In an ideal world, every Courtship Connection would start with tequila shots and end with tongue-twisting. But given that we’re working with careful and risk-averse lawyer types, historically our participants have tended to put a damper on the sparks. And not just the romantic kind.
If there’s no chemistry, the next best option is brutal honesty about why that was. It’s rare to actually tell someone why a date was mediocre. It’s much easier just not to call afterward (or not to return a call, if the lack of chemistry wasn’t mutual). But these aren’t normal dates –- these are blind dates set up by a legal blog that involve anonymous, public reviews. If there are no sparks, ATL readers expect some snark. No one benefits from a “blah blah, x was a nice person, but we didn’t click” review. Readers get bored, and your disappointing date doesn’t learn anything about why he or she fails at first impressions. She seemed too desperate for a free meal? Note it. He’s a chatty Kathy? Be catty about it. Her exhaustion was a turn-off? Let us know. His ordering fancy French cocktails was unmanly? Emasculation notation, please.
In other words, Courtship Connection is supposed to be what happens when daters stop being polite, and start getting real. Think of your blind date as a legal memo and yourself as the partner reviewing it for flaws and fallacies before submitting it to the court. Let’s read between the lines and figure out why two recent dates fizzled instead of sizzled…
These two lawyers work for two of D.C.’s best law firms, and went to the same top-tier law school. She’s 27. He’s 32. If not lawyers, he’d be a writer and she’d be an interior designer. He wants to make partner; she wants to make policy. I sent them to Bedrock Billiards, a fun little underground bar in Adams Morgan, on a Thursday night. Place was empty, with a group of bartenders watching a violent scene from one of the Rocky movies. Wannabe-John-Grisham was wearing a black pinstripe suit. Our HGTV-loving Lady Lawyer was in a multicolored dress. Grisham’s write-up starts:
I wish I had a great story to tell, but all I can say is that I had a very pleasant evening with a brilliant, friendly, beautiful woman with whom I was not able to make a real connection.
He wanted to hit it. She wanted to quit it.
It turned out (surprise, surprise) that we had a lot in common in terms of type of practice and alma mater. However, at least at first, we talked more about the law and practicing law than was probably healthy or advisable.
Yep. Talk the law for five minutes max. Then take control of the convo, steer it in a new sexy, non-law direction.
Luckily, there were pool tables there to rescue them:
I hadn’t touched a pool cue in about eight years. I think she won two out of three games.
Uh oh. Not good. Losing is not a strategic move in a man’s date playbook.
While we played we continued to talk and were able to move away from work and towards more personal topics such as our families and interests, etc. Of note, I somehow correctly deduced that she was an only child, an observation which surprised (and perhaps annoyed) her. We then moved on to foosball, which was a bad move on my part because I am embarrassingly bad at that game. (I never had access to a foosball table in college, and where else am I supposed to learn the game?) We played against two scientists who completely smoked us.
Wow. Grisham’s plot twists just keep getting worse. Can this character be saved?
HGTV chose to gloss over Grisham’s many shortcomings in her write-up. She said:
Bedrock’s a game bar, so we drank a second round playing pool, as well as a foosball series with two UNC Chapel Hill chemists in town for a conference. After they tragically handed us our asses, it was getting late and neither of us had eaten, so we headed next door to the well-named Cashion’s Eat Place. The conversation over dinner naturally focused on law school and firm life, although it made me think I need some distinctive hobby so that the most interesting thing about me isn’t my résumé.
The specificity of her description of Bill Nye the Science Guy and his buddy leads me to believe she would have preferred to have spent the rest of the night with Nye instead of Grisham. He says:
After having another beer or two on a couch next to the foosball table, she suggested that we get a bite to eat, which turned out to be at a restaurant next door. I don’t know the name of it except it said “Eat Place” on the facade. We had a late, light dinner for about 30 minutes or so at an outside table and chatted about favorite television shows and the like.
So she’s completely steering this date? There’s no chemistry, but she’s hungry. They go to the closest place possible to minimize time spent walking somewhere together. Cashion’s Eat Place is a nice restaurant for a leisurely dinner, but they chowed down as quickly as possible. Not good. He says:
This takes us to about 10:00 – 10:30 PM when we took our leave of each other. This is when I sort of neglected to suggest that we see each other again sometime. I didn’t ask largely because I concluded based on her body language and other factors that — while we were able to keep up fairly interesting conversation for about three hours — we didn’t have any potential for romantic connection.
What were these other factors….? She started talking about how hot the chemists were during dinner? When you rubbed your leg against hers under the table, she vomited? Inquiring minds want to know.
However, I know that I should have at least broached the issue and let her reject me, rather than just assume. It would have been nice to see her again for coffee or something casual, but whether out of unacknowledged fear of rejection or simply an accurate assessment of the situation, I blew the opportunity. Live and learn, I guess.
Please learn from this. Please.
A quick hug goodbye before dodging into a taxi, and the date was over. I don’t see LEWW in our future, but it was a fun night with good company.
Next time, Grisham, more assertiveness, less work talk… and more winning at table games. HGTV, feel free to abort mission earlier when a date sucks. You could have walked out together, but then circled back to the bar to hang out with the guys you know are good at drumming up chemistry.
