Interviews by Amanda McGrath

Jen Sastoque, 28, nurse and Brandon Rice, 32, computer programmer (Photo courtesy of daters)

He says he’s loyal and honest, and his dream girl is “beautiful, especially without makeup,” independent but also “girly.” Oh, and this isn’t his first Date Lab — we fixed him up in 2006. He said that date was a “good person,” but he didn’t want “to lead her on” and gave it a 3. Hoping for a better connection, we sent him to Restaurant Nora near Dupont Circle with Jen, who is “adventurous, kind and loyal” and is a certified Zumba instructor.

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Brandon: My dating life hasn’t changed much since my first Date Lab. Recently, I’ve decided to get more active in regard to dating. You’ve got to play to win, right?

Jen: He had a really nice smile and had a nice demeanor. Maybe not physically what I’d usually date. He’s so thin-framed, I just felt bigger than him. Tall guys, that’s what I’m usually attracted to.

Brandon: The first impression, I thought she was pretty. I was like, Okay, she looks nice. But I just wasn’t attracted to her. I guess someone who is more athletic would have caught my eye more.

Jen: He didn’t tell anyone he was going on Date Lab, which I thought was interesting, because I told everybody. I was like, “Ah, am I your dirty secret?” Just being silly, playful. He was like, “I guess so?”

Brandon: She’s in the Navy. I asked her about being a nurse, dealing with people in that setting on a daily basis.

Jen: He took an interest in my work, which was nice. Sometimes it intimidates guys that I’m in the military. I don’t know why. We talked about family; we have similar faiths.

Brandon: I don’t know that we had a lot in common. She thought I was Republican, and I was like, “Nope, sorry!” I’m a Democrat.

Jen: He’s pretty liberal; I’m pretty hard-core Republican, was president of College Republicans. But we didn’t get into any intense debate, just basics.

Brandon: I was laughing, enjoying the conversation. I hope she was, too. I saw her laughing. I loved her hair — naturally curly — so it looked very pretty to me.

Jen: He complimented me on how I looked and my hair, said my necklace was nice. He took the effort to notice; I appreciated that. He was very polite.

Brandon: It was great conversation. [However], a person can be beautiful by the world’s standards, but there’s not an attraction. Kind of have no control over that, unfortunately.

Jen: It seemed more platonic. I didn’t feel any physical attraction toward him. [And] he’s not as adventurous as I am.

Brandon: She is an extrovert, the social butterfly type. So I’m not sure, was she really into me or is that just her personality? But if she was interested, that would have made me feel worse, because I knew from the beginning I wasn’t into her on that level.

Jen: We shared dessert [and] stayed until the restaurant was closing. He ended up driving me home. We gave each other a hug and said good night. He didn’t ask for my number.

Brandon: I didn’t want to lead into expectations of anything. So I opted not to do that.


Jen: A 3.5. Which I feel like is above average. It was a great time, he’s a really nice guy, good conversation. [But] that chemistry wasn’t there.

Brandon: A 5. [No romance], but in terms of hanging out with someone, connecting, an evening out, it was great. I have no complaints. An attraction would’ve been icing on the cake.


There’s been no contact between the two since the date. Sorry, Brandon. Two strikes, and you’re out.

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