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Date Lab: ‘It was kind of like I knew him already’

Katie Hitchcock-Smith is 27 and a consultant at a professional services company. She’s looking for a “good boy with some edge.” Alex Da Silva is 31 and a program analyst for the federal government. His dream date is with a “journalist from Brussels who’s a total hipster.” (Daniele Seiss)
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This Date Lab could have gone very differently. If 31-year-old Alex Da Silva’s friends had their way, you would have been treated to a date suited for reality TV. One buddy in particular told him to do something “crazy” because this column is for entertainment.

“I had this whole argument with them about comparing it to ‘The Bachelor,’ ” Alex explained in his interview. “I was like: This is not ‘The Bachelor.’ ” It isn’t, though when Date Lab specimens have a dramatic go at it, well, it definitely makes this writer’s job easier. Instead, Alex’s date with Katie Hitchcock-Smith at Los Cuates in Georgetown was a cerebral affair. “We talked a lot about high-level intellectual stuff, which may be uncool but ... ,” Alex said, trailing off. If that’s uncool, at least they were uncool together.

“It was kind of like I knew him already,” recalled Katie, 27. “He seemed familiar, just his presence and his vibe.” She thought the conversation flowed right off the bat: “It was just really natural and nice.” Alex, however, said that he had to acknowledge the uniqueness of the Date Lab setup to ease into the situation. In the meantime, he nervously ate chips and guac.

Alex may have gotten past the inherent weirdness of the evening, but he returned to it repeatedly during his interview, discussing applying game theory to his rating and joking that he’d put the rating Katie gave in his Twitter profile. As a jazz bassist who studied music in undergrad and played on “Saturday Night Live” as an alternate for house band member James Genus, it tracks that Alex is fixated on form but also adept at improvisation.

Not only did Katie and Alex have plenty to talk about, they happened to find common ground in unexpected places. Alex, currently a program analyst for the federal government, is studying urban planning in grad school, which Katie learned about in college. “He was telling me about what makes a good city and whether we should focus on cars versus the walkability of things,” she said. “I found that to be really interesting.” Meanwhile, Katie, a consultant at a professional services company, formerly worked for Elizabeth Warren, whom Alex supported in the 2020 presidential primary.

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Over burritos (seafood for him and chicken for her) and one drink a piece (a Pacifico and strawberry daiquiri, respectively), they talked about their family experiences. Alex’s father is from Togo and his mom hails from Uganda. Katie grew up with two gay moms, which gave her a strong interest in social justice that she’s working toward applying to her career — she has her sights on law school with the goal of becoming a civil rights lawyer.

Via the discussions about their prospective careers, they touched on matters related to race. “I wouldn’t say it was an elephant in the room,” said Alex, who has dated interracially in the past (as has Katie).

They spent about two hours at the restaurant, though in this time they did not manage to burn through the $150 that The Washington Post allots for dinner. “We tried to figure out how to give the waitress the rest of the money,” said Alex. “I don’t think that worked, but it was cool to see that she was into giving a dab to the really awesome waitress that we had.”

They had a mutual attraction, and mutually expressed it in their postdate interviews: Alex said Katie was “definitely very attractive” while she said she “definitely thought he was handsome.” He admired her “power” attire (a black top and gray skirt), though it did leave him feeling underdressed. She liked his glasses. Alex described Katie as “intensely smart.” Katie said: “He’s very interesting and very smart. I think I’m definitely going to be in contact with him, whether or not it works out romantically.”

Wait, what? This sounds like it went great! How is it not working out already? “It takes me a while to really warm up to people in a romantic sense, so I’m going to leave it open,” explained Katie. “We’re going to see. But there were no red flags.”

After they left the restaurant, Alex walked Katie to her bus stop. He hugged her and asked for her number and that was that. During his interview a few days after the date, Alex said he was planning on calling Katie that day to set up another date.

Perhaps the slight disparity in enthusiasm stems from their goals going into the date: Alex is ready to find a partner, whereas Katie has a more “if it happens, it happens” approach. Still, both sounded hopeful about moving forward. “I thought it went really well,” said Alex. “If she says it didn’t, though, it didn’t.”

Rate the date

Alex: 4 [out of 5].

Katie: 4.


Katie and Alex didn’t meet up again.

Rich Juzwiak is a writer in New York.

More from Date Lab:

They had positive vibes from the get-go

She knew his cousin from Chicago

Date Lab 2.0: Four new writers dig deeper to find out how the dates really went

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