Blind Date: Alison and Emmanuel, who moonlights as a low-key bowling pro

Blind Date: Alison and Emmanuel, who moonlights as a low-key bowling pro
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The Blind Date 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 Blind Date 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 Blind Date, 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: Alison, a 25-year-old working in the IT world and living in South End, and Emmanuel, a 27-year-old pharmacist living in Dilworth.

Alison spends her time hanging out with her friends at breweries and is described by her best friend – who filled out the application for her without her knowledge – as being the life of the party, adventurous, caring and genuine.

Emmanuel has a soft spot for the city’s food and drink scene, loves taking cocktail classes and appreciates everything there is to do for transplants like him. He and his friends all say that he likes to work hard but play harder.

I matched the two of because they’ve both been in the city the same amount of time (right around 3 years), both have a love for South End, share the same political views and seem to have the same sense of humor. When it came to planning the date itself, I tried to meet them in the middle, since Alison prefers activities while Emmanuel prefers dinner and drinks, and sent them to Piedmont Social House for dinner, drinks and games.

Here’s how it all went.

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

Alison: Honestly, no, I haven’t been super active in the dating scene by any means. I have a few apps that I swipe through occasionally, but I wouldn’t say it ever really leads to anything. I’m on Hinge and Bumble, and I’d say Hinge is probably more responsive. People are probably more serious on it. I mean, Bumble, I have to make the first move, so I don’t spend a lot of time, really, invested in conversation because it’s just a big time investment.

A lot of my friends from college all moved to Charlotte, so I hang out with, really, the same crowd of people I did in undergrad, so I wouldn’t say I’m the best at meeting new people and putting myself out there. I’m super plugged in in the yoga community, so I’d say that within the past year – I finished my yoga teacher training – that’s how I’ve met some of my new friends in the past year. But I’m not necessarily, if I see somebody who’s cute, going to walk up to them and start talking to them. Just waiting until one of my friends sees somebody and mutually introduces me is my method. I mean, I talked to somebody a while ago, and that was how we met, just through a mutual friend.

I guess people are meeting out at bars, but I wouldn’t say that’s my scene, it’s not where I am. The apps are pretty popular, and that seems like what a lot of people are on, but I don’t know if they’re necessarily taking it seriously to get into a relationship or if it’s like every other app we go on, where we’re just there to kind of waste time scrolling through or swiping through. I wouldn’t say Charlotte is known for its dating scene by any means.

Emmanuel: I’m not really dating a lot. When I first moved here, I was actually dating somebody from college, so I was doing that for a little bit and we broke up maybe a year ago. I hadn’t really started to date at all, but my schedule finally started to change, actually a year ago today, and that’s when I kind of starting dating more.

I started going on the dating sites, but it hasn’t really panned out. It’s not quite as easy as it looks, or as it was when I was in school. I’ve tried Bumble, and Tinder as well. I feel that they can be a good thing and a bad thing. It makes it easy, but as far as getting somebody that’s slightly serious, it’s kind of a catch-22, I guess. I tend to stay away from them now, and it’s more of meeting people the old school way, going to bars and meeting new people that way.

I think it’s just – maybe it’s just a sign of the times that we’re all maybe too hyperaware of our own actions. Maybe we think about it a little too much. I’m not sure if that makes any sense, but I think we’re just a little bit too self-conscious and a little too afraid to take that step. At least, for me, that’s what I find. I feel that… it’s kind of hard to explain, but maybe we’re so hyperaware and critical of our own actions, that we’re kind of afraid to put ourselves out there. I think that’s the bad part of social media and those dating apps, that we feel we’re putting ourselves out there, but we’re not fully committed to it, I guess. I don’t know if that makes any sense at all.

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?

Alison: So my best friend was actually the one that filled out the survey, which is kind of funny. She told me after the fact, and I was just like, ‘I can’t believe you did that, but what are the chances that mine gets picked?’ And then you reached out, and of course I got picked, but I was all about it. I was like, ‘Sure.’ It’s kind of a random opportunity, and I had no reason not to go. I was kind of anxious about it and excited, but I didn’t want to back out by any means.

The day of, all my friends were freaking out, asking if I was nervous, but I’m in a sales job, so I have to take clients out to lunch all the time, that’s part of my job, making small talk with people. I was like, ‘Well, if anything, I’ve done this a million times, although in a different context, of course, but I can literally talk to a wall and have a good time.’

I wasn’t really nervous until right before, just because you walk in and you don’t know what to expect. I wouldn’t say I was nervous until the very end.

Emmanuel: I would say that I was definitely nervous. I mean, I’ve never been on a blind date before, so putting that trust into somebody else was kind of… you know, obviously I didn’t know what to fully expect.

