Erin Kara, 29, an astronomer/astrophysicist, and Tom Dziadkowiec, 30, a program analyst. (Daniele Seiss/Daniele Seiss)

Before they landed together in this magazine, Tom Dziadkowiec and Erin Kara were already on the same page in so many ways. Both have run marathons, both have considerable experience in Italy (he lived there for a year, she’s traveled there frequently), both have if-it-happens-it-happens attitudes about matching on a date. She has an “unhealthy obsession” with following political news; he’s a program analyst at the State Department. The last book he read is Neil deGrasse Tyson’s “Astrophysics for People in a Hurry”; she’s an astronomer/astrophysicist by trade.

Sounded great to us (so we matched them), and then even better as they discussed their date, which ran over three hours at I Ricchi near Dupont Circle. Both commented on their lack of awkwardness and ease of conversation. Peppering the comfortable flow of dialogue were synchronicities that would have seemed implausible in a romantic comedy, like when Tom talked about being born in Poland and speaking Polish fluently and Erin responded in Polish, greeting him and asking if he enjoys a potato pancake dish specific to the region. (She’s spent some time in Krakow.)

And yet, Erin considered this merely a “friendly date.” When I told her it sounded like it went really well, she said, “I know.” Her voice was so deflated I then wondered if she’d even be able to keep holding the phone to her ear.


Erin is, by Tom’s estimation, a catch — she’s a “super pretty girl” whose sweetness he detected immediately. Likewise, Tom’s easygoing nature was clear to Erin from the get-go — he showed no sign of irritation when she walked in late after being caught in traffic.

Erin described Tom as “amenable,” and indeed, my research confirms it. He described Erin as the “perfect person” to talk with about the universe. Erin’s relatively large family (she’s one of four children)? “Interesting.” Her background? “Fascinating.”

“I just kind of enjoyed listening to her speak about her life — it was easy,” said Tom, whose natural resting state, from what I could tell, is basking.

So what was the problem on Erin’s end? “He’s not my type,” she said. For one thing, “he said ‘sorry’ a lot,” she explained. “ ‘Thank you for coming out.’ He was very sweet but not as confident as I would normally go for.”

Tom, poor guy, was a victim of first-date jitters. “I don’t really get too nervous before a date usually starts, but I weirdly found myself getting more nervous as the night went on,” Tom reflected. And so, as they shared a bottle of wine and some apps (burrata and prosciutto), chomped their entrees (rigatoni for her, lamb chops for him), and finished with tiramisu, Tom found himself watching his words more carefully. “You want her to enjoy herself,
and the more you realize you get along with the person and the conversation is getting better
and better, you’re more cautious about messing it up,” he elaborated.

In other words, the date was going so well it started to … not go so well. Stakes were high, and he choked. “He didn’t really talk a lot about his job,” Erin said. “That was one of the things he was apologetic about. It was a bit of a turnoff to me that he was so impressed by my job that he was like, ‘Oh, well, my job is boring, and we don’t have to talk about it.’ ”

That said, Erin conceded that Tom was “a very nice dinner companion … for one night.” They bid farewell with a hug. “We exchanged phone numbers. … It didn’t feel romantic,” Erin said.

Tom, for the record, expressed interest in seeing Erin again. But, upbeat as a parade march, Tom’s philosophy ensures victory even if a particular date fails. “One thing I love about dating out here is you meet so many interesting people with so many interesting stories,” he said. “Even if the date doesn’t work out or you don’t like the girl, at a minimum you learn something really interesting about the person.”

That’s the spirit!

Rate the date

Erin: 3.5 [out of 5]. It wasn’t exciting, but it was an enjoyable night.

Tom: 5. I had a great time. I don’t think I can give it anything lower.

Update

Tom and Erin said they exchanged a few friendly texts but haven’t met up. Tom said, “She’s so busy right now I don’t think a second date is going to happen.”