Context: On June 28, I received an email from the Washington Post informing me that I had been selected for their Washington Post Magazine feature, Date Lab. One week later, I met up with my blind date at Iron Gate in Dupont at 6:30 PM.
Growing up as a young intellectual (lol maybe) in the ‘burbs of DC, I became very well acquainted with the Washington Post.
Every morning beginning in high school, I would wake up at the butt crack of dawn, chug some coffee (black as my soul, even at this delicate age), force down some gummy oatmeal my dad had left sitting on the stove, and read the WaPo in this order: Style, Metro, Food (Wednesdays)/Local Living (Thursdays), and then if I was trying to convince a guy to love me I would brush up on the sports section so I’d know if the Caps had won or if the Redskins were still the worst (newsflash: always) or some shit. Then I’d gob on a thick layer of eyeliner and get on the bus with my headphones on full blast so no one would talk to me.* A real social butterfly, I was.
*This lasted approx 3 months before I joined the cheerleading squad and became the kind of person who LOVES PEOPLE OMG and now here we are, I’ve been writing a dating blog for 2 years and am still hopelessly alone.
The weekends changed the game. Every Saturday morning, we would receive the Sunday post (does this seem wrong to anyone else) so NOT ONLY did I get an extra large in-color comics section and a fuck ton of coupons for things I didn’t need, I ALSO got to read the Washington Post Magazine! And, within its depths, Date Lab stories. They would set up strangers on blind dates, send them to (what I now know are) nice restaurants in DC, and interview them after the fact. This was gold. I loved reading about bad dates because I was such a relationship person in high school it was actually sickening. Come to think of it, I would have loved my own blog. Is time travel real?
A few months back, I was bored and hungover one morning so I decided to apply for Date Lab on a whim. Now, some of the issues I had read were like “I applied two years ago and I never thought I would be chosen until the day I got the email!” so I figured I would literally never hear back from them. I submitted my application, texted like 2 people to let them know I had applied (my typical text about seeing a cute guy at the gym goes to at least 7 people, for context) and went on my merry way.
FLASH FORWARD to June 28. I was laying in my bed, drunk from a work happy hour at Ser and a pitcher of sangrita swirl at Lauriol Plaza, when I noticed a new email in my inbox. Subject: “Date Lab”. Naturally, I FLIPPED THE FUCK OUT and added it to my Snapchat story and several group texts. Thank you, aforementioned high school cheerleading team, for giving me the power to make this many friends.
My date was scheduled for a week later. It would be at 6:30 PM at Iron Gate in Dupont, a $$$ Mediterranean small plates restaurant. My date’s name was D. That’s all I knew.
Actually, scratch that, I also knew that having a date the day after 4th of July would be bad news bears because I would definitely black out and make bad choices the day prior and our conversation would probably go something like this:
Date – So how was your 4th of July weekend?
J – It was great! I was blackout the whole fucking time and you see these bruises? They’re from falling down the stairs at Masa 14! I slept with my ex-boyfriend and now I regret it! I’m never allowed at Cantina Marina ever again!!
D – oh…
J – How was yours?!?!?!
I’m really popular with men and also with therapists.
Since I was excited and also because I’m borderline psychotic, I told all my friends that they should come watch my date. I knew that my friends N and KA had made a reservation, so they at least would be in the same restaurant. Nothing could have prepared me for what happened next*.
*Why do I sound like a clickbait article?
My friends were already at the restaurant, and had filled the wait staff in on the situation. They instructed me to sit in the chair, and my date would sit on the bench so they could see him and I wouldn’t be distracted by their stares. What they didn’t tell me is they were bringing the guy I had hooked up with the night before (and day before) (on a bathroom floor) (judge me). They were also seating him closest to me. So for the entirety of this date there was a guy who had been in my bed less than 12 hours before sitting 10 feet away from me. Life was grand.
My date showed up 5 minutes late, and I was… underwhelmed. Like he was fine looking, but shorter than me and not exactly my type (my type, of course, being major fuckboy named Jack). I stood up to greet him and he shook my hand while I went in for a hug, which became immediately very awkward. I was just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to please not be the absolute fucking worst. We sat down and launched into conversation.
J – How was your 4th of July weekend?
D – Never mind that, what do you do for work and where are you from?
LE SIGH. WE ARE NETWORKING. IT IS HAPPENING. I tried to ignore the sadness in my soul and the incessant buzzing of my phone as my friends blew up our group text while I answered.
J – I do consulting, and I’m a local, I’m from Vienna. How about you?
D – Vienna? Where’s your accent?
J – …what do you mean?
D – Vienna is in Austria!
