Smashing taboos: Professor meets student

The background


There's nothing quite as titillating as the illicit, and Matchmaker delights in pushing the envelope. So when the chance to set up a professor and a student arose, it was a no-brainer. Heh, heh. Anyone's hackles up?

Okay, okay, smooth those ruffled feathers, and don't start humming "Mrs. Robinson" or "Don't Stand So Close to Me" just yet. Matchmaker's intrigued by the illicit, but she's also prone to exaggeration... In fact, while 41-year-old Michael is a professor, the student he was set up with has never– and will never– take his class. In fact, they're in different schools at UVA, and they're both single parents. At 43, Sarah's a single mom who's back in grad school and trying to find time in her hectic schedule to date. Michael is also doing the single parent jig following a divorce.

Both are liberal, both love their kids, the outdoors, and academics. Will they be quick studies in finding love?


The date


Michael and Sarah went to Zocalo in Central Place on the Downtown Mall.


Did you do anything unusual to get ready for the date?


Sarah: I got stung twice on the left heel by yellow jackets that morning, and could barely walk. I spent the whole day applying a variety of substances to my heel including ice, toothpaste, baking soda, solarcaine, and meat tenderizer, in an attempt to not hobble into the restaurant– which I managed, even though my ankle kept swelling up while we sat there.

Michael: Not really.


Were you first to arrive?

Sarah: I was first

Michael: Second. I got there right at 7:30.


Were you nervous?

Sarah: No. I enjoy meeting new people, and I don't really have expectations other than that if they're interesting, I'll enjoy it, and if they're really awful, it will make a good story.

Michael: I'm old enough to know that a person is either going to like me or not, so I might as well just be me.


First impression:


Sarah: Michael looked intellectual and was friendly and soft-spoken.

Michael: She seemed very nice, cute, and a bit reserved. I could see a lot of appealing things about her, but I didn't feel a strong connection with her.


Would you say this person was your type?


Sarah: I don't think I have a type– rather, there's a combination of personality, character traits, and physical features that can be appealing. I'd say Michael wouldn't turn my head but was within the range.

Michael: As a romantic type, no. As someone I could relate to and whose company I enjoy, absolutely.


Describe what your date was wearing


Sarah: A polo shirt with some kind of logo. I don't generally notice what men are wearing unless it's outstandingly good or bad.

Michael: A multi-colored skirt, past the knees; a red short-sleeve blouse over an undershirt. It was appealing, but subdued and detracted from her physical features.


What did you order, and how was it?

Sarah: We had the beet and arugula salad (we shared). I had the grouper with couscous, and he had the steak. The sauce with the grouper was heavenly, and the couscous was more flavorful than any I've had before. We both had desserts– I had the chocolate bread pudding, which was delicious (but too rich to finish), and he had the cheesecake. I've been to the bar at Zocalo a few times, but being a starving grad student, I'd not eaten dinner there before. It's definitely as good as everyone says!

Michael: It was excellent; lots of rich flavors and great sauces; Zocalo is one of the better restaurants in Charlottesville.


How was the service in the restaurant?


Sarah: It was excellent– very attentive but not cloyingly so.

Michael: Mixed, but mostly very good; they were very attentive and kind most of the time, but at a few points it felt like we got ignored for a good while (e.g. near the beginning before we ordered)


How was the conversation?


Sarah: We talked about our kids quite a bit. One of his daughters called just as we were getting started. It was nice to have this in common. We discussed our career paths, movies, politics– it seemed like a good give-and-take. (I never mentioned the yellow jacket stings because I forgot about them while we were talking.)

Michael: Going on a blind date; our kids and how much we love them/how we parent; both of us discussed how we got into our careers, and why we care about what we do. She mentioned the challenge of going back to grad school as an older student and single mom and how difficult it would be to find a good job that would be able to pay her enough money, not overwork her, and still let her do something she cared about. I really respect that and appreciate how hard it is to find.


Did you have a lot in common?


Sarah: Yes– we both have had similar experiences as parents, and similar political views and tastes.

Michael: Yes, especially our views about the world, politics, and parenting.


What did you find out that was interesting about this person?


Sarah: He played saxophone in a jazz band.

Michael: She is passionate about social change, and caring for other people and her son.


Was there anything you really disliked?

Sarah: No. He did seem somewhat formal and serious, but that could be just stress of the occasion.

Michael: No


Was there "chemistry" or interesting body language between you?

Sarah: No, but I don't know that means anything.

Michael: I'd say yes– again, she was very easy to talk to. It just didn't spark a romantic connection.


How did dinner end?


Sarah: We discovered that our waiter had been clueless about the situation, which was surprising because we had attributed his attentiveness to our status as blind date challengers.

Michael: I said, "Shall we?" and we left.


What was the very end like?


Sarah: We strolled down the Mall, and I ran into an old friend. It turns out that he and Andy had a colleague in common, so we talked with him for a while, then continued on and said goodbye and walked to our respective cars.

Michael: It was fine– a bit awkward but not bad. I asked if she wanted to stay in touch and she said yes. She gave me her phone number, and we said goodnight.


A hug? A kiss?


Sarah: It wasn't a hug or kiss kind of evening.

Michael: Neither


Did you have fun?


Sarah: Yes– it was a very enjoyable conversation.

Michael: Absolutely


Would you see this person again?


Sarah: Yes

Michael: Yes, but probably not as a "date"


Overall date experience?

Sarah: It's very nice to have dinner with someone who can converse intelligently without monologuing.

Michael: It was good.

On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the date?

Sarah: 8.5

Michael: 6


No love match, but a new friend is a nice consolation prize!MM