Chem 101: Dee, Christian and a third wheel named Johnny

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The Chem 101 series is proudly presented by Ruth’s Chris Steak House, the official sponsors of date night. 

How does it work? Charlotteans fill out this 37-question Agenda Chem 101 Survey about their make-or-breaks, their ideal types and their ideal dates. Then the Agenda plays matchmaker by sending couples out on blind dates. Below are the results.

Welcome to Chem 101, the Agenda’s blind date series.

This is the latest in a multi-part series in which I match single Charlotteans of all ages.

Applicants sent me a few details on things like their views on politics, religion and marriage and trusted me to send them on a true blind date.

Those selected don’t know anything about their date except the essentials – name, age and one thing that I thought would make them a good match. They don’t even get to see a picture.

After sifting through over 1,100 applicants, I set aside several pairs and, based on their survey answers, set up a date I thought they’d enjoy.

Next up: Dee, a 40-year-old Editor-in-Chief of a national trade magazine, and Christian, a 48-year-old Managing Director.

I matched the two for their similarities in political views, deal breakers (they both mentioned smoking first) and how outgoing both of them seem to be. On paper, they’re a brilliant match.

While Dee likes wine and cheese plates for a first date, Christian prefers longer, interactive dinners, so I tried to meet them in the middle with a Spirit of Charlotte food and drink tour of Uptown. In the span of a few hours, they hit several restaurants to try some classic dishes paired with beer, wine or a cocktail. Since it departed from 7th Street Public Market, they met at the market beforehand.

There was a catch: The tour was supposed to have close to a dozen people on it. They were the only two that signed up.

Which meant that they had what they both – lovingly – referred to as a “third wheel” in their tour guide, Johnny, who even stuck around for drinks afterward with them.

Here’s how it went.

How do you feel about the dating scene in Charlotte? And if you’re in it, how are you meeting people?

Dee: I am dating. When I moved here initially [a little less than a year ago], there was a flurry of dating, just because I was trying to hop in, figure out what the scene is like, and then I was briefly sort of involved with someone – not that it was serious or heartbreaking at the end of it, we just weren’t right for each other – but then I just figured, ‘You know what, you should probably just focus on other parts of settling into a new place. This is clearly not the most important one, so stop putting all your energy here.’

So I took a step back, the irony of course being that you kind of reached out right when I made that decision. I’d made that decision in my head not to really start dating again, because once you get to the holidays and you’re not seeing someone, what’s the point? Then it’s just awkward to date someone over the holidays if it’s not serious.

I decided not to actively date until after Valentine’s Day just to clear that path, and then this date happened, so I thought that was sort of funny. And someone else kind of came out of the woodwork that made my whole proclamation seem stupid, so I was like, ‘Oh, that’s how that works. Okay.’

But dating, I mean, there’s so much to do, so that’s a lot of fun. The guys down here are definitely… um… more superficially gentlemanly. There’s a lot more insisting on door opening and doing all of those chivalrous things that in New York, has just kind of gone by the wayside.

They do the opening the car door, and opening the door for you, and paying for things and taking your jacket and making sure you’re standing on the right side of the road. That sort of stuff. But at the end of the day, they don’t call when they say they’re going to call. Ghosting is not a phenomenon only in New York. You think you have a great date, you never hear from someone again. So that stuff is universal, but while you’re on the date, you fall into more stereotypical gender roles – which, listen, I’m all for equality and stuff, but on a date, you still like a little chivalry, not going to lie. So that’s been a lot of fun, but it doesn’t really go deeper than that. No one’s called me, or come to pick me up at my home. I’m not being courted, there are just these kind of ingrained notions of Southern gentleman behavior that have lived longer down here than in New York. I enjoy it, it’s just a struggle for me, because I’m used to opening my own door. There’s always an awkward jockeying. If I waited for someone to open my door in New York, I’d be standing there for a while.

But at the end of the day, I think there’s still the same sort of mentality of ‘There are so many fish in the sea, so I’m just going to keep churning through them.’

I also think that dating at 40 is different than dating at 20, no matter where you are. I don’t think that’s a regional thing. So, you know, I’m looking forward to the springtime, having finally settled in and seeing what dating down here has to offer once again.

Christian: I’m not dating much. I don’t really see it as a scene for me, which might be unique to what I do, in that I run a lot of social programs where I’m super exposed to people. I’m always interacting with people of the opposite gender and doing things in small groups. If people like each other, they like each other. So I’ve never really felt like there was a scene.

My job, literally, I’m out and about running social events 2 or 3 times a week at least, and when I want to, I go out with people I meet there. I’ve never really had a problem asking someone to go do something. Right now, the last year or two, I just haven’t gone that next step to ask someone individually to do something as a date.

I do things with just a girl, but I call it pseudo-dating, an ‘I just want to be your friend’ kind of a deal. But it’s with people I just meet instead of people I’ve known forever. Like we’ll have a bowling league tonight, and if I meet someone interesting, I’ll be like, ‘Hey, we’re having a wine festival, do you want to go?’ But I don’t bring them as a date. I think what I’m doing is kind of testing the waters without committing to it, if that makes sense.

