The night was wet and cold, and Jeff Savage, 38, really didn't feel like going out. He'd already let Date Lab dissect his dating life once when he went out in 2017 with Katy Hospital, a graphic designer and kettlebell trainer who he says "went to bed too early" for his taste. He now regrets some of his original Date Lab application responses, like describing his dream date as "a riot grrl frontwoman turned development economist that likes her burgers rare."
I wish I could say that I knew how Allie Kant, a 32-year-old tax manager, likes her burgers when I set up the two of them. What I did know was that she, like Jeff, enjoys running six days a week, loves dogs (she has a bichon poodle named Cosmo), and isn’t afraid to stay out a little late and have a few drinks.
Trying to get himself psyched for the date after only “five hours of sleep over the previous two nights,” Jeff popped in some eye drops and made his way to meet Allie at Siroc Restaurant near McPherson Square. Allie, who arrived first, “was definitely a little bit nervous.” She continued, “I had never been on a blind date before.” Jeff sensed that nervousness. “It was awkward at first,” he told me.
From my 13 years of dating coaching experience, I can tell you the best remedy for first-date jitters is always a good stiff drink, so they pulled up to the bar and asked for a cocktail list. No list, no problem. Allie simply asked for a Negroni, which was music to Jeff’s cocktail-enthusiast ears. They began sharing their favorite Negroni recipes. “There’s a version with whiskey,” Allie exclaimed. Jeff confidently replied, “I know, it’s called a Boulevardier.”
“Cocktails took us through actually being seated,” he said. And the conversation naturally turned to food. Early on, Jeff got his answer to the great burger debate: Allie also likes her burgers rare. “Why would you cook past that point?” he said to me later. However, they did not see eye to eye on the subject of brunch: He said it’s an overrated meal; she thinks it’s a good reason to get out of bed in the morning. Tonight, it presented an opportunity for Jeff to test Allie’s reaction to a friendly debate.
“She was definitely independent and assertive,” Jeff recalled, so “one of the first things I did was make fun of her.” Luckily, Allie can take a joke like a champ. “It indicates a level of playfulness,” Jeff said. He got a lot of comedic mileage out of the fact that she’s a tax lawyer. Jeff admitted, “I hadn’t yet brought up that I was an economist, which would have given her much more fodder.” His assessment of their witty exchange is that they’re both “insufferable nerds.” Allie agreed with the nerd part.
“I probably talked about work a little too much. I get very excited about money laundering,” Jeff explained to me. Allie didn’t feel like it was too much work talk: “I’m interested in what people do, so I kept asking questions.”
Soon, they moved on to sports. Jeff said: “We both like baseball, but I’m not a very good fan. I do follow the Nats, but I don’t have any branded merchandise.” Allie, a New York native, reminisced about going to Yankees games with her dad.
Allie said: “We were laughing the whole time.” The dinner went on for three hours before they realized it was only 10 p.m. In their book, the night was still young, so Allie said, “Let’s get a drink.” To be more specific: shots at Kingfisher, a local bar.
The conversation continued there, and so did the alcoholic beverages. If you’re keeping tabs on the bar tab, Jeff counted it all up for me: “1 Negroni, 2 glasses of wine, 2 beer-and-shot combos each.” Neither felt like they were drunk, yet the details about the end of the night got a little fuzzy.
Jeff said it “ended with a hug. I got her phone number, and by the time both of us got to our respective apartments, she had already texted to ask me out for Saturday.”
Allie recalled things a little differently: “When he got home he sent me a funny text about something we’d been talking about and said he wanted to go out this weekend.”
I didn’t press either of them too much about the discrepancy. It didn’t seem necessary. If you find a genuine connection, do the details really matter? Especially after 7.5 hours and five drinks?
Allie: 4.5 [out of 5]. “From the beginning I thought he was cute and seemed nice.”
Jeff: 5. “She seemed game to just have fun with the experience, and I appreciated that.”
They went out that Saturday and several times after that. But they are no longer dating.
Damona Hoffman is a dating coach and host of the “Dates & Mates” podcast.
This story has been updated.