“Obviously, the whole point is to not know who the person is,” said Tanya Wadhawan, 24, but she confessed to me that she had done a bit of recon before the date. Armed only with his “really uncommon first name,” she hopped on LinkedIn and discovered they had 50 mutual friends. “We’re going to have so much in common!” she thought.
“I’m an only child,” said the California native, who has been in D.C. for over two years, “so I’m always hanging out with other people and doing things with friends. It would be great to find a boy with the same values.”
We set her up with Chicago native Pierce Witmer, 24, who came to the area a little over a year ago. He hoped The Washington Post would expose him “to a different sort of dating pool,” consisting of women with “similar interests and intellectual capability” who are “knowledgeable about the news and the world.” He’s not into casual hookups and wants to “take the time to connect with someone.”
Coordinating the dinner date was challenging since they were in different time zones: Tanya was in San Francisco on holiday and Pierce was in Chicago, where he has been self-quarantining with his family and working remotely. Though it wasn’t quite dinnertime for either of them, we managed to find a slot when they were both free: 3:30 p.m. for Tanya and 5:30 p.m. for Pierce. They both informed each other that they had previous plans for after the date, so they had an end time.
Tanya “dressed up,” wearing “a cute top, jeans and makeup — which I hadn’t done in a while,” she told me. Her efforts did not go unnoticed. Pierce’s first impression: “She was very well-dressed. It was nice to see she took pride in her appearance.” Pierce wore a short-sleeved, collared shirt and made sure to have a nice Zoom background on the patio. Tanya’s first impression: She had identified the wrong Pierce on LinkedIn. However, she told me, the Pierce she was now speaking to “was a really nice boy.”
While Pierce nibbled on his Chinese food and Tanya sipped a beer (it was too early for her to eat dinner), they talked and discovered their mutual interests, such as playing tennis, strolling through museums and dining out in D.C. They dished on their work lives as well. Pierce admired her “consultant vibe” and “connected with that a lot. Conversation came naturally, which I was hoping for.”
Tanya definitely felt a work vibe, but that was not a good thing: “We were asking each other questions back and forth, but it didn’t feel like a conversation. It felt more like an interview than a date. It felt like the first time you’re getting to know a co-worker. There was no romantic part of it — and that’s okay.”
Pierce acknowledged that it’s tough for him to get out of a work mind-set. “I’m working from home, and I have my family here.” He told me the date was finalized on very short notice and “trying to fit it in to my work schedule” may have “contributed to me thinking in a worklike fashion.”
Once he was done eating dinner, he grabbed a glass of wine, while she was still drinking her beer, and they chatted about family, the pandemic and travel. When the conversation turned to school and Tanya mentioned she’d recently taken the GRE, a big difference began to emerge. “He was telling me he really liked studying and he thinks it’s a lot of fun and he’d be interested in taking all those tests because he enjoys studying a lot,” Tanya recalled. “I studied for the GRE, but it wasn’t necessarily something I looked forward to.”
After roughly 90 minutes, Tanya said Pierce “ended the date with ‘I know you have to go.’ We both knew there wouldn’t be another date.”
Tanya sounded a bit deflated by the experience, admitting that she had high hopes based on the “Pierce from LinkedIn.” And I — ever the romantic and a believer in silver linings — said: “Well, maybe you were destined to find the other Pierce. You have so much in common. You should ask him out!”
“I’ll think about it,” she said with a laugh.
Rate the date
Tanya: 2.88 [out of 5]. “It’s like a work call. It wasn’t a bad experience, but do you necessarily want to be on it? No.”
Pierce:?3. “I don’t know if I had super high expectations. She definitely met those expectations. It was kind of average.”
No further contact.
Vijai Nathan is a comedian, storyteller and writer.