On to the next date. Same scenario: the guy was feeling the magic, but the lady wasn’t tasting it. These are two twenty-something law students. He had a little WGWAG obsession. I paired them because of their lack of creativity. When asked what they’d do rather than law, he said he’d be a “construction worker (my previous occupation),” and she said she’d be “a secretary because that’s what I was [before law school].” i imagined they could go to bed together and dream small.
I sent them to Churchkey in Dupont on a Thursday night. He wore a blue shirt and brought a Bluebook (19th ed.). She wore a pencil skirt and brought a pencil. Pencil Pusher says:
The first thing I noticed was that the “blue dress” shirt wasn’t what I would have considered work appropriate, especially at a firm – just a little too casual. I had a feeling I wasn’t getting an actual lawyer here, and I was right.
Translation: I want someone who will take me out to fancy dinners?
I grabbed my stuff and headed back to his table, realizing that in a pencil skirt, cardigan and heels, I was way overdressed for this date. But overall not a bad start – he was nice and friendly and we joked about letting a stranger set us up. (Difference between us – he told everyone he knew about this. I only told someone who would know immediately if I went missing: my roommate. And I gave her your email address, just in case she needed to find out my date’s real name.)
This isn’t what I call a “good start.” Though our Blue Man Group Reject had promised me “a funny, or at least a very embarrassing story,” he wimped out, deciding on being super-nice in his write-up in hopes of scoring a second date:
One of my date’s best qualities has got to be her ability to put people at ease. She either doesn’t realize how hot she is or just doesn’t care – either way, her down-to-earth nature was appealing. We started with the standard law student conversation, comparing our DC schools, discussing the legal job market, etc. We talked a little about our families; I showed her a picture of mine (though she didn’t seem that impressed). All-in-all it was probably a pretty boring conversation – BUT – I think purposefully bland.
We both were a little reserved as to what we said and how we said it, knowing that the details of our date would soon be public.
Ohhhhhh. It was purposefully boring. How very clever.
She drank gin and tonic; I started with beer and switched to vodka soda.
Unless you can rock a mini-skirt and stilettos, do not rock a vodka soda.
And to preempt you: yes, I ordered vodka soda for its sugar-free and low calorie properties.
Not to sound like a spoiled child, but he got what he wanted (a “white girl”) but I didn’t get the attorney I asked for. I’ve dated a few law school guys and I’m ready for someone who’s a little less into weekly bar reviews – got any of those around?
Boys of ATL? Are there any attorneys with a better grasp of business-casual than Blue Man who are currently in the market for a law school lover? Con: if you take me up on this offer, make sure to sip your drinks. She says:
We had a couple drinks (me: 2, him: 4, but who’s counting…) and chatted for about two hours, so we clearly made decent conversation.
Pro: she’s a gunner. Talking about their differences, she says:
I work hard and get good grades (yeah, I’ll own up to that. It’s supposed to be anonymous, right?). He actually brought up that he gets bad grades. I even did the obligatory, “oh come on, I’m sure you got one B once, please.” Nope, he corrected me. Apparently, they’re actually bad grades. I’m not sure if he was just trying to be self-deprecating, but the combination of him being at a higher ranked school and his seemingly sincere shock at landing his [law firm] summer job plus his sort of slacker attitude kind of rubbed me the wrong way. Honestly, I’m sure it’s just me – I’m a strange combination of kind of proper, Charlotte York style, but ragingly liberal. And I’m sure he’s very smart and very driven – I just got the impression that he doesn’t think it’s cool to own up to that, and I disagree. But then again, I’ve been told I’m a “strong personality” so maybe that’s just me again.
The rest of her write-up was basically a personal ad. Another pro: She loves sports. Leaded Lady says she was shocked and disappointed that Blue Man doesn’t bleed blue (or some other sports-team affiliated color):
I’m not sure I’ve ever been on a date where the guy didn’t mention sports at all. Maybe I just haven’t been on all that many dates recently, but that’s a go-to for me and really helps the conversation along. I know a lot about sports and I’m a huge fan of my teams, so I can totally hold my own in a sports conversation. It just didn’t come up and I didn’t want to bring it up, but maybe it’s my fault for not telling you that a contributing factor to one breakup was my ex’s dislike of baseball.
She signed her write up, “Still looking for a lawyer.” So if she sounds like your type, hit me up with an email.
As for Blue-Balled Man, he’s probably going to be bluer after reading this. He says:
At the end of the night I managed to slip the waiter my credit card when my date went to the bathroom. She made some remark about how we should have split it; I told her I like to err on the side of safety. I’d rather be overly chauvinistic than a cheap bastard. We exchanged numbers and a slightly awkward hug before parting ways. In conclusion: we weren’t head-over-heels over each other and I’m not sure if there will be another date, but I’m going to ask her after I finish writing this report. Why? Because:
(1) she’s pretty hot; (2) she’s cool; (3) she seems like the kind of person that could grow on you.
He will not be growing in her. He sent her a text asking if she was free to meet up again. She sent him a polite, but vague I’m-busy-for-a-while-but-I’ll-let-you-know-when-I’m-free reply.
Sorry, Blue Man, I sent you on a kamikaze date. I hadn’t realized that a completed JD and a six-figure salary were a must for this SWF. If a lawyer is interested in being Pencil Pusher’s No. 2, drop me a line.
Kash is an editor emeritus of Above the Law. She now spends her days at Forbes writing about privacy, technology and the law at The Not-So Private Parts. For a background on the creation of ATL Courtship Connection, see My Weird Hobby: Matchmaking Lawyers.