I’m normally pretty clear about letting them know that there will probably be other people there or tell them to bring a friend. 5 or 10 years ago, I probably wasn’t clear about it, but now, I think I’m clear. But who knows? There haven’t been any weird situations in the past few years.

But we become friends. And every once in a while, it develops into something more for two or three dates. If I’m consistently asking you to do something by yourself, then, you know, I’m taking some interest in you.

How did you feel leading up to the date? Were you ever nervous or hesitant, or was there ever a moment you had second thoughts about letting a total stranger send you on a date with another total stranger?

Dee: The only time I felt like backing out was day of, and that was only because I was like, ‘Oh, I’m so comfy on my couch.’ It had nothing to do with fearing the date, it was just like, ‘I gotta get up and start doing the things that make me publicly presentable.’ There was never a concern that the date wasn’t going to be fun or he wasn’t going to be a perfectly lovely person to spend the next several hours with. It was just the same old impulse of whenever you make plans in advance and then you actually have to show up.

I wasn’t nervous. It was funny. When I told people I was doing this, one of my friends said, ‘Well, did you do a background check on him?’ I’m like, ‘No, how would I? Why would I? It’s a blind date. I’m going into it in the spirit that it is meant for me to go into it.’ And I was like, ‘We’re in public, I’ma  grown woman, I survived in Manhattan for 18 years. I will be fine.’

It occurred to me that I could reach out to a couple of people and be like, ‘Hey, does a 48-year-old named Christian who lives in Plaza Midwood ring any bells?’ But I didn’t.

He apparently did try to stalk me, to no avail, which is funny.

Christian: I was very relaxed about it most of the time, but I also was like, ‘I don’t know what the other person’s expectation is,’ which is something I’ve never had to worry about. I’ve never been on a blind date or had anybody set me up, so not knowing anything, I kind of hesitated.

What was your first impression?

Dee: That he looked like a nice guy!

Um, you should know, and he’ll probably bring it up, that I was late. I was horrified by that because, given the circumstances, there was no way for me to let him know that I was running late.

So I was about 12 minutes late, which, when you’re sitting there at a bar waiting for someone you’ve never met to meet you, is probably very nerve-racking. I had decided to take the light rail, which is funny because it was a direct shot from my apartment. It was like, ‘Well, that would be stupid not to take the light rail.’ Which I’ve taken 3 other times since I moved here, and still haven’t figured out the schedule for.

So I was out there waiting for the light rail watching the clock tick by, being like, ‘Oh, this is horrible!’ So I ran in, sort of like, ‘Oh my god, Christian, I’m so sorry!’

First impressions were probably a little awkward, given that I was all flustered and apologetic, and he was like, just looking at his phone.

But he looks like a nice guy. I don’t know if that’s a look you can describe, but he looks like a nice guy. Anything I can think to say sounds derogatory, and that’s not what I mean at all. He just looks like a nice, solid, down to earth person. He looked like he was comfortable in himself, who he was and the space he occupies in the world. It was very easy to be comfortable around him, which is a testament to what I found out to be true about him later.

That first impression rang true throughout the date.

Christian: So when I got there, I got there two or three minutes before we were supposed to, and I really had to use the bathroom. It’s an open market, so I kind of cut through, because I didn’t want to meet her and then say, ‘I need to use the restroom.’ So I did the self-conscious thing where it was like, ‘Well she knows what I’m wearing, and she may think I’m just kind of doing a drive-by to take a look and then make a decision’ because I’m literally walking through the market.

But she wasn’t there, which was good. She was late getting there, so I… I had no way to get a hold of her. It’s about 15 minutes after the time we’re supposed to meet, and I’m going, ‘Well do I still hang here?’ I’m sitting at the wine bar, and I don’t want to order, because I’d rather order with whoever I’m with, but then I started to think that maybe she’d gone by, seen me and said, ‘Well, screw it, I’m out.’

I admit I had some questioning thoughts, but once she got there, she came right up to me, we hugged and she had a really open personality. She’d tried to take the train up and was running behind and she was just slightly flustered, which made it easy to kind of laugh about it and that was it for any awkwardness.

Did you guys get along? What’d you like about each other, and what was the vibe? Was there chemistry?

Dee: We totally got along. It was kind of funny, our food tour ended up being just us and the tour guide. Just the two of us, and a third wheel [laughs], which kind of complicated the blind date.

I think we probably had less time to just sort of sit and talk amongst ourselves because of it, but I think it also provided a lot less distraction. He was fantastic, and he had a great personality, and he was very sensitive to the situation. He would kind of walk ahead while we were walking between venues, allowing us to walk together.

So when I first got there and we had our first pre-go drink and there were only two of us, we got more time to do that. Normally they have a lot more time built in to wrangle everybody, but they didn’t have to wrangle anybody, so we got to sit there and talk. So we did the preliminary ‘What do you do, where do you live’ kind of things before we actually started the walking tour.

