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Date Lab: Can this date survive their low expectations?

Sunday, February 13, 2011; W06

7:30 p.m., Bistro La Bonne, U Street

Vivek: I showed up 20 minutes early. I was planning on having a beer and talking to the guys who work there. It's one of my favorite restaurants, and the staff knows me. I get there and run into the manager. I say, "You know why I'm here, right?" He shows me [the Date Lab] cameras and takes a picture of me.

Amelia: I have a broken wrist, so I had a friend drive me. I got there around 7. I sat at the bar until I heard Vivek come in. I thought he was very handsome. He was a good height; taller than I am in heels.

Vivek: I was psyching myself into what I'd do if I didn't find the girl attractive, [but] I didn't have to worry about that. She was really cute. She had nice skin, eyes and hair. I don't necessarily go for [blondes], but I liked it. And she was already drinking a beer. I like that. I always expect a girl to have a glass of wine. We shook hands, and then the manager took us to the table.

Amelia: We ordered beers and a few appetizers to share. We made light of the D.C. scene with the interview style that people fall into -- where did you go to school, what do you do. I will still sincerely ask people those questions, because it's a jumping-off point for a conversation.

Vivek: She did pretty quickly ask what do I do. It's such a cliche question. We did talk about it later. She said she does that to establish things in common, but she knows people do it to size each other up. She has good intentions with it. And it did work.

Amelia: The manager and the wait staff were around us all the time. They kept snapping pictures of us. They were funny. ... I think it helped the rapport, but I think it also interrupted potential flirting. Though I'm a very bad flirter on a first date. We tried to go back through what we said on the [Date Lab] questionnaire.

Vivek: She fit a lot of things that I said: cosmopolitan, likes being out of her comfort zone, traveled overseas, multilingual. She likes the finer things, like good wine, but she's not prissy enough that she won't have a beer or two.

Amelia: There was one word that both of us used [on the questionnaire], which he brought up: adaptable. He said he uses that to describe himself. I think that's why we both have done extensive traveling. He told me about his travels in Asia as a teacher; I told him about my time in France.

Vivek: The conversation just flowed. She struck a nice balance about being inquisitive but not too prying. She told me some really genuine things [about her family] that I wouldn't have expected. It made me feel comfortable.

Amelia: I tend to be relatively open. I don't hold people at arm's length. After dinner, we went downstairs to the bar to finish our wine. At one point, I went to the bathroom, and when I came back he had pulled his bar stool closer. Then he asked if I wanted to go to the Gibson for another drink. I would have on any other night, but I had a friend picking me up.

Vivek: I was disappointed, but I understood.

Amelia: I had low expectations, so I thought I would be done at 10. My friend was picking me up, and I felt bad for making her wait. Around 10:30, I said I really do have someone waiting for me around the corner and got ready to go. I felt bad because that could mean "she really has to go" or "she really wants to get out of this." He asked for my e-mail address at the very end, but he didn't write it down, so we'll see if he remembers it. I didn't ask for his info. I like to leave that up to the guy.

Vivek: She was buttoning up and struggling with the last button. I helped her and kissed her on the cheek. I do remember [her e-mail address]. She's definitely someone I want to go out with again.

Amelia: I'd give the date a 4 [out of 5], because there's always room for improvement. I'd definitely go out with him again.

Vivek: I'd give it a 5. It exceeded expectations for me. There wasn't heavy flirting; I felt more rapport than chemistry. I think that would have been different if it hadn't been a setup. And I think chemistry could develop. There's an instant spark one out of 40 times you meet someone. Waiting for lightning to strike might make you miss out on a lot of things.

-- Interviews by Kelly DiNardo

UPDATE: Amelia went to a party at Vivek's house, and they met again to watch the NFL playoffs with friends. Though they haven't yet had another one-on-one date, they're in "frequent" contact, Vivek says.

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