Jackie Garcia, 26, a cybersecurity consultant, and Bill Eger, 39, a municipal energy manager. (Daniele Seiss/For The Washington Post)

Jackie Garcia claims to know the value of a great match. The 26-year-old cybersecurity consultant told me that, after only a couple of years of using Tinder, she’s been on a lot of great first dates and kind of has swiping right down to a science. She’s even been helping a male friend — whom she met on Tinder — manage his Tinder profile with some success. She told me with pride: “I’m kind of the Tinder/Bumble queen.”

I asked the queen what she was seeking in her own swipe-life — what qualities might take her beyond that first date. She told me she was looking for someone who makes her want to get off the dating apps entirely, someone “educated, open-minded, thirsty for knowledge,” someone with values who is “healthy, family-oriented, kind and funny.” And “physically I don’t like blonds,” she said. She described her type as dark hair, dark eyes, olive-toned skin. “Aladdin in the flesh,” she said.


Fortunately for Jackie, Bill Eger is not blond. He’s a 39-year-old self-proclaimed “manly man” and triathlete who works in sustainability and was 15 minutes early to the date. When Jackie entered the Partisan restaurant downtown, she was impressed with what she saw: “objectively handsome, well-groomed, well-dressed.” She especially liked the beard.

The feeling was mutual — well, not the beard part, but yunno. “She’s very attractive,” Bill told me when we talked on the phone, describing her “long, flowing flower dress,” “black, curly hair that fell a little above her shoulders” and the “confident manner” with which she walked toward their table. “I took note of her solid presence,” he said, “for lack of a better word.”

While waiting for the Date Lab photographer, they came up with some ground rules. “We didn’t really want to talk about work,” Bill said. “Didn’t want to do the whole ‘D.C. thing.’ ” “I don’t know that I ever found out what he did for a living,” Jackie admitted to me later.

When it was time for photos, Bill and Jackie were comfortable enough to goof around for the camera. “We did silly poses,” Jackie said. “Back-to-back with the fingers in the gun position. I knew it was going to be a good date.”

They ordered: a pork chop and bourbon for Bill, a triple-decker burger and a cocktail called Drop the Bomb for her. They talked about Jackie’s side hustle as a dancer and cheerleader for professional sports teams. She’d recently gone through rigorous physical effort to try out for the Wizards and Redskins cheer teams. “Within the cheer world, I’m a bit bigger,” she told me. “I lost about 20 pounds in the last four years.” Bill could relate, having just completed his first ultramarathon, a 35-mile run over trails through George Washington National Forest. He says he reached a point in his life where he’s all about pushing past his boundaries and fears. “If you can run 13 miles, you can probably run 35 … or 50,” he said. “It’s all mental.”

Jackie and Bill seemed to really respect how much the other was willing to invest in their passions outside work. On top of that, they both struck me as excellent listeners. I was surprised by the amount of detail each remembered about the other.

They sat and talked for more than two hours at the restaurant and then meandered through Chinatown to the Yard House for a final drink. Both later said that the evening was without a lull or dull moment.

Jackie has three important rules for dating: “Have zero expectations. Don’t take things too seriously. And the guy should always ask for the phone number.” Having heard the rules, Bill dutifully played along. They hugged, took separate cars home and texted a little bit the next day and a week or so later.

Most likely, however, they’re not going on another date, they each told me separately. (I know! That caught me by surprise, too.) Both felt the 13-year age difference was noticeable. Bill is far more ready for a commitment and a family than he surmised Jackie may be. Jackie agreed, telling me she still needed to “level up” to his maturity. Never one to waste a good match, however, she said, “He falls into the category of ‘You were great. I’d love to recommend you to a friend.’ ”

Rate the date

Jackie: 5 [out of 5]. “Whoever matched us up did a very good
job.”

Bill: 4.5. “She’s a phenomenal woman doing some awesome stuff — challenging herself.”

Update

They have texted back and forth, but no second date.