Date #2: Ben's Next Door
Date #2: Ben's Next Door
Each week our dating diva Dorothy will share her personal experiences from living the single life on her 50 First Dates blog. From restaurants to bars to fun romantic activities, she'll navigate you through the treacherous terrain that is dating in D.C. Even if you're not single, you can still get the scoop on some of the District's best romantic spots (and what to order), fun date ideas, and even tips to keep your love life happy.
By Dorothy Tene' Redmond
My second first date actually started by chance. I wanted to go to a place where everyone knew my name…well, not quite everyone. (Logan and Rob, whose family owns Ben’s Chili Bowl and Next Door, always make me feel welcome when I walk in the door.) In fact the warm reception for not only me but everyone is why I consider Ben's Next Door my D.C. version of Cheers.
The warm ambiance and all around air of friendliness is how I met Mr. Conservative, a cute and cuddly older gentleman with a southern twang. We sang along with the steady mix of 90’s and 80’s R&B hits ever omnipresent at Next Door for at least an A & B selection before he offered to buy me a drink. I explained I wasn’t much of a drinker and it really wasn’t appropriate or cool to ask someone to buy you a plate of crab cakes, so he asked me to have dinner. So we did, right there and then.
Next Door has a unique architectural design, it’s basically shaped like the letter L, with the bar area being the most narrow and liveliest area. The bar is definitely a fun place to hang out especially if you are lucky enough to get seating and most of the bartenders are cute and generous with the drinks. (Kat makes the best Blueberry Caiprioska, a fan favorite of muddled blueberries, lime, and blueberry vodka!)
However, I was on a date and Mr. Conservative and I were in the mood for a more secluded experience, so we grabbed a table in the rear of the restaurant where conversation was much easier to manage.
Over appetizers, I learned he was a father of two, divorced and a registered Republican. While we debated politics, I debated whether I could really date someone with a daughter one year younger than myself. However, the conversation was flowing and I was comfortable enough to share my Tostones (non-sweet plantains) with him between playful barbs.
Despite the age difference, I had to admit to myself, I was having a great time. His intelligence and slight arrogance displayed a confidence that I found to be intriguing. But I had never dated someone with such a wide age gap: His first concert was the Jackson Five and he was already a grandfather.
As we made our way through the main course, the conversation remained as flavorful as my dinner selection. (I had the crispy skin salmon and sautéed spinach) and my date was showing signs he was very comfortable with me as the tone of our conversation became more serious and extremely personal.
In fact, Mr. Conservative was rapidly entering the arena of "over share." I was learning wayyyy too much information about his ex-wife, their sex life, finances and family dynamics. What began as a fun and flirty night quickly eroded into a therapy session and I was being paid in crab cakes and salmon. Not that I was complaining; the food was excellent. I just didn’t want to know so much and so soon.
By dessert, I had learned enough to know there definitely would not be a date two and I was offering to buy the drinks by night’s end.
Lessons Learned on this date:
1. I don’t need to know that now. Conversations about bunions, child support payments and alcoholic relatives are not quite first date friendly. Hold back intimate details of your life until you establish a firm foundation of friendship.
2. Age sometimes is just a number. I never thought I could connect with someone a decade older but until the over share, I had a GREAT time. This date actually helped me expand my window to learn to focus more on the chemistry than DOB.
3. Too much too soon is too much! You can’t approach dating like fast food, sometimes you have to learn to let things simmer instead of forcing instant intimacy.
4. Dorothy’s one drink wonder: Moscato with a dash of St. Jermaine is a deliciously sweet way to end the night! Thanks Next Door for introducing me to this yummy combination.
Stay tuned for next week: Busboys and Poets...