The day of, I was getting ready, and I guess I didn’t really see myself as nervous, but I actually accidentally cut myself while shaving, so I guess I was a little bit nervous. Yeah, I mean, meeting somebody that you don’t really know at all, there was definitely a little bit of nerves going into it.

I feel [a true blind date] is a little more intimidating than a Bumble date, yeah, because with a Bumble date, you’re able to kind of chat with the other person a little bit and even to this day, you might be able to kind of find out a little bit more about them before you fully commit to actually seeing them in person.

What was your first impression?

Alison: I got there first, walked in right at 7, because you never show up early to those things, but I was just sitting there kind of waiting, and he was the only other person that walked in and looked kind of confused, and his outfit was exactly what he said he was going to be wearing. I just kind popped up and said, ‘Oh, hey, I’m Alison!’ and gave him a hug.

I could tell he was a little nervous, so my initial reaction is to kind of overcompensate to make people feel comfortable. I started asking questions right away about his weekend and whatever to break the ice.

Emmanuel: I thought she was definitely cute. When we first got there, I thought she’d be a fun person, she looked like she’d be a fun person to hang out with. As the date went on, it felt like she was easy going, and that was definitely a good thing.

With so much to do at Piedmont Social House, how did you choose? Which activities did you end up doing?

Alison: After dinner, we went bowling and I swear, he says he’s not a pro bowler, but I think, low-key, he was. He got a strike or a spare every frame, and I was throwing gutter balls. Hopefully, that gave him a little bit of a confidence boost because he was crushing me in the bowling game, and that’s kind of when we got to talking. We talked about the dating scene in Charlotte, and how we got involved in this blind date set up.

I really liked the setup. It gave us a chance to get to know each other a little bit during the dinner and the drinks, then take some of the pressure off so that it didn’t have to just be conversation about each other. We were able to bowl and have some fun.

We ended up playing 3 games, which took a while, so we didn’t do any of the other activities, just because by then, we’d been there almost 3 hours at that point, but I definitely feel like that’s the perfect setting for a first date.

Emmanuel: I think it was definitely a good meet in the middle. We actually ate first, and I think that kind of gave us the opportunity to sit down and talk and get to know each other. We did end up playing bowling, and that was more of an ‘enjoying each other’s company’ kind of feeling and less, you know, just ‘asking each other questions back and forth’ kind of deal.

We just played bowling. I won [laughs].


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

Alison: He was super friendly, and had an interesting background. He’s from the Philippines and moved to South Carolina and went to College of Charleston and USC, and I went to Clemson, so we had some commonalities there. I think it probably took the whole dinner, kind of, to break the ice. I felt like if I wasn’t always asking questions, there might be an awkward silence, so I kind of kept the conversation going. But he was really kind and a gentleman, and I could tell he was interested in finding out more about me and was maybe just a little slower to come out of his shell.

I wouldn’t say chemistry in a relationship kind of way, but just friends. He was the youngest of his family and so was I, so we found commonalities to talk about and talked a lot about work, too.

Emmanuel: From my perspective, yes, it was definitely a good time. We kind of went through the gamut of your basic first date questions. From my end, there definitely was slight chemistry. She was easy going and I found her fun to hang out with, so, again, being the first date, you kind of never really know, but I thought that, as far as my end goes, I had fun hanging out with her.

How did you leave it?

Alison: We closed out the tabs and he asked for my number, and I gave it to him. He ended up texting me the next day to ask for the pictures we had taken at the bowling alley. We’ve exchanged a few texts back and forth – he had a question about yoga that I answered for him, but I don’t know that there’ll be a second date necessarily, unless I ran into him or it was a group of friends or something.

Emmanuel: We actually exchanged numbers. I had brunch with my sister and her husband the next day, and they were kind of curious, so I had her text me the pictures we had taken the night before. We’ve exchanged a few text messages, but haven’t really set anything up to meet again, but I feel like I would. I’m actually about to go into a little bit of a stretch with work, but definitely, I plan on reaching out to her.

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

Alison: I’ll just give the whole thing, in general, a 4. I mean, just the lack of chemistry, I think, but still, he’s an awesome person, super friendly, but it’s not something that I necessarily see pursuing outside of a friendship.

Emmanuel: I think, overall, I’d probably rate it maybe a 4. I feel that that type of date allowed us to get to know each other fairly easily and as far as she goes, her company was great.

I think the only reason I wouldn’t rate it a 5 is just that I guess my nerves kind of got to me a little bit more. I don’t know, it’s just one of those things that I feel that, as far as first dates go, there could’ve been some stuff that could’ve been better. Funny thing, on the way to to the date – I was a few minutes late – my Uber driver actually had to use the bathroom, so we had to stop by a gas station, so the beginning of the date, along with me cutting myself shaving, I felt like a complete sight, but as the date went on, I definitely felt it got a little easier.

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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