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Date Lab: They were so instantly comfortable that our photographer asked if they had met before

Erick Adams is 54 and an architectural draftsman. He is looking for someone “intelligent, stylish, attractive and outgoing.” Colleen Basil is 49 and works as a project manager. She is seeking “a man who has integrity, is spiritually grounded” and is “emotionally available.” (Daniele Seiss/The Washington Post)

Thank goodness I wore flats,” Colleen Basil, 49, said as she recounted the challenging decision of what to wear to her first-ever blind date. Opting for comfort proved the right choice, because the Washington Nationals were playing at home the evening of her in-person date at the Salt Line in Navy Yard. After circling endlessly to find reasonably priced parking, Colleen ended up a few blocks away and rushed to the restaurant hoping the humidity wouldn’t overtake her natural hairstyle.

Erick Adams, a 54-year-old architectural draftsman, had arrived 15 minutes early. His experience in the military had left him with the motto: “If you’re on time, you’re already late.” As Colleen approached the table at their scheduled meeting time, he was immediately taken with her beauty. “She was attractive in a natural, not glammed-up way,” he recalled to me. While taking the requisite Date Lab prom-style photos that we’ve all missed during our virtual dates, they both noted how instantly comfortable they were together. (Our photographer even asked if they’d met before.)

Once the date began, the conversation flowed as easily as the photo shoot. Erick, whose Date Lab application said he was happiest when listening to live music, asked if Colleen had caught any of the “Verzuz” battles, where two popular musicians’ libraries and vocal skills are pitted against each other in a live-streaming show. This led Erick and Colleen into a spirited debate about Mary J. Blige vs. Faith Evans (they agreed that Mary J. has more hits). Soon, they discussed who they think is the greatest singer of all time. Erick didn’t hesitate: Patti LaBelle. Colleen responded she’d seen LaBelle live at Wolf Trap. Erick remembered that he’d almost gone to that concert but changed his plans at the last minute.

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When Erick learned that Colleen was a third-generation Washingtonian he had to ask if she liked go-go music. She replied simply, “Of course.” Although he noted in his application that one of the least D.C. things about him was that he didn’t like go-go, Erick, who considers Oakland, Calif., to be his hometown, didn’t make an issue of it.

Colleen said she’s an avid reader, and though Erick admitted he doesn’t read much, she was interested in the last book he picked up, “Black Men Built the Capitol: Discovering African-American History in and Around Washington, D.C.” He told her that it is written by someone who goes to his church.

This dovetailed into a discussion about religious observance, with Erick sharing that he’s an usher at his church. He explained to me that he feels mature enough in his “walk [with God] to be in a relationship with someone of another faith.” On the date, Colleen told him that she had grown up Catholic but doesn’t practice anymore. She noted on her application that she prays regularly but doesn’t subscribe to a particular religion.

When Erick asked whether she had been married, Colleen said she had been engaged to the father of her 20-year-old son but they never wed. Erick views his divorce as ancient history, so he talked about how he and his ex-wife met, struggled with infertility and in vitro fertilization and ultimately ended their relationship many years ago. He’s open to dating people with kids, but he can’t see himself “chasing little children around.”

Colleen is no longer running after little ones and instead spends time with her son watching superhero movies, a taste in media that Erick has yet to acquire. They both, however, enjoy the theater; before the pandemic, Colleen would periodically take day trips to New York to see a show. They agreed that being single never stopped them from enjoying a great live performance.

Another solo activity that Erick loves is running. Colleen no longer runs, but she keeps active with other kinds of exercise. She used to walk to her job as a project manager about 35 minutes each way. She also gets her heart rate up by dancing, and is eager to get back into hand-dancing lessons (which some readers might know as D.C. Swing). Flirtatiously, he asked if she needed a partner.

As the date approached the three-hour mark, Colleen wondered what would happen next, so she just went for it and asked, “How does this work? Do we exchange numbers?” Erick thought it was cool that she took the lead and gladly gave her his number and last name. He walked her to her car, and they ended the evening with a hug and a plan to meet up again that week at the African American Civil War Memorial near U Street.

Rate the date

Colleen: 5 [out of 5].

Erick: 5.


They had a successful second date and are planning a third.

Damona Hoffman is a certified dating coach and host of the “Dates & Mates” podcast.

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