Date Lab: He wasn't expecting to meet someone quite like her

Sunday, February 28, 2010

7:30 p.m., A La Lucia, Alexandria

Mike: I got there a little early. It was packed, so I was waiting in the front. This girl walked in, and I had a gut feeling [it was her]. I said, "You must be Jessica." It was. She's very cute. She was in shape. She has really nice, black flowing hair. More than that, she had a great vibe. We started talking right away. I asked her if she'd been on a blind date before. Neither of us have been on a true blind date, but we've both been on setups.

Jessica: We both had friends who encouraged us to sign up. We both thought: Why not? It would be a fun adventure. We stood there for about five minutes while they were getting our table ready. I don't really have a type, but I thought he was attractive. He's tall with an inviting smile. When we sat down, we talked about what kinds of wine we like. We ordered a bottle of wine, and I told him about these wineries I went to in Argentina. From there, the conversation jumped all over the place -- in a good way.

Mike: We had a hard time ordering, because we were totally clicking in terms of conversation. We talked about the area, where we're from and our heritage. She's Italian, and I have some family that's part Italian. We both have homemade ravioli for Thanksgiving. We didn't talk about work too much. I always feel like it's the default, boring conversation. We talked about it briefly, but we had more interesting things to talk about.

Jessica: Talking about work was more a launching ground for other topics. He's an entrepreneur and has done a lot of real estate. It was neat to talk about development and D.C. I'm an urban planner, and I talked about how my work impacts how I travel and what I'm looking at when I do. After almost an hour, we thought we should look at the menu and make a decision.

Mike: We both ordered their fixed-price dinner and shared appetizers. We talked about how there were foods we didn't like as kids that we do now. And we talked about the food in the different places we've traveled, like Paris, London and Italy. It's interesting to hear about, but I'm not the guy who needs to know everywhere you've ever been. [An interest in the] arts is more important to me. Most people I've dated in the past have been artistic. I paint. I'm into poetry. I take photos. I think it's really neat when people are into that.

Jessica: We're both really into photography, and we talked about the types of photos we take. We didn't go too deep into any one topic, but we had a lot in common. I think we have pretty similar senses of humor. There were definitely a few fist bumps given over our shared love for "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia." There were moments when it felt more on the friend level. And there were points where it felt like a date. There was some flirting. At one point, we were talking about Date Lab again, and he said: "I just expected this to be a fun, random experience. I didn't expect to meet someone so cool."

Mike: When you meet someone, it takes a little while, but there was definitely some chemistry. We had really good eye contact. There was a lot of smiling. A lot of joking and laughing. We were very comfortable with each other. Around 10:30, we realized we were the only ones in the restaurant. It was Sunday, and there wasn't anywhere else to go, so I offered to drive her home. It was nice to get to talk to her longer.

Jessica: It was so nice of him. On the ride home, we talked about getting together again. We exchanged e-mails and phone numbers. When he dropped me off, he sort of went to shake my hand, and I just hugged him. I think a hug is nicer.

Mike: We were still talking, and I wasn't really thinking. Hugs are better. It was a nice hug. I wouldn't be too presumptuous to get a kiss on the first date, especially a blind date.

Jessica: I would give [the date] a 5 [out of 5]. There was a lot of good energy. There was a lot to talk about. He was attractive and interesting.

Mike: I would say [the date was] a 5. She's attractive, and I was not bored for one second. We had great conversation. [And] we already have another date planned.

Interviews by Kelly DiNardo

Update: Mike and Jessica traded e-mails and planned a second date -- which, as of press time, was scheduled for the same day as an approaching blizzard. Here's hoping the snow didn't stifle their spark.

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