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Date Lab: This 'zesty' pair inspires an impromptu party

Sunday, October 3, 2010; W06

6:30 p.m., ACKC Cocoa Bar Cafe, Logan Circle

Paul: The event [organized by the International Club of DC] was a wine, chocolate and ice cream tasting. I got there right on time. I didn't recognize anyone that obviously looked like another Washington Post person, so I went up and introduced myself to the owner, who by coincidence shares a mutual friend with myself. We were chitchatting.

Sabita: I guess I got there right at 6:30. I didn't know what I was supposed to be looking for, so I just walked straight up to the guy who looked like he was in charge, and he was like, "Okay, just have a seat." So I just sat down facing the door.

Paul: She was sitting alone. I went over and introduced myself. I think we just shook hands. She looked really nice. She was wearing a purple dress. She certainly caught my attention.

Sabita: He's tall; he's very cute. He definitely looks like the type of guy I would be attracted to, although I don't think I've ever gone out with a guy with facial hair before. But he was smiling, which is always good when you meet someone.

Paul: She was really quite bubbly. And she's a very good conversationalist. Within the first three minutes, we realized we had something very strange in common: We're neighbors. She lives in the building next to mine. It was pretty easy icebreaking.

Sabita: For me, sense of humor is so important, and he made me laugh right away. It was almost like we were immediately comfortable.

Paul: There was at least 20 minutes of us getting to know each other before the event actually kicked off. Then very quickly, the food started coming around. It's nice to have that kind of prop to come through every once in a while.

Sabita: We were talking about all the places he's lived and his philosophy on travel, which is very similar to my own: Basically, any chance you get to travel, you should take it. The fact that we could laugh at ourselves was a very good sign. But I wasn't sure I was getting a flirting vibe.

Paul: I think there was flirting. If you're not flirting on a date, I don't know what you're doing. There was some chemistry from early on. Everything was really good-natured. We had a lot in common, but I think what we had in common was less hobbies and more personality traits. She's a very zesty person, and I am, too.

Sabita: He's bright and interesting, and he seems down-to-earth. And he obviously loves [his work]. Anyone who is passionate about what they do, that's attractive.

Paul: We stuck around ACKC for a little while after [the tasting]. [The owner] took us on a little behind-the-scenes tour and then invited us to make some hot chocolate.

Sabita: Of course, we could only drink a little bit of it because, at this point, we were chocolated out. It was about 8:45, and we still had a whole camera worth of photos to take [for Date Lab]. [Paul] said, "We should take pictures that are totally unexpected, like at National Airport with us boarding a plane to Mexico." I loved that idea, but I was like, "National is so far." So we decided to go to Whole Foods and take pictures in the wine and chocolate section.

Paul: I remembered that I was obliged to give a report to the two friends who not only urged me to sign up but also helped me to fill out the questionnaire. When I brought this up, Sabita said, "Let's go over and see them." So the two of us marched over to my friend's building, which is only a few blocks away.

Sabita: Suddenly there were, like, six of Paul's friends, and we were all up on the roof drinking wine. They were so nice. I was thinking, I'd really love to hang out with these people again.

Paul: She was very comfortable jumping into a group. She jelled with them right away. I think it was about half past 10, and we'd told all the jokes we were going to tell, so I escorted her home.

Sabita: He walked me to my door and asked for my phone number, and I gave it to him. Then I said, "Well, we'll talk soon." He gave me a hug, and he went next door.

Paul: I am not a big dater. I find it all a little too formal. And this was a lot of fun, so compared to everything that I'm used to, this is a 5 [out of 5].

Sabita: I would [rate the date] a 4. I definitely had a good time and would be open to going out with him again.

-- Interviews by Christina Breda Antoniades

Update: A week later, the two met again for "a quiet glass of wine," Paul says. No word yet on whether a third date's in the works, but at the very least, "it's nice to be neighbors," he says.

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