Brianna Gianti, left, 37, an entrepreneur, and Rosie McGowan, 28, a special-education and ESOL teacher. (Daniele Seiss/For The Washington Post)

Brianna Gianti, 37, came to Date Lab with certain expectations. “I thought my date either was going to be as outgoing and talkative as me, or I’d get some total loony toon, which I thought would be a good story,” she explained. “You’ve gotta be nuts to go on a date with someone you’ve never known, to a restaurant you’ve never been to, and then have that written about and stuck in Google forever.”

And with that, Brianna would seem to have succinctly summed up the entire Date Lab outfit! But yesterday’s expectations fertilize today’s surprises: Brianna wasn’t counting on meeting a woman quite like Rosie McGowan, 28, whom she ultimately described as “just … kind of quiet.”

Brianna did assure me that Rosie was “nice and reserved and lovely.” And when I talked to Rosie, I found her extremely thoughtful: She went out of her way, for instance, to ask me if my job here gets monotonous. (It doesn’t, for the record.)

Both women described their date at Carmine’s, an Italian family-style micro-chain restaurant downtown, as “pleasant.” Both had complimentary things to say about each other’s appearance — with some caveats. “I have to talk to somebody a little while before I can tell” if I’m attracted to her, Rosie said. Meanwhile, Brianna described Rosie as having “all the features of a girl I would be attracted to: dark hair, light eyes, more feminine.” Buuuut: “I wasn’t like, ‘Oh my God, this is Natalie Portman walking in the room.’ ”

In recounting their dinner (for which they collaboratively settled on half a sheet of lasagna and chicken parmigiana), both agreed that Brianna did the conversational heavy-lifting, no mere feat considering they spent 2½ hours together with no uncomfortable silences. “I wouldn’t say I’m socially awkward, but sometimes I just don’t have something to say,” explained Rosie. “Especially when I first meet somebody, I really like to listen.”

So what we have here is an ostensible introvert and extrovert. A listener and a talker. A special-ed teacher (Rosie) and a woman who — in her foray into entrepreneurship — just launched a bawdy board/drinking game called Butt Wasted (Brianna). Unfortunately, while they might seem like yin and yang, their combination did not a taijitu make.

Brianna said she felt truly engaged only when they talked about their love of cooking and when they shared coming-out stories. After being closeted youths, they both came out as gay relatively later in life — Brianna at “23 or 24” and Rosie at 25. “It’s something we can share that straight people don’t have, really, for the most part,” said Rosie on her love of exchanging coming-out stories. And though they know some of the same people, Brianna was relieved to be sitting across from a stranger. “Our community is so small that I was really worried they were going to set me up with someone I’d either already dated or someone that a friend had already dated,” she explained.

The night ended with Brianna doing “the most awkward thing I’ve probably ever done on any date”: As Rosie boarded her Lyft home, Brianna handed over her business card so they could keep in touch.

It “was the most f---ing D.C. thing I could ever possibly do,” she said. “I probably wouldn’t email me even if I really liked me based off that last impression.”

But Rosie did, some 24 hours later, to tell Brianna that she enjoyed the date but that she didn’t feel much of a romantic connection. “I don’t know if it’s harsh or not,” said Rosie. “But I would rather have someone tell me that.”

When I talked to Brianna, she hadn’t checked her email, but the feeling was nonetheless mutual. “I’m seeing other people right now,” she said, having submitted her Date Lab application in October. “She was going to have to be pretty wow for me to be like, ‘I want to add another person to the list.’ ”

Rate the date

Brianna: 3 [out of 5]. It was a lovely, pleasant conversation with a very nice person.

Rosie: 4. She’s good company, but I can’t give it 5 because there wasn’t a connection.


Brianna and Rosie exchanged numbers via email, met up at a queer women’s art showcase event and are planning to attend a concert in June ... as friends.