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Date Lab: He got a ‘gold star’ for thoughtfulness

Jim Wilson is 62 and works in data services for a federal agency. He is looking for a “thoughtful, fit woman who seeks to make the world a better place.” Tatjana Meerman is 62 and a writer and editor for a federal agency. She is seeking someone who is “strong, quiet, mysterious and very handy around the house.” (Daniele Seiss/TWP)
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When you’re young and envisioning what kind of life you might create for yourself, for many people marriage and children are the endgame. That wasn’t what Tatjana Meerman, 62, dreamed of in her 20s. She didn’t think she needed to be married to live with or be committed to someone. “When I was a much younger person, I was a little more radical in that I did not believe in marriage,” she told me.

Tatjana never married or had children, but she has had several long-term relationships over the years, and is single now. She dabbled with online dating — not the apps, just websites — and has mostly found it frustrating. “I think there is a lot of lying,” she said.

These days, Tatjana feels ready to settle down. Maybe even get married. “I think I’m not as radical as I was, so I do appreciate the concept of marriage and I respect that, and definitely think I would just like to have that security,” she explained. That’s why she was willing to give Date Lab a try at matching her, preferably with someone kind. “We’ve got too much cruelty in the world,” she noted.

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Jim Wilson had a long marriage — 29 years — that ended several years ago. “We had two sons, but after the boys were launched and went to college, we were different … and we chose amicably to go our own ways,” the 62-year-old said. Divorce obviously wasn’t what Jim had planned for his life all those years ago as a young man looking toward the future, and dating again after such a long relationship was an adjustment, though not necessarily a bad one. “People in their late 50s, early 60s … it’s a time of great freedom,” he said.

Jim, who works for a federal agency, had a couple of post-divorce relationships that fizzled out and is ready to meet his forever person. Maybe even get remarried. “I’ve developed a sense of who I am, and am more focused. I am looking forward to settling down,” he explained.

On the evening of their date, Tatjana was happy to get out of pandemic clothes — you know, pajamas and soft pants and such. “I put on clothes I had not worn in a long time, I put on shoes I hadn’t worn in a year, and I put on a little bit of makeup,” she said. She drove to Kafe Leopold in Georgetown. “I knew it was an auspicious beginning because I was able to park right in front on M Street. I mean, that’s crazy!”

Jim put his pandemic pants aside, too, and once dressed, walked to the restaurant with hopes of meeting someone interesting and compelling who loved learning. He got there first and ordered a Diet Coke. When Tatjana met him, he shook her hand — which she found encouraging. Jim said he was pleased to see she was a lovely woman about his age with a nice smile.

Date Lab: The outcome wasn’t what she expected

They ordered drinks — a glass of wine for him, a German beer for her — and Jim gave her a Valentine’s Day card. (Okay, Jim, I see you with the grown man moves.) Tatjana liked it. “This is obviously somebody who is thinking beyond himself, so gold star for that,” she said. After a session with our photographer, Tatjana had a beet salad and Jim had roasted asparagus to start, then they both opted for fish entrees, salmon and branzino. No sharing, though.

While enjoying their food, they tested the waters to find areas of common interest and realized they might have crossed paths as teenagers. Jim grew up in the Chevy Chase neighborhood of D.C., and Tatjana spent a chunk of her youth just across the line in Maryland’s Chevy Chase. They also discovered another shared love: writing. Tatjana works as a writer and editor, and Jim has been working on a master’s in writing for about five years and is finishing his program in May.

“There was a level of these are small, little things of rapport and compatibility,” he said. Tatjana liked that he was “asking me questions as opposed to just talking about himself, which I have encountered quite a bit,” she said. “We could learn about each other, and it was quite genuine.”

Date Lab: The evening started with a handshake and ended with a hug

Two hours later the restaurant had filled up with noisy diners, so they decided it was a good ending point for the date. Jim walked her to the car, then asked how they would stay in touch and if he could give her a hug. He could. They exchanged phone numbers and texted a little later. Jim sent her a link about a virtual poetry reading, and she emailed him a story in the Guardian she had mentioned during the evening. They both hoped to see each other again for a walk in the park, something they discussed at dinner.

Rate the date

Tatjana: 5 [out of 5].

Jim: 4.


Even though they exchanged a few texts and emails, there was no second date.

Tanya Ballard Brown is executive editor for Government Executive and a comedian.

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