Date #1: Patrice Bowman ’15 and Jordan Konell ’15
I sat in the Pierson Common Room, at once browsing Barracuda’s online menu and debating whether to further unbutton my shirt to let my chest hair roam free. I was nervous not just because I was going on a blind date — although this was my first since a shot at JSwipe (“Jewish Tinder”) this past summer — but also because I wasn’t sure of how I would identify my dinner partner. Would she be standing or sitting? Should I wait inside or outside the restaurant? Was I wearing my lucky underwear? What if my episode of chronic nose bleeds in sixth grade was resurrected?
Fifteen minutes later, as the maître d’ directed me towards a couples table in the back of Barracuda, I saw Patrice. During sophomore year, Patrice and I had both been enrolled in “Black Sexuality in Literature and Popular Culture,” exploring the intersection of blackness and sexuality at 9:25 a.m. every Tuesday. Patrice was relatively quiet during the seminar, while I had emerged as the token student who claimed that each book contained at least one phallic symbol.
Upon our re-introduction, we immediately delved into her work as a film studies major. I found this interesting, as I had never met a film studies major before, but I also literally had no idea what to say. I therefore embarked on a catalog of questions about requirements for fulfilling the major, a nervous tangent which I regret. Twenty minutes into the date, Patrice assured me that we were capable of discussing things besides the intricacies of film studies. A silence ensued. Yet one way or another, we got back on the topic of film — this time talking through those nominated for Oscars. We agreed that “Selma” had been snubbed and that the Academy did not adequately appreciate the contributions of people of color.
Soon, a waiter arrived to take our orders. Harkening back to my pre-dinner examination of the menu, I decided to order the crab cake sandwich and a mojito. With Patrice having nixed further discussion of film, which I assume she talks about enough in class, our conversation turned to what it’s like to live in Columbus, Ohio (Patrice’s hometown). At this point, it felt like a good idea to keep our date short and sweet. We seemed to be pulling each other through the conversation, checking off topical boxes so we could get out of Barracuda before the hour normally allocated a meal was up. Sparks simply weren’t flying.
Yet I enjoyed chatting with Patrice, and I will remember our celebratory high five over eating a free meal together. At the end of the date, as we parted ways outside of the Pierson gate, Patrice went for the handshake, and I went for the hug. I’m happy I went for the hug. While our date was a tad awkward at times, it was nice reconnecting with her.
Why did you people vote for me?
I was Bachelorette #4. The one who would title her autobiography, “I’m Not Mad (Yet), I Just Have Resting Bitchface Syndrome.” Who even writes stuff like that? I expected to get only a few ironic votes. But, here I am, writing about my Valentine’s Day blind date.
I arrived at Barracuda Bistro and Bar ten minutes before 6 p.m. As the server led me to a table for two, I took in the restaurant’s low lighting, warm colors, calm chatter and clinking glasses. Once seated, I shook off the snow and practiced not automatically reverting to Resting Bitchface. By the time Blindest Date Bachelor #3 arrived, I had managed to work my face into a “calm deer in the headlights” look.
He was wearing a rumpled plaid shirt and a gray jacket. I was wearing a black dress with white hieroglyphic prints and jingling silver earrings.Well, somebody overdressed. We shook hands.
“Hi! I’m Jordan,” he said.
“Blindest Date?” I asked.
“I’m Patrice! I think we met before.”
Jordan — I mean, Jordan Konell ’15, as copy style would dictate — had taken “Black Sexuality in Literature and Popular Culture” with me during our sophomore year. Yes, I know how that sounds, but you can stop grinning; nothing sexy happened. I didn’t have too many memories of him, except for the fact that he was the only white male in that class.
His first question was an Old Standard: How are you doing?
“Just trying to survive senior year!” I replied, a harried edge to my voice.
He laughed. “I completely understand. It gets so intense.”
His second question, on the other hand, was a Yale Standard: What do you study?
Upon my mentioning that I was a film studies major (with a concentration in Production), we launched into an extended conversation about movies: favorite movies, least favorite movies, film studies courses, film studies professors, the Oscars race. I was happy to hear that he was also rooting for “Selma” to win, even if it was only nominated for two awards.
As much as Jordan loved movies, he told me he was actually double majoring in African American Studies and political science. At this point, I had to acknowledge the pink elephant in the room.
“So, exactly why are you doing Af-Am Studies?”
Jordan replied that he was fascinated by race relations in local politics, particularly in his hometown of Philadelphia. He also just loved studying African-American history and literature.Now that I think about it, that question might have been a bit awkward. If someone likes a subject — no matter who they are — they shouldn’t have to justify themselves. But I was curious.
During the conversation, we received our food. I had ordered an avocado sashimi, two halves of an avocado topped with raw tuna and drizzled with some special sauce. It tasted a lot better than it looked; the avocado was fresh, and the tuna surprisingly flavorful. Good; I didn’t want bad food to mar an otherwise pleasant date.
As the conversation wound down following our meal, we confronted the Inevitable Question: What are you doing after college?
Both being seniors, Jordan and I agreed that we were ready to get away from Yale and move on with our lives.
For Jordan, a Rhodes Scholarship winner, that means studying at Oxford University for two years before hopefully heading to law school to focus on social justice. I, on the other hand, plan on diving headfirst into entertainment journalism and video production. Each of us thought the other’s plans were neat, but I really had to admire Jordan’s goals. They were selfless and devoted to real-world change. Entertainment is mostly the opposite of that.
After about an hour (during which neither of us pulled out our cell phones!), we left to brave the cold outside. Before we went our separate ways, we thanked each other for the fun time out. I reached out to shake hands again.