J – Haha, that is true, but it’s also a town about 15 minutes outside DC with a dedicated Metro stop on the orange line. Hence why I said I’m a local. Are you new to the area?
D – Nope! Moved here from California about 2 years ago.
J – Why the fuck did you leave California for this swamp?!
He was probably about to say something, but was interrupted when the Post photographer swept in and instructed us that we would now be taking photos. Grand. I swung around to his side of the table (now in full view of my friends and prior hookup), slung my arm around his shoulder, and we started the photo shoot. All was fine, until…
D – Should we dab?
J – Haha what? You’re not seriou-
AND THEN WE WERE DABBING. ON CAMERA. IT ALL HAPPENED SO FAST. That’s right, WaPo owns a photo of me dabbing at a fancypants restaurant and now I can never be president.
Post-photoshoot, we sidled back into our seats and got on with the date. I’ll spare you the boring details but we talked about our jobs, he works on the Hill, yadda yadda you’ve heard it all before. The next impasse occurred when we returned to the subject of my DC history.
J – Yeah, I live in Dupont now, but lived in Clarendon and Columbia Heights before this.
D – Ah, Clarendon, cool! How did you like Maryland?
J – …Clarendon is in Arlington and also has a dedicated Metro stop?
D – Ohhh. Cool. So where do you work?
J – I work out of our office in Ballston most days.
D – Ballston! Maryland!
J – JESUS MARY AND JOSEPH WHO TAUGHT YOU GEOGRAPHY.
I have NO words. Shortly thereafter, I took a break to go to the bathroom, and was greeted by my friend C who barged in after me.
C – TELL ME HOW IT’S GOING DO YOU LIKE HIM IS IT GOOD
J – Ugh no he’s dumb I hate him.
C – Dude, that sucks, I’m sorry.
J – It’s the gruesome reality we face.
There were several other transgressions, including:
– Claiming to have just spent 2 weeks visiting friends in Italy but not knowing what cannoli or risotto were;
– Never having heard of the timeless American classic “Jesse’s Girl”;
– Going on a 20 minute diatribe about the Rob K and Blac Chyna drama (literally why do you know this);
– Telling me he hated 14th & U bars because there are too many drunk girls who think they’re still in college (PRESENT);
– Having lived at 18th & S for a year before moving to NoMa and having never even heard of Lauriol Plaza! This one actually drew a tear, as no one has truly lived until they have had partaken in a mug of sangrita swirl.
It wasn’t a love connection, but we’re decent humans. We didn’t want any lives ruined. We mutually agreed to rate each other a 3.5, then wrapped up dessert and headed outside. We had been there for THREE HOURS. I was heading to my friend’s studio to do some recording on his podcast, and D was heading home. We hugged, he asked for my number for some unknown reason (I think it was pretty clear that there was strong mutual dislike), and he hopped into his Uber while I strolled to my next destination. I did my interview the next day, was very nice because – once again – HUMAN DECENCY – and patiently waited for the article to run.
On the morning of my “Date Lab Day” I was nervous, but excited. This was TD’s big break! I could be famous! I didn’t have to worry too much about the article (except for the off chance that they would use our dabbing picture in which case I had a full contingency plan to move to Toronto and marry Drake) because we had already agreed on our rating.
BOY, WAS I WRONG. I was walking to the Metro on my way to the office when my friend A texted me.
A – 2.7
J – What?
A – Are you drinking yet?
J – It’s out already?
A – 6 AM. He rated you a 2.7.
It was like an emotional drive-by shooting. All of a sudden, texts from my friends started flooding in. I had to read the article. I paused the podcast I was listening to and managed to read the whole thing between 17th & Rhode Island and Farragut West. What did I learn? Well, I’m so glad you asked!
– He wanted someone who was pretty BUT liked books (clearly mutually exclusive) AND wasn’t basic and had DANK MEMES. Dope.
– He had apparently been positively drooling over the bison steak on the menu, but immediately upon hearing that I was vegetarian, decided it was hopeless and didn’t bother bringing that up. Even though, had he asked, I would have been very okay with it, because I’m a reasonable person. And then he decided to harp on this fact throughout his entire article. As one does.
– He thinks he’s 5’11. Sir, you’re 5’9 on a good day. Stop standing on tip toes at the doctor’s office.
– He knows of somewhere to get a turkey leg in DC at 10 PM on a Wednesday night??? Still unsure about this one.
And, perhaps most importantly, he reneged on our agreement to rate each other 3.5 by giving me 2.7 out of 5 stars. WHAT. THE. ACTUAL. FUCK.
D, you look like Oscar the fish from Shark Tale. I hope you step on a lego every day for the rest of your life, you prick.