Each week in The Hook-Up, we set up single readers of The Grid and send them on blind dates around Toronto. Here’s what Arel and Alyssa had to say about their date at Sotto Voce Wine & Pasta Bar.
Arel is a 26-year-old recreationist and program leader who lives in Scarborough. He describes himself as “multi-talented, ambitious, passionate, optimistic, supportive, friendly, creative, and adventurous,” but says he is “cautious about uncertain [things]… I think too much at times.” Arel likes yoga, art, photography, exploring the city and traveling. He wants to date someone who “knows how to dress, and is unique in their style” and is “confident, intellectual, creative, active and adventurous. A balance of nerd, active, and attractive.”
Alyssa is a 27-year-old copywriter who lives in the Fashion District. She says, “I have a good sense of humour, and always love to laugh. I’m kind and thoughtful.” Alyssa describes herself as “very driven and intelligent” but “can sometimes be judgmental of others—and myself.” She loves “staying active—running and doing yoga—checking out new restaurants, and cooking.” Alyssa wants to date someone “who is ambitious, cares about staying active, and who has a good sense of style.”
Alyssa on Arel
“Arel was already waiting at the table when I arrived; he went for a formal handshake. There wasn’t an initial physical attraction, but I know that can sometimes develop over time. He was well-dressed, [and was wearing] a blazer, jeans, and a tie. He seemed to be very into talking about his own style, as well as complimenting me on mine.
“He was very polite and attentive, [and repeated] the stories I was telling him throughout the night, [seemingly] to prove to me that he was good at remembering every detail. [Also, every] story he shared about relationships or friends focussed on the small details, like hand-writing notes to his friends, and buying little, meaningful gifts for people he cares about. He even told me that for my birthday he would get a spa day for my sister and I. The thought was very sweet, but a little strange for the first time we were meeting each other.
“Arel seemed to be a bit of a romantic. He told me about the ‘most beautiful girl’ he once approached on Queen Street, and described in detail what she was wearing and what she looked like. It was unexpected to hear him share that kind of story with a complete stranger, [especially on] a first date. Luckily, we changed the topic.
“First dates are always a bit weird, especially blind dates. Arel kept mentioning that he thought he was talking too much. He told me several times throughout the date that he thought I was interesting to talk to, and he had a sense of humour, so I felt comfortable. We talked a lot about our jobs, and our interests outside of work. I’m really into cooking, so it was nice talking to him about his brief stint at culinary school. We shared our favourite meals to make; he has an impressive repertoire of recipes. We also shared an interest in being creative.
“[When] I asked the waitress for the bill, Arel mentioned splitting the remaining amount, without hesitation. [Editor’s note: the first $100 of the cost of a Hook-Up is covered by the restaurant.] I was slightly caught off-guard, since it was such a small amount, but I agreed.
“At the end of the date, Arel suggested I find him on Facebook if I wanted to go out with him again. I didn’t want to make it unnecessarily awkward by saying, ‘I don’t think this will work out,’ so when he [also] insisted on putting his number into my phone, I passed it to him.”
ALYSSA RATES THE DATE (OUT OF 10):
Arel’s style: 8
Arel’s sense of humour: 6
Arel’s laugh: 7
Arel on Alyssa
“This was my first blind date. I was excited, but felt calm and composed. I arrived early and introduced myself to the hostess, and picked a seat by the window. Alyssa arrived soon after. She wore a shirt with leather elbow patches, and a pocket-watch necklace, which caught my eye.
“Our conversation was interesting. We had a lot of things in common, which was [unusual]. We talked about where we’re from, what we’ve done, our aspirations and our plans. We talked about food preferences, culinary ideas, creative arts, music, movies, our own families, skating, yoga, and culture.
“The hostess checked up on us and asked us what we wanted. Little did we know, it had been more than 30 minutes since we’d started talking. We laughed about how we hadn’t even looked at the menu, let alone decided what to [eat].
“We also talked about creative projects; I felt comfortable talking to her, and I [told her about] her some of the many things I do on the side, [like] photography and other creative media. Alyssa writes, and used to play piano and hasn’t in a while, so I encouraged her to take it up again. I told her I’m a musician in a band—I’m a drummer and guitarist, as well as a vocalist—and I teach guitar and drums on the weekends.
“We [also] talked about the places and cities in the world we’d like to explore. Alyssa and I both like the great outdoors, hiking, canoeing, and long drives. I was impressed that she was well-travelled and independent.
“Alyssa carried herself well. She was attractive, confident, straightforward, friendly, and she wasn’t shy. She and I share the view that honesty is key. I found her intriguing and interesting.
“The fact that Alyssa and I were really close in age was comforting. She beat me to it: She asked me just as I was about to ask her. I liked how she and I [talked] while meeting each other’s eyes, and being attentive to one another during the conversation.
“As the date was ending, I was a little hesitant to ask for her number, but I gave her my number instead by dialing it into her iPhone. We hugged. I would go out on another date with Alyssa.”
AREL RATES THE DATE (OUT OF 10):
Alyssa’s style: 8 (“comfortable and simple”)
Alyssa’s manners: 9
Alyssa’s laugh: 8
Special thanks to Sotto Voce Wine & Pasta Bar, 595 College St., 416-536-4564. Follow @sottovoce595 and Like Facebook.com/SottoVoceWineAndPastaBar.
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