About the daters ...
Bradley: “The Male Brain” by Louann Brizendine. I love psychology and understanding how humans think
Elizabeth: “American Sphinx” by Joseph J. Ellis.
Bradley: I’m extremely driven — I’m an academic, an Air Force officer, I work out five times a week, all in addition to holding a full-time job.
Elizabeth: Being a second-generation Washingtonian, I’d say I’m very D.C. But not in the khakis-lawyer sort of way. More in the wish-I-had-been-cool-enough-in-high-school-to-see-Fugazi sort of way.
Bradley: I’m smart: I wrote a book. I’m not boring: I’ve been sky diving. And most importantly for the women out there: I listen.
Elizabeth: An old boyfriend once told me I was the ultimate dinner companion. How’s that?
Bradley: I travel, travel and then travel some more. I lived in Germany for three years. I go back to Europe two to three times a year. I also love the Redskins, have had season tickets, and will even go out of my way to watch them while traveling in Europe.
Elizabeth: I’ve got a pretty broad range of interests, but I guess art and history are paramount. Certainly travel as well. I love to cook and, more importantly, to eat, so food/diet oddities would not go over well. I’m a marathoner, so someone who respects and takes care of himself and his health would be important.
About the date ...
8 p.m., Belga Cafe, Capitol Hill
Bradley: [Date Lab] was actually on my list of things to do before I die. I wanted the feedback from the readers [and] my date, so I put it on my bucket list and said, Why not?
Elizabeth: I worked all day [at my] architectural practice, [then had] a meeting [at] a dusty construction site and then went to dinner. I was a few minutes late. I actually spaced out on the subway and went past my transfer spot, so I was a bit stressed. He was there [already] and at the table.
Bradley: I’m a big stats, scientific method kind of guy. I know the tone of the date is set by the handshake or the hug at the beginning. So [before the date] I posted on Facebook and polled people at work and asked, “Should I go with a handshake or a hug?” And the end result was 36 to 17 in favor of the handshake, because it was more conservative route to go. I’m a hug type of guy, but I went with the handshake.
Elizabeth: I didn’t find him super attractive. He was certainly dressed nicely and well-groomed; it wasn’t like he was a Neanderthal or something. You get that vibe off of someone or you don’t, and I didn’t get that vibe.
Bradley: They say people can make the decision whether or not they’re attracted to someone else in 150 milliseconds. I knew within that time frame that I wasn’t attracted to her, and I could tell she wasn’t attracted to me. She’s extremely beautiful — she’s a dead ringer for Rebecca de Mornay from “Risky Business.” She’s just not my type. She’s very poised, very professional. I would have preferred someone that was maybe more expressive. Like for example, she didn’t tell one joke the entire night. I tried my best [to make her laugh]. Like, she’s an architect, and I said, “Are you familiar with all the great architects — Gaud, Frank Lloyd Wright, George Costanza?” I guess she thought that was funny. She’s clearly heard all the architect jokes.
Elizabeth: A couple of things, I was just like, Huh, okay, let him go and see what he says. Maybe his cultural views didn’t necessarily jibe with some of my cultural views. I think he’s just used to speaking his mind and not tempering his views.
Bradley: [The waitress] came over to check a couple of times. We split [an] appetizer, [and] we both decided we wanted mussels.
Elizabeth: The other thing he did was take his phone out and search on Google for the exact parameters of the Wisconsin [labor union] protests, because I was saying I don’t think it’s legal to [compel people to join the union]. He said, “Well, I’m going to check it,” and he pulled out his phone. That to me was not real “first
date.” I’m used to more charm and repartee and get-to-know-you the first time you meet somebody.
Bradley: I’m like, we’ve got to Google this, man! I was actually trying to be as objective as possible, so I found a source on the left and a source on the right. It was nothing personal to me; I’m a very fact-oriented guy. I think she was kind of taken aback, because after that she ordered her own dessert. We had a divorce of the desserts after that.
Elizabeth: That’s funny — they weren’t related. He wanted the waffles, which wasn’t up my alley, so I said, “I think I’ll get the mousse.” The whole thing could have been a little more lighthearted. I think he was looking at it more as an opportunity to meet someone who [he] might connect with very seriously, [but] I like to banter. Whatever happened to banter? Why is banter so hard to find? I was not getting a lot of banter.
Bradley: I was interested in her as a person, but like I said, after that 150 milliseconds, it takes six or seven significant steps to turn that first impression. So I was open-minded; I was like, maybe something will change my mind here, but that just never occurred. I [said]: “I really enjoyed your company, and I’d like to see you again,” and she said, “We’ll see how it goes.” But we didn’t have each other’s phone numbers, there’s no way to get in touch again. So it was clearly a throwaway line.
Elizabeth: Then he did decide to walk me to the Metro, which was kind of funny; he didn’t ask if he could walk me to the Metro, he just said he was going to. Which was a noble thing and I didn’t say anything [then], but that’s another thing that I’d pass on to him: At 36, it’s nice to be asked as opposed to being told that something’s going to happen. But [it] was nice; he wanted to make sure I got there safely.
Bradley: From a romantic angle, I would give [this date] a 2 out of 5. But her as an overall person, I’d give a 4, 4.5. That 150 milliseconds, that’s what determines everything. Extremely accurate!
Elizabeth: It was a little awkward. You never feel nice when someone asks you for your contact information and you say you’d rather not. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, but I wasn’t really interested in staying in touch. I would say at best, [the date] was a 2. It just wasn’t a real charming date.
Update: No contact for these two since their date. We asked Bradley what sort of feedback he wanted from our readers. “I guess there is one question to pose,” he said. “Based on your impression from this article, would you want to meet Brad for a cup of coffee and conversation?” Share your opinion in the comments at washingtonpost.com/datelab.
Nominate a friend for Date Lab! Reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @datelab or on Facebook.