And it was also kind of interesting because Johnny, who also lives here, was born and raised here, and Christian’s been here for 25 years, so they kind of reminisced, which was cool for me to get kind of a history from two long-time residents of how much the city’s changed – what that building used to be, where we used to hang out. It was kind of not only a food tour, but also a history tour for me.

Johnny did leave, and we stayed at the last place for a couple more drinks and continued to talk. I think we got all of the regular first date talking in. It was just kind of spread over a long period of time. Kind of chopped up.

I gave a lot of thought – and had a lot of moments where I’d sort of sit there and stare at him and be like, ‘Could I date this guy? Would I want to date this guy?’

My personal dating background is… when there’s that immediate sort of spark and chemistry right off the bat, it’s always ended poorly for me. So I’m at the point in my dating life where I’m open to that sort of thing growing. So, you know, during the date, I was like, ‘Could this grow? Could I date this man?’ And I think the answer there is yes, but it would require… it was a lovely date, but it was very manufactured. There was no sense of, if the two of us decided to do something on our own, what would that look like?

So I definitely think there was enough personality interest there that I could definitely spend more time with him. I would certainly go out with him again and absolutely think he’s a great guy, very interesting and has a really interesting career and life story. He’s so incredibly well-traveled and he’s been to so many interesting places – not New York, which I found really funny, like it’s the easiest place to get to. He’s been to the Great Wall of China and all sorts of places, but not New York.

Did I want to climb him by the end of the date? No, but that never ends well anyway.

Christian: It was super relaxed, honestly. It was almost like I’d known her for a really long time. It was a familiar vibe. I wouldn’t say it was a romantic feel to it, because we had someone with us the whole time.

But the food tour was interesting to me and to her, so every 30 minutes to an hour, we were somewhere new with someone explaining things to us. So more of our conversation was with the guide and about how interesting it was, instead of getting into the smaller talk until it was just us at the end.

But it was a very comfortable vibe. She felt like an old friend that I’d known for a few years. She was easy to get along with conversationally.

Afterward, we stayed at Crave and I bought us all a drink and he stayed with us maybe 30 minutes longer. And then we got one more drink before she called an Uber, and we just got to know each other a little more in-depth.

How did you leave it?

Dee: It did end rather abruptly.

So it was a food and drink tour, and at the last place, we had two more drinks. I had a vodka martini, which was very large, which was probably a mistake on my part. And then I switched to wine, but after that switch to wine, and it was approaching 10 o’clock, I could tell I was getting tipsy. I was like, ‘Okay, check!’ And I Ubered home, which always make it abrupt. You walk to the door and you’re kind of chatting, and then all of a sudden, you’re Uber’s there.

It’s a godsend in a lot of ways, but for ending a date, it’s not very elegant.

So he said something and I was like, ‘Oh, we should exchange information.’ And he agreed, and said, ‘Let me give you my number, and you can call if you want to.’ So I was like… ‘Oh. Okay.’

I took his number, immediately called him and said, ‘Well now you have my number.’

I hugged him goodbye, hopped in the cab and went home. I did text him and say thank you so much, I’m home. But that’s kind of been it.

We haven’t talked since – maybe we’re both waiting for this part to be over. But maybe we’ll be friends, if he’s interested in that, but it also sounds like he has a lot of friends. An active social life.

But I also don’t know if that’s just… he’s just really waiting on more assurance on my end? Maybe this is why I’m single.

Christian: Her Uber came up and we both realized we had no way to get a hold of each other, so we very quickly swapped numbers right at the end. But we didn’t really converse about doing anything moving forward. She texted me when she got home, and I told her I’d talk to her soon, so I left it that we’d at least continue communicating.

What rating would you give the date? Let’s do it on a one to five scale.

Dee: Altogether, the date was a 5. It was a really fun idea for a date, and the nice part is that he went to places he hadn’t been before. And the one place he hadn’t been was the one place I’d been. It was nice that we got to see places, and it was a really nicely organized event. The tour guide was amazing, and I think you were spot on in thinking that we both have the personality type that we’d have a good time, regardless of the circumstances.

I have zero complaints about the date, except for the fact that in that manufactured setting, it’s kind of hard to determine what somebody would be like on a real date. Like would he have offered to pay for everything? That sort of thing matters to me, and not because I expect men to pay for everything, but because there’s a moment of wondering.

And would he have planned a cool date? You never know, but he seems like he would have put effort into a date.

Christian: I’d give it a 4 or 5. I really enjoyed it. As a date, we definitely had a connection, I’m just not sure if it was romantic or not. On a 1-5, I’d say 5. It was a great experience, and my plan is to ask her out to do some stuff, and who knows? I don’t really have any intents either way, but I definitely enjoy her company and am up for doing a few things and seeing if goes that way or if it becomes a really good friendship.

Update: The two have stayed in touch, but between the two of them have seen plenty of travel and one broken ankle, making it hard to find time to go on another date. They say that, at the very least, they’ll stay friends.

Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Single and want to participate in Chem 101? Here’s the Agenda Chem 101 dating survey. Fill it out for a chance to be selected. 

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Kylie Moore
Writer doubling as a travel, wine, and Oxford Comma enthusiast.