Lindsay Washington, a 31-year-old television producer, said she signed up for Date Lab because she occasionally notices the cute guys who show up in this space and figured it could be interesting. It didn’t hurt that her mom also reads the column, and seeing her daughter’s name and photo might give her a thrill.
Lindsay arrived first at Matchbox in the District’s Chinatown. She was surprised when she first laid eyes on her date, Tyler Hopkins. Lindsay typically dates white men. She was hesitant to admit this. “It’s not necessarily a preference,” she told me. “It’s just the way it has been.” And even though this was a blind date, she thought her match would be physically similar to the men with whom she usually goes out. So, she was surprised when she saw him — but pleasantly so: “He was definitely a looker.”
Tyler, a 29-year-old electrical engineer and actor, told me that he arrived at Matchbox feeling a little nervous but “super hopeful.” He lives a mostly fulfilling life, occupied by both his job in electrical engineering and his passion — acting in commercials, independent films and some theater in and around Washington. “I’m kind of set in where I am in life,” he said. “I’m kind of hitting that groove. The only thing really missing is a girlfriend.”
Though he’s interested in a long-term relationship, Tyler said he’s had trouble getting potential paramours to come to his neighborhood. He lives in Southwest Washington near a Metro stop. But some folks still don’t find it the easiest place to get to. “In order to get people here,” he explained, “they’ve got to figure out parking.”
Though optimistic, Tyler was wary of one potential snag in the date. “I didn’t want to sit there and talk politics,” he said. “I don’t really want to talk about Trump. I didn’t want to sit there complaining.” He seemed slightly defensive about his reticence to talk politics, particularly in Washington, where how you voted in the 2016 presidential election can be an instant dealbreaker. “I don’t have any fears about what’s going on with the government or with the president,” he told me. “I don’t even know what’s going on. I don’t pay attention.”
Tyler was, therefore, grateful that he and Lindsay were able to meet on common ground: the entertainment business. The date took place before the Oscars, and they discussed the nominated films and actors. Tyler was thrilled. “I love it,” he said. “I’m a nerd for it.” As a result, he recalled, there were “no real dull moments” in their conversation. “It kind of just flowed.”
“I could tell he had a really creative personality even though he was an engineer,” Lindsay told me. She liked that “both sides of his brain were working.” But “the acting — that was the only part where I felt a little nervous,” she admitted. Because she works in entertainment full time, Lindsay was hoping to talk about something else in her downtime — “something that I don’t have to deal with every day.” When it comes to finding a partner, Lindsay would prefer “someone who does something in a completely different spectrum.”
Tyler felt at ease most of the evening — but for reasons that he didn’t share with her at the time. From the moment he saw her, he told me later, he didn’t feel any pressure to impress her because he wasn’t attracted to her.
Sometime between the entrees and dessert, Tyler and Lindsay discovered the most remarkable thing they have in common: They basically live around the corner from each other in the same complex. “We share a concierge,” Lindsay told me. Tyler regularly uses the business center in Lindsay’s building to study scripts and — even more so — the gym. “I use it all the time,” he said. In fact, he’s positive that he’s seen Lindsay around.
When I spoke to Tyler and Lindsay, it had been weeks since their date. They had not been in contact other than on Facebook. I asked Tyler if he thought it would be awkward running into Lindsay in their neighborhood. “Right now: No,” he replied. “After the column comes out: Yes.”
Lindsay: 4.5 [out of 5]. “It could have been terrible.”
Tyler: 2.5. “She actually suggested that we both give each other 4.5s. I felt like it would be better to be honest.”
They traded a few messages over Facebook but didn’t go out again.