to it. I was seated facing the wall, and I didn't really notice her until she was right there on top of me.
Ellen: I had been working out of Philadelphia. I woke up, had to check out of my hotel, run to work, run to the train, run to my house, change clothes and then get a cab to the restaurant. He beat me to it, of course, since I am never early for anything, ever. I saw Nick, and I was, like, Hello, handsome! If I saw him in the bar, I would probably trip and spill my drink. He clearly makes use of his gym membership. Admittedly, he is almost so fabulous you start to worry whether he is going to like me or the male waiter.
Nick: Physically, she was very attractive. She was above average height, which is great. I really don't like short people. She was wearing a dress, a coat and tights. She was very good at showing off her physical attributes without drawing attention to them. It was all fitted well, but it wasn't like, I'm a girl with tight clothes. Get excited.
Ellen: We ran through the basic spiel of questions: "How did you get suckered into this? Where are you from? What do you do? What do you do for fun?" We were both a bit nervous and holding back. I mean, you don't want to tell an off-color joke that might get [printed in] The Washington Post. We were very much on best behavior. The best remedy for good behavior is to order a couple glasses of wine.
Nick: [The restaurant] had a meal special, so we really didn't have any choice as regards to the food. I'd say within five minutes, we had appetizers and had ordered drinks. We were talking about how awkward this whole situation was. Given that kind of entry, we kind of segued into interesting dating stories we've had in D.C. Dating in D.C. is a very strange affair. We've both had experiences that are like: "Look at me! I'm a lobbyist, and I'm really special. You should be happy you are on a date with me." Ellen was just very non-presumptuous. She was very down-to-earth.
Ellen: A turning point in the conversation came when he made a sarcastic, perhaps politically incorrect comment. I think we were discussing politics, and he said something that was not complimentary about the right wing. He also spent a fair amount time living down South, and he said something like, "I'm tired of the racial slurs in the South. I am glad to be up North." He also said he liked not having to deal with the whole Southern belle thing anymore.
Nick: It's sort of irritating when you go out with somebody, and they are all into the traditional male/female roles. Ellen has opinions on things, and she is not afraid to talk about them. And that is great. We had a few racy jokes. She didn't shy away from them; she jumped into it.
Ellen: I told him I went to a Southern finishing school when I was 12. I won an award for posture, I'll let you know. I think it's fair to say there was chemistry with Nick. There was a lot of flirting -- double-entendres, eye contact, things like that. One of the major attracting factors was that he was pretty good at the sparring: I would say something, and he would expand on it.
Nick: We had champagne for dessert. We were at the restaurant maybe three hours. When you're talking with somebody and it's a very easy conversation, it's a much higher form of flirting than telling somebody they're cute. We didn't stare at each other and say, "I like your eyes" or any of that crap. It was kind of an airy, aimless conversation. I mean that in a good way. It was kind of like watching an episode of "Curb [Your Enthusiasm]" or "Seinfeld." If you had to tell what the episode was about, you'd probably have a hard time.
Ellen: We left the restaurant, and I walked him to the Metro. He got my number, and we had a classic goodnight kiss on the lips. In the terms of a first date, I'd definitely give this a 5 out of 5. I wouldn't mind seeing him again at all.
Nick: I give the date a 4.2. I don't believe in perfection. It was a great experience: good chemistry, great food, an intimate environment. [And] I liked her attitude, which was basically, "If you like me, cool. If not, I got a free meal." I am definitely interested in seeing her again. I'll give her a call.
Interviews by Stephen Lowman
Update: Nick and Ellen got together once for Afghan food and again for a poker night with her friends. They've also been texting, Facebooking and chatting on Gmail. "Welcome to the modern age of dating," Ellen says.