Fiasco at Date Lab

The Washington Post runs a blind-dating service called Date Lab—it even includes a complimentary meal. The catch is both individuals must share their experience with the Post magazine, for better or (invariably) for worse. Sometimes a relationship is sparked, but more often than not, even when the date itself turns out well, one or the other decides it wasn’t meant to be. The couples come in all shapes and sizes, of every color and creed and sexual preference (though mostly straight). In this past weekend’s Date Lab, the blind daters were on the older side. Jack Gray is 64 and Eva-Marie Pede is 59. They both happen to be Republican—but other than age group and political affiliation, they didn’t seem to have anything in common.

Jack tried making small-talk—he didn’t know much about dressage, which happens to be Eva-Marie’s passion. He later asked, “‘Don’t you ever just get on a horse and ride it just to ride it?’ And she says, ‘No, that wouldn’t be right.’ It sounded like she enjoyed being with a horse more than a human.” (Was that a Catherine the Great reference?) Jack was also puzzled by his date’s quietness.

“For me it was an uncomfortable situation,” says Eva-Marie. “It was just very weird, very strange. There would not be anything positive, and so I’d really rather not say anything. It’s awkward; I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings. What my perception is is all it is: just my perception. Someone else might think something completely different.”

At which point Eva-Marie decides to go the bathroom and … never return. “To avoid awkwardness and lengthy explanations, I decided to leave,” she explains. “The interaction was becoming painful, and it was time to go. [There was] just absolutely no compatability, and I didn’t want to stick it out for the duration. I made a quiet exit. I’d rather not say what in particular prompted me.”

As for Jack, he called for the check after 15 minutes. He got the hint, but was still happy for the free meal (at America’s Tap Room in Arlington).

As you can imagine, there are close to 1,000 comments online, a lot of harsh words for Eva-Marie, sympathy for Jack (he looks good in his one photo alone), and some readers who insist we don’t know the whole story and are willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. Indeed, as Eva-Marie mentions, “I’d rather not say what in particular prompted me.” But will we ever find out? Damn you, Date Lab!


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