Date Lab: Things get awkward when the bill shows up

Sunday, July 18, 2010; W06

7:30 p.m., Bistro Bis, Capitol Hill

Nioke: At home, I was nervous, but by the time I got to the restaurant, I actually felt really calm and just excited. I wasn't expecting Mr. Right. The only thing I expected was to have fun. I got there probably about 10 or 15 minutes early.

Antwoine: I was kind of cool and chill for a while, but then the day of, I started to get nervous. I arrived about 7:23.

Nioke: I don't think he's my normal type that I go for. I like really tall guys, [and] I'm usually attracted to men with locks. But he's a nice-looking guy. He was dressed very nicely. I don't rule anyone out right off the bat.

Antwoine: I'm not going to say it was love at first sight, but she's a cute girl -- very soft features; natural hair, which is something I like; nice complexion. We shook hands, [and] I sat down.

Nioke: The first thing I noticed was he had a book in his hand -- it was a book of essays about an album by Nas -- so the first thing I said to him was, "Why did you bring a book?" He said, "Oh, I didn't know how long you were going to be." I've never had anyone bring a book to a date before.

Antwoine: It was a little awkward at first. She may have been kind of tired or may not have been as interested in the outing, at least initially. From my perception of it, it wasn't the best body language -- elbows on the table, face in the hand. I may have been a little frazzled, as well, so maybe it was me, [too]. Those first 30 minutes were a little tough.

Nioke: I can be quiet initially, but I thought I was actually talking and making a good effort. I didn't feel awkward at all.

Antwoine: I think it got easier as the libations came. We both went to historically black colleges in the South, so we talked about that whole concept and how we wouldn't trade it for anything. We had a good conversation, but it wasn't like we were so engrossed where time just stood still.

Nioke: We talked about travel a lot and the places we've been and where we next want to go. We talked about music, a little bit about books, nothing terribly personal, but [it was an] interesting conversation. We did have a fair amount of things in common.

Antwoine: At some point, we discovered our connection, which is sports. We were talking about our favorite shows, and hers was "SportsCenter." She was giving me grief about being a Washington sports fan. We were definitely laughing. The conversation was pretty easy from that point.

Nioke: I really tried not to go into it like, Could this be someone I'm dating a month from now, or six months from now? There wasn't anything in particular, [but] I just didn't feel that spark or chemistry. I wouldn't say there was any flirting.

Antwoine: When the bill came, it was over [Date Lab's limit by] $15. I was going to take care of that, but then the manager came back and said The Washington Post credit card didn't run. Bistro Bis is a very nice restaurant, and we're pretty much the only people of color, and your card doesn't go through ... that could be my own personal issue, but you don't want that experience. But I think it actually brought us, I'm not gonna call it "closer," but it was a point of levity. She offered to pay half, and I was like, "No, I'll pay for it."

Nioke: It didn't bother me, other than the fact that he had to pay and he wasn't planning on doing so. I assumed someone wrote down one number wrong [and] that it would be sorted out. It was probably close to 10. I had actually parked about two or three blocks away, and he was parked across the street, so he offered to drive me to my car. I put out my hand to shake his hand, and he was putting out his arms to hug. It was kind of awkward.

Antwoine: I gave her a hug, kissed her on the cheek, nothing provocative. We talked about the company line of, "We need to get together again," but I definitely wanted to get her phone number, so I have that.

Nioke: I would [rate the date] a 3 [for romance] but [as] an enjoyable fun night, a 4 [out of 5]. I had a really nice time. He was an interesting guy.

Antwoine: Romantically I would have to say a 3.5 , but as a good time, I would say a 4. I definitely would be interested in communicating with her again.

Interviews by Christina Breda Antoniades

Update: The credit card problem turned out to be a technical glitch, and Bistro Bis quickly credited Antwoine's account. As for the daters, Antwoine plans to call. Nioke says: "I'd definitely go out with him again. I think it would probably be as friends." But she adds, "You never know."

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