Six Yalies agree to be set up on a blind date. Five show up for dinner. Scene watches as the dates unfold and discovers why even some of the best looking Yalies are single.
Yale’s weakest department is not Electrical Engineering after all, but it might as well be, considering the lack of sparks flying around campus these days. If romance isn’t dead at Yale, then it is waning. But let’s be honest. We’re good-looking people with great heads on our shoulders. What’s the big holdup? Why can’t we find someone?
This is obviously a job for a professional. While we might not be Dorie Clark (see below), in honor of Valentine’s Day, scene has engineered an experiment in hopes of jump-starting six lucky Yalies’ love lives. Maybe, just maybe, by getting to watch couples in action we can pinpoint where it is that things go wrong. Scene combed through countless candidates to engineer three blind dates with a diligence that would do even Cupid proud. After herding the lucky contestants into Pad Thai for an all-expense paid night of romance, we stepped back to let the magic happen. That’s right, we did all the dirty work, and we wanted results. We wanted to prove once and for all that love can survive in New Haven.
It’s 7 p.m., the official starting point of our blind date night, and three of the six participants have trickled in the door of Pad Thai.
Della Deme ’04: She’s a tall, olive-skinned knockout in brown slacks and a coffee-colored sweater. She told me earlier that she wasn’t nervous about the evening, but she was just looking forward to meeting a guy who is funny and chatty.
Ralph “RT” Byrd ’05: He’s sporting cargos and a buttondown, and admits that he’s looking for a girl who talks a lot so he doesn’t have to do the talking.
Courtney Williams ’03: He’s slim and stylish, but his best accessory is his smile. He says he’s partial to glamorous men with a sense of style. But, as long as the guy is confident and mature, it’s sure to be a fun evening.
As the three awkwardly converse and check their watches, the next two trickle in.
Shannon Gulliver ’04: She’s got kinky blonde hair and a funky sense of style, and says she’s “looking for someone who can just chill. What’s the point of being nervous?”
Nate Kirk ’02: He’s tall, slim, and dressed in dark jeans and a buttondown. He’s mainly concerned with finding a girl who is “laid-back, but is interested in sports or other active things.” (What do you mean by that, Nate Kirk?)
As Byrd pairs off with Gulliver and Deme with Kirk, Williams takes to his table solo. His date is late, by 10 minutes at this point.
7:10 — As RT eases back confidently in his chair, at the next table, Della gives Nate a trademark grin. Courtney, on the other hand, studies his menu in silence. He’s ticked off. Who wouldn’t be?
7:18 — Della and Nate argue over which of them can pack away more Thai food in one sitting, and then guess each other’s height. I cross my fingers for Nate that he will win in both categories.
7:20 — Shannon strokes her chin and plays with her hair, which some psychiatrists say is a sign of sexuality. On the other hand, some people say it’s a nervous habit. Who knows? Not RT, from the looks of things.
7:25 — Courtney’s date is still missing in action, and we have officially considered him a no-show. This proves that men are creeps. But, hey, Courtney looks forward to enjoying a free dinner nonetheless. (Editor’s Note: Courtney’s date, Tom Wiesner ’02 got “ill” in New York and only arrived back in New Haven Thursday morning. He would have been lucky to go out with Courtney.)
7:30 — Della orders for the table — the sign either of a liberated woman or a hesitant man.
To get a better feel for things, I decide to drop in on the couples after their first 20 minutes together. First, I ask Della and Nate, “What is the most interesting thing you’ve learned about each other so far?” For Nate, it is that Della is double-majoring in political science and art. Della was shocked to find out that Nate didn’t get his driver’s license until age 21. Also, they admitted to discovering that they are both athletes.
I worry that this date is rapidly approaching “Buddyville” as I head over to chat with RT and Shannon. Turns out they’ve discovered that they have both raised livestock at some point in their lives! Also, they both hated microeconomics. What stimulating conversation. I’m a little shocked — livestock? How did that come up?
7:37 — Della and Nate talk about driving mishaps, colleges, and guess what movie each saw last. Della admits she is a hazard to pedestrians, and I notice that they’ve talked so much that they’ve barely had a chance to eat.
7:40 — Despite an awkward pause or two along the way, RT and Shannon seem to be keeping up the flow of conversation.
It’s time for a check-in. This time, I ask each of the four how they would describe their date in one word.
RT: “She’s hot.” (A bold move on RT’s part, setting all his cards on the table. Will it score points?)
Shannon: “He’s– intriguing.” (Ouch. Not quite what RT was looking for.)
Della: “Nate is sweet.” (Not so much like “Sugar Daddy” sweet as “I’ll never date you but I’ll tell you about all my hookups” sweet).
Nate: “Della is engaging.” (–?).
As the night wears on, the couples seem to have no lack of conversation topics, which range from high school to life at Yale, to– well, apparently, livestock. All four are nothing but smiles, but it seems like something is missing. Won’t someone please grab someone else’s knee under the table? Where are all the sexual double-entendres? These kids are hot — hand-picked and tested by the Yale Daily News — but it’s still pretty obvious by an hour into things that no one is biting.
When I attempt a post-date wrap-up at 8:45, my worst fears are confirmed. The responses of all four sexy singles are practically interchangeable: He/she was nice and good-looking; I’d go out with him/her again– as a friend; On a scale of 1-10, I’d give this date a 5.
Where’s the blushing? The stupid grins? Why aren’t people exchanging numbers or sneaking out the back together? As I pack my things and throw on my coat, I begin to resign myself to the fact that people don’t want to date. People don’t want to put themselves out there — besides RT — and take a temporary risk of failure for a potential reward of some hot, undergraduate loving. It’s so much safer just to be friends.