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Date Lab: He opted for the full-on cowboy look. Hmm. Risky.


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Sunday, October 5, 2008; Page W04

7:30 P.M., SOUTHSIDE 815, ALEXANDRIA

Johnny: I got to the restaurant probably 15 to 20 minutes early. I wore my regular motif: a cowboy shirt with pearl snaps, cowboy boots and a belt buckle. They sat me in a corner booth, and I was reading the menu and the hostess walked up with Laura. She's definitely the kind of person I'm normally attracted to: very pretty, very happy, has a really nice smile.

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Laura: I was in Ohio for the weekend visiting my family, but I left early to get back for the date. Johnny was really cute, dark-haired, a goatee. I noticed [the cowboy look] right away. That was awesome. I like cowboys. We started doing all the icebreakers.

Johnny: She'd never had fried green tomatoes, so we ordered [them] and a few beers. We talked about our jobs and our interests. I just got back from a nine-week motorcycle trip around the country and Canada, so we talked about my trip. We share a love of country music, but I wouldn't say we have a lot in common. That doesn't necessarily matter. Similar personalities and chemistry are good enough for me.

Laura: I think we have a similar outlook on life, which is, Just have as much fun as possible. And he's very close with his family. He even called himself a mama's boy. I liked that. We had a lot of fun with each other. [At one point,] he was telling me this story about some mythical creature called a chupacabra, a goat sucker. He said on his trip he thought he hit one on his motorcycle in the middle of the night. I was like, "What the heck are you talking about?" Between the jambalaya and the story, I was laughing so hard, I was crying.

Johnny: That can go either way on a first date, making a chick cry. I'm hoping it was a good cry.

Laura: I'm a skeptic when it comes to chemistry and all that cheesy stuff, but I thought we hit it off.

Johnny: I felt definite chemistry. We had a few after-dinner drinks, and I was going to get one called "Annabelle's something," and she goes, "Ooh, that sounds like a manly drink." We have similar characters with our sense of humor. She would take little jabs at me, and I'd take little jabs at her.

Laura: The bar started quieting down. I looked at my watch and was like, "It's 11 o'clock." I was shocked. Then we ended up staying for another 30 or 45 minutes. He asked me if I wanted to [go somewhere else], and I wanted to, but I needed to go home and unpack and get ready for the week.

Johnny: I walked her to her car, and we exchanged numbers and a hug. I told her I'd give her a call. I'd rate the date a 4.967 [out of 5]. She said she's going to give me a 3.16. I said, "That's a crappy score." We'll see what she says.

Laura: I told him, "Well, you made me cry." But in all sincerity, I'd give it a 4.8. I'd love to get together again and just see him in another context, get to know his personality. I think [there's potential].

Interviews by Christina Breda Antoniades

UPDATE: Johnny and Laura continued their banter via text immediately after the date. They plan to go out again.

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