This Valentine's Day, we're launching Left in Love, a dating column for progressive daters who give a damn! Each month, Meghan Murphy will match couples on a quest for radical love and document the date in this space. Below, we present our first couple, Chris and Nichole.
Chris is a 28-year-old graphic designer/web developer. He values creativity and confidence, likes a good pun, and looks good in a tweed jacket. Sarcastic/cynic.
Nichole is a 28-year-old arts and culture writer who also works as a part-time sales specialist at The Room. Empathetic/cynic.
Chris: A few years back I remember someone asking me a question: "What made you more nervous A) a promising date, or B) a promising job interview?" My answer was a resounding "A."
Dates stress me out! The "blind" aspect just added to my nervousness.
Nichole: I wasn't nervous until I started getting ready. I work part-time in retail and you can tell -- my entire wardrobe is white shirts and black bottoms. I'm always being mistaken for sales staff at other stores. I was worried about the picture we'd have to take for the piece -- what would the commenters say!?
I wore a white shirt (surprise) but opted for cropped slim grey cotton trousers and a nice pair of heels, thinking I was safe. But when I got up to use the washroom a man seated at the end of the bar asked me for another order of pita bread as I walked by, thinking I was a server at the restaurant.
Chris: I was nervous the few days leading up to the date. I didn't sleep very well the night before because I kept dreaming about all the things that could go wrong: Not having things to talk about, spilling wine all over myself, being attacked by snakes in the restaurant, etc. I have odd dreams... And I'm scared of snakes.
By the time I showed up at the restaurant, I wasn't nervous anymore. I just kept reminding myself that I didn't have anything to lose, I only had things to gain from this experience.
Nichole: I arrived five minutes early to the restaurant and it turned out the hostess was a friend of mine. Just as I was filling her in on the column, a handsome man walked up behind me. I guessed he was my date and introduced myself. Chris was well-dressed, wearing a soft grey jersey tee with a red plaid shirt layered under a sports jacket. He was tall and had a moustache, which he later told me was for Movember. Once we were seated, I told him I was friends with the hostess, worried he would think I was oversharing with restaurant staff. I thought he might be intimidated but he just asked if it was awkward for me. I was immediately impressed by his confidence and attentiveness.
Chris: My first impression of Nichole was good. Right away I could tell that she was, in her manner and dress, a confident and interesting woman. I noticed her glasses right off the bat (they were large and unusual) -- they showed off a quirky side that intrigued me.
Nichole: It was my first time eating at Nuba, despite the fact that I share an office in the same building, just above. I loved that the restaurant was at garden level and had good lighting; it feels intimate. Chris and I ordered an appetizer and a two-course share plate: La Feast. That was Chris' idea, and a good one. Sharing our meal made it more casual. It was a lot of food but I still made him split a poached fruit dessert with me.
Chris: We enjoyed a great meal and a few drinks. (Thanks rabble and Nuba!) We were there from about 7:30 p.m. till around 11; a decent time for a weekday date.
Nichole and I talked about all kinds of things, covering all the bases for essential date topics. We swapped stories and laughed together when she was coming back from the restroom and another restaurant patron asked her for more pita bread, thinking that she worked there.
Nichole: Conversation flowed easily. We knew nothing about each other so there was a lot to talk about. Chris is approachable and non-judgmental so it was easy to open up. He's a great listener and asked lots of questions, although it made me worried I was doing too much talking! I'm outspoken but don't like to dominate a conversation, especially on a first date when you're talking about yourself so much.
Chris: We found lots of common ground on different subjects and I learned a lot about her by asking questions. There were a few awkward moments early on, but those were brief and conversation was relaxed and easy as the date progressed.
Nichole: Chris does graphic design and animation in a studio just outside of Vancouver. He lives downtown and commutes, he has a car and his own apartment. Chris is obviously smart and has a good head on his shoulders. He seemed independent and self-assured without any bravado.
Chris told me that he threw his brother a bachelor party recently, which didn't phase me. I appreciate a guy who knows how to party -- I'm of the "work hard, play hard" mentality.
Chris: Nichole grew up in small-town Ontario. Since leaving, she moved around to all the major Canadian cities: Toronto, Montreal, Toronto again, and finally Vancouver. That sort of "I'm going to make it in the big city!" aspiration has always been very attractive to me -- to have enough confidence to know that no matter how big the city, you can conquer it. Confidence is sexy.
She's a journalism student, finishing up her master's at UBC and also has a day job in a high-end section of a well-known department store. Toiling away, day-to-day in the shop while working to realize her journalism aspirations… Did you ever see that movie Shopgirl with Claire Danes? I think she is similar to Claire Danes' character... Am I Steve Martin?
Nichole: Chris was a real gentleman, and very observant. The most memorable thing Chris said was actually some professional advice he gave me. (Too personal to detail… sorry!)
I really took it to heart. I'm at a transition point in my life and it was nice to have someone so receptive to speak to. He is quite grounded and has a great outlook on life.
Chris: Nichole talked about reporting on a travelling art show, recently. It was a piece she was commissioned to do for a well-respected fashion magazine and it sounded really interesting. The show was on a train filled with indie celebrities (Eleanor Friedberger!!!) and artists that travelled across America, stopping in towns along the way. It was a completely engrossing story -- I'm definitely going to look it up online.
Nichole: We were pretty well matched. I didn't ask him his age but I could tell we weren't too many years apart. We both have siblings. We both work in creative industries. We didn't get into politics but obviously we were both on the same end of the spectrum (progressivish).
I invited Chris to join me for a drink with friends after our meal. He declined. I thought a group setting in another space would open up the dialogue.
Chris: The date ended after dessert. I had to work early the next morning and wasn't able to go out for any further festivities. I went to hug her good night and she went for a kiss (on the lips!). It was slightly unexpected but cute. Definitely flattering.
Nichole: We could definitely be friends but there was no sexual chemistry. We didn't exchange numbers. So no, I won't be seeing Chris again.
Chris: I am, alas, not that interested in going out on another date. We do have a lot in common and I can fully see how it would make sense to set the two of us up, but I felt like maybe the "blind date" factor was almost a hindrance because going straight to the "date" lost the spontaneity of starting a relationship.
I would be into seeing her again, but in a different social situation. I think we have similar friends and it would be nice to run into her. To see her in a completely different set of circumstances would be interesting to me.
Nichole rates the date 7 out of 10:
Nothing went wrong, conversation flowed and the atmosphere was great. The only thing missing was chemistry.
Chris gave the date a 7.5 out of 10:
A solid "B." She was good company. Overall it was a nice date...
Tired of wading through profiles on online dating sites? Apathetic offerings getting you down? Left in Love is rabble.ca's answer to dating fatigue. And where better to find your match than among fellow progressives! Who wants to waste a night out with someone who thinks heath care is bad for the economy or who suggests things like "pulling oneself up one's bootstraps?" Let us send you out on the town with someone who will tickle your radical fancy! If you're in the Vancouver area and would like to take part, contact us at love[at]rabble.ca.
Meghan Murphy is a writer and a journalist in Vancouver, B.C. The column Left in Love is published every month.
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