Date Lab: They were both about 30 minutes late

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The evening was an appointment to redo. The Date Lab team had previously dispatched Alex Da Silva, 31, and Nika Bennett, 29, along with others. Although things looked promising at first, as we’ve seen too often in this column, connections quickly and inexplicably died. So we invited Alex and Nika to participate in a dating game for our annual Valentine’s Day event in February, which resulted in this new match.

Before the date, Nika had read Alex’s previous article on Date Lab and found it interesting, but she likes to keep her expectations low. “I really did the least amount of prep for this,” the Virginia native told me. “I worked late so I didn’t really have time to wash up. [and] straighten my hair, so I just left it in place. I didn’t put on any eyeliner and I didn’t put on any significant foundation. I didn’t wear lipstick, not even ChapStick.

Besides managing expectations, there was another reason why Nika didn’t try very hard: “The day before, I went out with someone else, and I had such a good time. moment that I thought there was really no way it could be this good.” She hoped that the spark of this date could turn into something more.

Alex was, well, he was a good player and was going on another date for us. “My friends and I joke that my new personality is a ‘fun guy’ and I wanted to keep up the momentum and say yes!” he told me. And unlike his first match, he had at least had a chance to hear Nika’s answers to our probing questions during the event’s dating game, which included “Which adjective best describes you?” and “What makes you a good catch?” Those really hard-hitting questions you expect from this column.

The two also had the chance to see each other briefly on Zoom, so it wasn’t completely blind. Considering all of these factors, the California transplant told me he was a little less nervous for this date. “The first time, I was strategizing with my friends,” he said. “This time I just walked in and [decided] be as normal as possible.

Both were late. Alex fed his dog peanut butter, put her in her crate and then hopped on a bus, which brought him to Apéro in Georgetown 30 minutes late. “She arrived maybe about 10 minutes after that and we took pictures and … it felt like it took eight minutes too long, which was already a bit of a sign,” he said.

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“She mentioned that she hadn’t tried on the date at all, which, hey, I thought that was a little weird, but I wouldn’t have thought that if she hadn’t didn’t mention that,” Alex told me, but “She was cute and seemed super sweet and funny, and I liked his sarcasm. No red flags by any means. Nika thought he was cute and funny and really smiling.

When the photo was done, they sat down and marveled at the menu; the restaurant specializes in champagne and caviar. It was classy, ​​said Nika, who entered with her order locked up. “I had already looked at the menu before arriving, because that’s the kind of person I am,” she told me. “I’m never, ever prepared for anything really except for the menu.”

She ordered a cider-based mixed drink; he had scotch, neat; and they shared a cheese plate. For entrees she had pasta with caviar and Alex had breaded salmon. Then the conversation started. “She really likes to strike up a conversation. I like to listen, so it’s okay for me, she jumped in, ”explained Alex. “She was full of interesting comments. Interesting and idiosyncratic comments.

They mostly talked about the war in Ukraine, whether Russian President Vladimir Putin was a rational actor, no-fly zones, game theory, NATO, military intervention – you know, the worn ground that two strangers are sure to cover on a first date. Nika had no qualms about letting Ukraine dominate the conversation. “I’m not a bit negative, I’m extremely negative is like my thing – everything sucks, Russia invaded Ukraine, we live in a global pandemic – there’s a lot to be negative and I am single.”

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Alex didn’t care though; foreign policy is his thing. “Ukraine is an easy topic to gnaw on for hours,” he told me. “We… just talked and talked and talked and talked. She had many opinions. And then two hours later, the date was over. Well, first dessert. She had chocolate mousse and Alex ordered bread pudding with ice cream. Then it was over.

They went out and each ordered an Uber. “I said, ‘Oh, let me take your number,’ and I texted her my name,” Nika said, adding that she was fairly certain she would never hear from him again. ‘Alex. “I think it was good to talk,” he said, “but I don’t think there will be anything after that date.”

Tanya Ballard Brown is the editor of Government Executive and a comedian.

A reminder from the Date Lab team: Our daters volunteer to participate in the column. While we appreciate a lively discussion evaluating our matchmaking skills, please follow our community guidelines and don’t comment on someone’s appearance or write a personal attack.

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