Dose of love? Writing your own future

The Background

 Twenty-five-year-old med student Erin applied for the Challenge way back in the fall, but getting a date scheduled seemed darn near impossible: Just as Matchmaker made her a match, Erin left for Guatemala for several months; when she came back, her match was no longer available.

But Matchmaker persisted, and it wasn't long before another hot prospect popped up.

Stephen, a 27-year-old writer and MFA candidate at UVA, told Matchmaker he was tired of quiet nights spent at home pounding away on his old Underwood he wanted love (or was it lust?) and he wanted it tout de suite...


The Date

 Stephen and Erin met at The Ivy Inn on Old Ivy Road. After dinner, they planned to stargaze at the McCormick Observatory.


How did you get ready for the date?

 Stephen: I ran six miles that morning because my roommate told me it would make me calmer all day. I was calmer than usual afterward, but also never wanted to run anywhere ever again.

Erin: I've had my fair share of problems with finding places. So I made sure to locate the Ivy Inn while I was out on Friday afternoon.


Were you first or second to arrive?

 Stephen: Second! I was late! It's a curse. I swore to myself, hours before I left, I wouldn't be late. I'm late for everything. But for a blind date? Unacceptable. Then I was late. Only five minutes, I think. I felt very guilty.

Erin: First. I tried to take in the surroundings– the Inn is really cute; it's obviously an old farmhouse but now very stylishly decorated with subtle lighting and antique furniture. I also eavesdropped on a little old lady in the next room. She was dining alone and chatting with the waiter. Rich old ladies are so interesting!


Were you nervous?

 Stephen: Terrified, but I calmed down very quickly. Erin and I were talking comfortably in a matter of minutes.

Erin: I was nervous when I first walked in, but having time to sit by myself a little bit allowed me to get it together.


What did you think of your date?

 Stephen: I was attracted to Erin right off the bat. They had a lovely corner of the restaurant reserved for us, dim lighting, very nice.

Erin: I was very pleasantly surprised! All I knew was that he was a writer, and having a pessimistic streak, I decided he was probably going to be melodramatic and brooding, with scrungy hair and a goatee. Steve is definitely handsome, with a friendly presence that put me at ease quickly. He greeted me with a hug.


How was your date dressed?

 Stephen: Hmm... Purple top, black pants. Simple, pretty.

Erin: This reminds me of one of those "eyewitness" testimonies, where all of the people who supposedly saw a crime remember something slightly different. So, I think I remember he was wearing a button-up navy blue shirt, maybe with some little white lines in it? And a dark shirt underneath? Whatever the details, my gestalt was that he looked very put together, in a relaxed way.


What did you order at The Ivy Inn...

 Erin: I'm practically a teetotaler, so I'm dumb as a post about wines. We ordered a bottle, and I gave a valiant effort at drinking some of it, but then I thought I felt dizzy, so I decided to stick to the water.

Stephen: Erin was drinking a Coke when I showed up. We got a bottle of wine. She barely touched her glass, and I, of course, was knocking mine back. I felt a little self-conscious about this. Until maybe the third glass.


Erin: The Inn outdid itself. We didn't order off the menu; their chef had a special menu for us. We counted it up, and there were actually eight different things brought out over the evening! I'm a vegetarian, so my main entrée was fresh green beans, sautéed spinach, curried sweet potatoes, and little roasted potatoes. We also had had a teeny demitasse of soup (black bean for me), green salad with walnuts, a mushroom and cheese appetizer.... Everything was in small portions, which was perfect– we could sample lots of neat things but not feel stuffed at the end.

Stephen: The eight-course "something special" the cook had prepared for us was spectacular, indescribably delicious. Soup in an espresso cup, a little salad, some kind of mushroom patty, delicious beef... it got better and better.


Erin: Dessert was dee-lish! They brought out a plate with samples of all of their desserts: warm banana bread pudding, a tiny creme brulée, a profiterole (cream puff) with cappuccino ice cream. And that wasn't the end. After dessert was gone, they brought out a little chocolate pecan praline! Our waiter did a good job of being available but not intrusive. With the secluded corner, the special menu, and the personalized service, I felt like some sort of royalty.

Stephen: I spent a good part of the night wishing I were a restaurant reviewer so I could give the place its due.


So while you were gorging, did you manage to talk?

 Stephen: We talked about so many things. Her globe-trotting childhood, travel, medicine, writing, lots more.

Erin: We covered childhood pizza fantasies, kayaking mishaps, embarrassing fathers, the dearth of radio in Charlottesville, "Car Talk"– all the important stuff.


Did you have a lot in common?

 Stephen: Yes, and more came out the more we talked.

Erin: On the surface, no. A medical student who likes to run marathons and is going into the Army, and an MFA student who writes plays and is going to Russia. But somehow I felt like we had a lot in common– maybe that's good-enough to have things be interesting.


Stephen: I was very impressed with the marathons. And also that she's willing and even eager to spend some eight years of her life in Army medicine once she's done with school.

Erin: In preparation for leaving, he's sold his car and walks or bikes around. I don't know if I could be that un-materialistic! I love my car. The other interesting thing was that, before knowing that he was going to do this, he had written a play for Barhoppers. The play was about a blind date. Not only that, he wrote it about a blind date with a med student! Premonition?


Was there anything you really disliked?

 Stephen: Just her habit of digging in her molars with a fingernail between courses. No, I'm kidding. There was nothing.

Erin: Nope.


How was the body language?

 Stephen: There was some flirting. By the end of the meal, we were both leaning in a bit.

Erin: I don't think I ever learned how to flirt. At least not when I wanted to. So I don't think so, although often that stuff goes right by me.


Did you go to the Observatory?

 Stephen: By the time it finally occurred to us to head to the Observatory, it was already closed. We realized we'd been at The Ivy Inn for three hours. Passed like 20 minutes. That's a very good sign.

Erin: We stayed at the restaurant till about 10.


How did it end?

 Stephen: Very interesting. Erin drove me home. I wasn't sure I was ready to go home, and wasn't sure she wanted to drop me off, but it was late-ish, and it seemed clear we'd see each other again, so...

Erin: Steve got my number, said he hoped to see me again soon, and we thanked each other for the lovely evening.


How did it really end?

 Stephen: She put the car in park. She may have just been getting ready to back out, but my heart was pounding. We kissed in the car for a while. Very nice.

Erin: MYOB ;)


Did you have fun?

 Stephen: To say the least.

Erin: Yes– much more than I expected! It was a pretty singular evening. I've had nice dinners before, and I've met cool new people before, but I don't think I've ever had both at the same time. It far exceeded my expectations– made me glad I'd gone out on a limb.


Would you see this person again?

 Stephen: No question.

Erin: Already have.


Overall date experience?

 Stephen: 9

Erin: 10


Well, it looks as though the little delay for the Guatemala trip didn't make any difference. Now we'll have to wait and see if this budding romance can survive Stephen's upcoming Siberian winter.