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 Catherine and Matthew had to say about their date at El Caballito.
Catherine is a 23-year-old intern at a media company who lives in the Junction. She describes her style as “somewhere between indie-dressy, [like] Zooey Deschanel, and indie-casual: warm flannel comfort.” Catherine, who recently returned to Toronto after living in the U.K., says her best qualities are being a good listener, being “big-hearted,” and her sense of humour; she says her worst qualities are “shying away from the limelight, and over-analyzing things.” Catherine likes to “watch live music, write in a coffee shop, sing and learn guitar.” She wants to date someone who is “down-to-earth; appreciates music, the arts, discussing ideas and philosophy; and is older than me.”
Matthew is a 24-year-old graphics editor who lives in Brockton Village. He describes himself as “funny; a social people-person; an active listener” as well as “talented, intelligent, gifted, and creative… I’m really invested in my work.” Matthew also says, “when I’m not interested in something, I totally tune out” and that he is “kind of disorganized, since I plan so much for myself.” Matthew loves music, travelling, food, and beer: “I actually want to start brewing and potentially open my own community-oriented brewpub/restaurant/art space someday.” Matthew wants to date someone who is “creative, warm, social, smart, a traveller, and a pop-culture aficionado, with kind of an off-beat sense of humour.” Matthew also appeared in a previous edition of The Hook-Up.
Catherine on Matthew
“Matt and I walked into the venue virtually together, and I realized that he had taken the same train as me to the restaurant—I recognized his bright red-orange hat and olive-green headphones from the journey over. He made a good impression from the get-go: He pushed past my awkward attempt at a handshake and went for a hug. He was attractive, outgoing, and had a fresh sense of humour. His outfit was fitting for a casual first date—a three-quarter-sleeve grey shirt and black jeans—and he had nice dark hair.
“He didn’t totally match the ‘type’ I had narrowly described in my [Hook-Up] application, but this was a good thing—Matt checked a lot of boxes that really mattered. He was upbeat, level-headed, and excited to talk about big ideas; we had a lot of random, lofty [discussions] about life, and a bit about philosophy… and that was part of what I had described as my type.
“Being at a Mexican place and unable to decipher most of the drink names on the menu, we stuck with margaritas to start. We shared chips with salsa before ordering our mains. Matthew told me about growing up in Michigan, and how he managed to make a transition into a career in graphic design. As he told me more about his work, I could definitely sense how passionate he is about his career. When I had to talk about my own work, I felt kind of self-conscious, being a lowly intern at a media company. It felt like my work experience wouldn’t really measure up. Luckily, those worries subsided as we delved into a thoughtful discussion about living in the moment, and how important it is to enjoy whatever opportunity is thrown at you. It kind of put everything nicely in perspective.
“I became conscious of settling into my standard question-asking mode, but Matt still swung the questions back to me, which was refreshing. He asked questions about my family, my influences growing up, and my experiences living abroad. He really made an effort to hear as much about me as he shared about himself; it is so easy for daters to fall into either the talker or listener category on a first date. Music definitely seemed to be a major common ground for us. Our influences were quite different—Matt played in punk bands, and I sang in classical choirs—but we both recognize how central music was in shaping our lives.
“I loved that Matt was so excited about the work that he does, but he was also so enthusiastic about his hobbies and his life outside of work. It was so nice that we could laugh about random things, then totally switch gears to discussing interesting ideas and thoughts.
“At the end of the night, we decided to exchange numbers. We actually had to check that we remembered each other’s name correctly… I was so glad I wasn’t the only one with a bad memory for names. Then we kissed—definitely a nice way to end the evening—and we each went on our way. It would be great to meet up with Matt again to see how a second date would go.”
CATHERINE RATES THE DATE (OUT OF 10):
Matthew’s hug: 9
Matthew’s manners: 9
Matthew’s laugh: 9
Matthew on Catherine
“Catherine was actually standing in the doorway when I walked in, though I didn’t initially know it was her I was on the date with. Turns out we were on the same subway, too! I thought she was cute when I first saw her—long brown hair, well-dressed, pretty face—and then I realized she was also there for the date. She has really pretty blue-green eyes and a great smile. I was attracted to her initially, and even more so as the date went on.
“We both admittedly did not really know what we were eating for a good bit of the date, which the waitress thankfully clarified for us, but it was cool to notice that Catherine was open to trying whatever they recommended. We discussed everything from family to travelling to religion, which was great. I actually checked the time at one point when she was [away from the table] and was surprised to see that three hours had already gone by! Always a good sign.
“Catherine is smart, considerate, and a great conversationalist. She asked a lot of interesting questions, and we were on the same page in terms of a lot of ‘life philosophy’ stuff. We both understand the importance of mindfulness and kind of just enjoying the moment you’re in at any given point. She’s pretty well-spoken, and seems to ‘get it.’
“I think we got to know each other relatively well for a first date; we didn’t mind asking each other some personal questions. Nothing over the course of the evening was really awkward or uncomfortable, including the little blips of quiet in the conversation, which is telling when you’re on a date with someone who you’ve never met before. We did steer the conversation back to job-related stuff a fair bit, but I think that is bound to happen when you’re in the midst of trying to figure out how to spend the majority of your week.
“When we talked about music, she seemed enthusiastic about it in a way that told me it means something special to her. I was really into the fact that she both sings in a choir and wants to work with kids and music in the future. I have a tendency to chat folks’ heads off sometimes—what can I say?—but she didn’t seem to mind; in fact, she was genuinely interested in learning more about what I was telling her. She had a lot of really interesting opinions to share, and was sometimes like, ‘Oh, what the heck am I saying?!’ which I found kind of adorable.
“At the end of the date, we split the tip, traded numbers, and kissed, which was awesome. It was [a] long [kiss]; we made out. We actually both had to remind each other of our names, which we thought was kind of funny. Kinda goofy how something as simple as that can escape you even when you’ve been learning a bunch about each other for a few hours. I also realized at one point that my hair was kind of mussed up from my toque the entire time, which I had a good laugh over after the date. I’m looking forward to seeing her again soon!”
MATTHEW RATES THE DATE (OUT OF 10):
Catherine’s hug: 9 (“It was good! Some people are weirded out by first-date hugs, but she wasn’t.”)
Catherine’s style: 9
Catherine’s laugh: 9
Special thanks to El Caballito, 220 King St. W., 416-628-9838. Follow @elcaballito220 and Like Facebook.com/elcaballito220.
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