Date Lab: Eating meat, talking 9-11 and other date downers
7:30 p.m., The Heights, Columbia Heights
Heather: I got there a little early, and I had a glass of wine while I was waiting at the bar. The waiter brought Toby over. We shook hands and said hello. I thought he was a nice-looking guy. He had a nice smile, nice eyes. He's tall.
Toby: She's a smart-looking woman. She's attractive, but she's not really my type. She's fairly tall. I'm about 6-5, and for whatever reason I tend to like women whom I tower over.
Heather: We went over to the table and started talking. It was casual, feeling each other out with general background things. We ordered a bottle of wine and some appetizers.
Toby: She ordered calamari, and I ordered some mussels. She said she was a pescatarian. She eats vegetables and fish and seafood, but not things that run around on land. I like to cook, and I have a hard time imagining making my grandmother's baked beans if I couldn't season it with ham hock or something like that. It's not a deal-breaker, but it's not ideal.
Heather: He's a full-on carnivore, and I just recently stopped being a vegetarian. As long as someone's not going to make me eat bacon, I'm fine with that. To each their own.
Toby: We talked about travel. We've both been to Paris. She said she was disappointed, because a lot of the museums had been shut down when she was there because of a strike. I have been to the Louvre, and I thought I was in trouble when she asked me about it. I couldn't remember anything specific. It's been a while, and it's one of those encyclopedic museums.
Heather: I was surprised there wasn't at least one thing that he remembered or could talk about. I like artwork, creating artwork, going to museums, talking to artists. It's pretty important to me. It was kind of disappointing that he didn't remember anything. I was hoping to hear some really fun or interesting accounts, or a favorite painting or sculpture. We ordered entrees and kept on talking.
Toby: She asked what I had gone to graduate school for. I told her I went for photojournalism. She thought that was kind of cool.
Heather: I haven't met a lot of people who do art for a living. I said I was interested in photography and had sold photos and artwork. He was telling me in vague, general terms what a photojournalist is. He was saying he gets to travel and to meet new people. All of that is kind of obvious if you're a journalist. I said, "I know what it is; tell me a story about it."
Toby: I told her about being in New York on September 11. I was staying uptown. When I found out what was happening, I grabbed my stuff and was trying to get downtown. Streets were closed. I got a cab [to] about 50th Street and walked from there to shoot what was happening. I hope it wasn't a terrible bummer as far as the date goes.
Heather: It wasn't a story I was expecting. I was just surprised by the gravity of the conversation for a while [but] not put off by it. We were both like, okay, enough of that. We moved on and kept talking. Sometimes it felt like we were out just as friends. Sometimes there was a glance or a joke that felt like it could be more. And the conversation made him a nicer-looking guy. A person's personality can complement or take away from their looks. I think it complemented him.
Toby: I think the chemistry to me felt more like friendship, though it warmed up the more we talked. It was getting late, and we had finished our meal. The restaurant was starting to shut down.
Heather: After we had the bill straightened out, he handed me his [business] card. I gave him mine. It seemed really stiff. I'm not sure what that means. Normally, if things go well, you talk about the potential for hanging out again or ask for the other person's info. Even though we exchanged info, there was no conversation about getting together.
Toby: I walked her to the Metro, gave her a hug and said goodnight. She was certainly an interesting person to talk to, but I think she'd be more of a friend. We had lots to talk about, but it was short on the chemistry. I would give the date a 3 [out of 5].
Heather: I'd give the date a 3. I could see myself hanging out with him again, but I think more as friends. He's definitely a nice person.
-- Interviews by Kelly DiNardo
UPDATE: A second meeting is unlikely -- they haven't been in touch sincethe date.