“Oh, come on!” he said. “We can hug!”
That happened. We split up.
The experience had felt a bit like freshman year all over again: talking to someone new and getting to know them. As a senior, I mostly talk with friends — partially out of convenience, partially out of unease at branching out, which is always a nervous experience. And so was the Blindest Date, at times. But moving out of my comfort zone, even for an hour, was unexpectedly fun and even educational. And the sashimi wasn’t half bad.
Date #2: Will Harlow ’17 and Maddie Adolf ’18
As 6 p.m. approached, I was still desperately combing through my closet, looking for something to wear.
On three separate occasions I glanced longingly at the heap of dirty clothes I had yet to launder, thinking how easy my life would be if I could only wear a pair of pants located within it. Irresistibly easy, in fact. After donning the dirty pants, completing my preppy outfit, I headed to Miya’s Sushi. Trudging through the snow on Elm St., I nervously wondered what to expect and what my date would expect of me.
Upon arriving at Miya’s, I approached the host, who asked me if I had a reservation. I sheepishly replied that I did not know, but that I was meeting someone. His eyes lit up as he deduced that I was on a blind date, and he led me to a table in the back with perfect mood lighting and three appetizers already prepared. It would appear that I was the first of our party to arrive, so I sat down to wait, hoping my date would show up and save me from the embarrassment of figuring out what to do if she did not.
I did not have to wait long, and to my great surprise and relief, the girl I found sitting next to me was smiling and pretty. I think we must have introduced ourselves, but I really don’t remember because ten minutes later, I realized I couldn’t remember her name. Only when she began reflecting on the irony of going to Hebrew school with the last name “Adolf” did I relearn at least part of it.
As we were settling in, the waiter came around to ask about dietary restrictions. Although I technically didn’t have any, I had never eaten sushi before, I didn’t particularly like seafood and I was counting on there being vegetarian options.
I let my date speak first, though. She said she was vegetarian, and the server’s obvious disappointment at this revelation made me keep quiet myself. Anyway, I decided, I wouldn’t mind trying something new on a blind date.
We began to talk about the basics: our academic interests, extracurricular activities and summer plans. I worried about being too boring, but I didn’t really have much else to talk about. We found common ground in a love of Italy and Renaissance art, which provided fodder for conversation until our food arrived, covering the whole expanse of the table. There must have been ten different types of seafood and another ten vegetarian options. We both agreed that the mango sweet potato roll was the best, and I think we were both equally surprised when I tried the jellyfish sushi.
Soon we had polished off our meal, and it was time to part ways. She, being a freshman, lived on Old Campus, while I lived in Calhoun. When she asked me how I was getting home, I shrugged and said I would probably walk. She looked at me hesitantly before deciding that she would just take an Uber. I was pretty tired at this point, and still had hundreds of pages of reading to do, while my date told me she planned on going to a fraternity party. In my bitterness and haste, I forgot to ask for her number or to offer mine.
That might have been for the best. I wouldn’t say we hit it off, and I still didn’t remember her name. She had been entered into Blindest Date by her friends; I had entered for fun. But now I’ve tried sushi, and I have a new Facebook friend.
I was extremely disappointed with my date. Will was great, but this match was a complete and utter failure. I made a list of 10 criteria, and requested that at least seven match. Seven would have been acceptable. Ten out of ten and I would’ve had a ring on my finger by dessert. But two out of ten? That’s kind of pathetic, YDN.
Let’s start with the fact that this guy was kind, attentive, and cared about people other than himself – obviously not a Republican, contrary to what I had requested. He was even willing to give up some of his hard-earned cash for the sake of others (as in, he paid for our date) — an action no self-respecting conservative would ever consider.
He wasn’t a men’s rights activist either. He listened to what I said, let me choose my own food, and even showed me some modicum of respect. You may ask, “What type of activism is he interested in?” Get this: he spends his free time working on a project to give people in Africa access to clean water. Obviously not a keeper. Where’s the misogyny, man? Ugh.
When a girl goes on a date, she wants a guy with that has that special something. A guy with an allure, no, a mystique, that tells you he’s a relaxed dude. A mystique that can really only be conveyed through the proud display of a puka shell necklace. But alas, there was no shell necklace to be found. Thanks Obama.
The list goes on. He was not under 6 feet tall. He didn’t share my love of PDA; not once did he reach across the table to hold my hand. And there was no Nickelback song romantically playing in the background. Everyone knows that date night isn’t complete without angsty post-grunge pop-rock.
Will also did not appear to be a section asshole. He didn’t correct the waiter who accidentally mispronounced his order, nor did he come close to matching the obnoxiousness of kids in my DS lectures. If a latte-sipping, overachieving, pink-whale-sporting, Deerfield Door can get sassier about Herodotus than you can at a waiter, you’re nowhere near meeting criterion number five: “Be a section, no, a lecture asshole.” What the hell?
At least the YDN got one thing right. Will did have some luscious, golden-blonde locks — almost enough to make him the surfer guy I was looking for. Unfortunately, without that extra something (think puka shell necklace), it just didn’t quite “work.” He was also incredibly, disappointingly sober. I doubt he was even on one drug, let alone on “all the drugs,” as set forth in Criterion #8.
Times like these call to mind the wise words my idol and probable soulmate, Chad Kroeger of Nickelback In his classic love ballad, “Midnight Queen” he described me perfectly: “I’m just a pony in my own rodeo.” And this pony will ride solo until the day seven out of her ten criteria are met.