Date Lab: He has a startling confession to make

Sunday, December 12, 2010; W08

7:30 p.m., The Oval Room, Downtown

Phillip: I know from reading previous Date Labs that people are very anxious before the date. They're usually younger people. When you are 67 years old and have been around the block a few times, you're really not anxious. I was feeling great about it.

Lauren: I was somewhat nervous as I was driving into the city. I was about five minutes early. As I was walking up to the door of the restaurant, Phil was walking up to the door of the restaurant. Of course, I didn't know it was him. He held the door, and we walked in. The host said, "Is this a table for two?" and I said, "Actually, I'm meeting someone." Phil put out his hand and said, "Hi, I'm Phil." I said, "I'm Lauren."

Phillip: She is an attractive woman. And when we sat down and started talking, she came across as highly intelligent. She wasn't all about herself, either. She wanted to know about me, too.

Lauren: He's tall. He has a beard. He is attractive. We sat down and just started talking about all these different things. We never stopped talking the whole night. It felt like we'd known each other for a long time. Early on he said something like, "Well, I know I'm going to see you again." It was nice, because after that I didn't have to worry, like, Oh, I wonder what he is thinking about me? We have a tremendous amount in common. I was kind of astonished at all these little links.

Phillip: If you could have listened to our conversation, you would have heard me going, "Blah blah blah," and then she'd say, "You're kidding! I have, too!" Then she'd say, "I do such and such," and I'd go, "You're kidding! I do, too!" I thought we were twins separated [at] birth or something.

Lauren: He's written a play, and he's written an opera. He became a really rather excellent artist who does portrait paintings. I was an art history major in college and come from a family with a number of artists. He's active in his church; I'm active in my church.

Phillip: We talked about all the places we have traveled. At one point, I said, "I have a confession to make. What is the worst thing you think I could confess?" She paused and said, "That you smoke." And I said, "No. It's that I drink Diet Dr Pepper for breakfast."

Lauren: I was expecting something awful that would be a total deal-breaker. I think anyone can drink whatever they want for breakfast! There was just a nice chemistry throughout the night. When we finally ordered food, I had the sea bass, and he had a chicken dish. We were probably there until 9:30 or 10.

Phillip: There definitely was a friendship between us. The evening went from the first hour to the final hour so quickly. I mentioned that we were only a block away from the Hay-Adams and that they have a delightful bar in the basement. She said, "Great!"

Lauren: It felt like the logical thing to do, to get out of the restaurant and talk a little more in a different atmosphere. We both had a glass of wine. We just kept talking for probably another hour. It got to be 11 o'clock, and we were both a little tired. He walked me to my car. I said, "Well, if we're going to get together again, I better give you my card." He didn't have a card on him, so he wrote his number down on a piece of paper.

Phillip: We gave each other a hug. She lives way out in Fairfax, and I live in Spring Valley, near American University. I told her that next time she comes into town we should arrange a dinner.

Lauren: I think [the date] was pretty close to a 5 [out of 5]. I'm very grateful we got fixed up. I have a son who is 21, and he had said, "Well, you're not going to hear from him for several days. That's the way we guys are." Well, I did! He e-mailed me the first thing [the next] morning.

Phillip: It was an absolute 5. She is charming, she really and truly is. I e-mailed her, because I wanted her to know that I had a great time. She wrote me back that she did, too.

Interviews by Stephen Lowman

Update: Finding a time for a second date proved tricky; Lauren has been traveling, and Phillip has had houseguests. But the two have talked frequently on the phone and made plans to have dinner at his place a few weeks later. Phillip told us he's planning to make a mushroom quiche: "They say real guys don't eat quiche, but this guy does, and he is real!"

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