And yet she is also virtually exasperated with dating apps (ex-app-sperated?). “I’ll have really great conversations on the app, but then as soon as I meet them, I know in my gut, ‘Okay, I don’t feel a super spark,’ ” she said.
So it was with some cautious optimism that Darcy approached Lincoln, a downtown restaurant — known for seasonal American fare — and the site of her date with Andy Hazelnis. At 5-foot-9, Andy was tall enough for the 5-foot-2 Darcy, to whom height matters. But she had another reservation. “I thought he was very cute, but I did think he looked very young,” said Darcy, who is 30, of Andy, who is 25.
She has recently dated guys in their mid-20s, so it’s not like she’s fundamentally opposed to it, but it hasn’t worked for her so far. Still, as much as it may have added to her general wariness, she resolved to not let it ruin her good time. For his part, Andy was unfazed. “I would not have assumed by looking at her that she’s five years older than me,” he said. “I thought we were about the same age.”
At their table, they eventually settled on apps of Brussels sprouts and deviled eggs, bigger plates of gnocchi for her and lamb shoulder for him, plus shrimp and grits for sharing. They split a bottle of red wine, but it was only at the end of the date that Darcy discovered that Andy, in her estimation, “isn’t a big wine person.”
“I thought it would be more of a convenience thing,” said the indefatigably practical Andy on agreeing to split the merlot. “Having the bottle on the table, you don’t need to have the wait staff coming back and forth to the table as much. You don’t have to keep a menu around.” He clarified that he does enjoy wine; he’s just much more inclined to drink beer.
By both accounts, the conversation was easygoing and engaging. Darcy was in particular fascinated by Andy’s job in hotel security and intelligence. And he likewise was interested in her job as a production coordinator for a major cable network.
They discussed family and upcoming trips, though not fitness, despite both taking it very seriously. Darcy does high-intensity interval training at 5:30 every morning, while Andy lifts five times a week, typically during his lunch break. They were matched in part because on their applications they emphasized the importance of exercise. We tried for a bond there, but it just didn’t … work out. They also said they both enjoyed banter. There wasn’t much of that either.
“The whole thing seemed very friendly to me,” said Darcy of the date’s vibe. “It didn’t seem super romantic. There wasn’t really any flirting or schmoozing. It was very straightforward.”
“I definitely was attracted to Darcy,” said Andy. “I don’t think anything on the date went poorly. Sometimes it’s there and sometimes it’s not.”
They talked at length about Date Lab. They shared nervousness and ultimately resolved on a “five-stars-for-five-stars” trade when it came time to rate their date — in case you need more proof of the romance void, they were acting more like they’d met on Uber than on Date Lab. And the very nature of their meeting ultimately proved to be a social obstacle.
“I think in the back of my mind, I was being cautious about what [I said] because anything you say could end up in the article,” said Darcy.
“I think that’s a very valid point,” said Andy upon hearing that Darcy had held back a bit due to the implicit surveillance. “There’s definitely been some Date Lab stories that have been less than ideal. We talked about that: public image, this, that and the other thing.”
For some people, it turns out, Date Lab has the properties of swiveling magnets: The same mechanism that brings them together can also cause them to repel in a single turn.
After about 2 1/2 hours, Darcy and Andy capped their night with some complimentary champagne and whoopee pies from Lincoln. They headed toward the door and realized it was pouring outside. Each ordered their respective Ubers (the only true matches of the evening), hugged and parted ways without exchanging contact information. Both chalked that up to the foul weather. “It’s not like we could stand outside and say goodbye,” said Darcy. Some storms just aren’t worth braving.
Rate the date
Darcy: 5 [out of 5].
No further contact.