Each week in The Hook-Up, we sent up single readers of The Grid and send them on blind dates around Toronto. Here’s what Christiana and Neil had to say about their date at Marben.
Christiana is a 29-year-old student who lives in Parkdale. She likes to “bike around Toronto Island with a bottle of wine and some friends; go out for food in Chinatown, and to free nights at the AGO; and go to live shows at the Dakota Tavern, the Horseshoe, and Danforth Music Hall.” Christiana says, “I have no filter. I always say what’s on my mind, whether or not you want to hear it.” She can talk to “anyone, anywhere, anytime” and adds, “I’m always up to try new things. New experiences don’t scare me… I’m currently getting my motorcycle licence for the hell of it.”
Neil is a 28-year-old student who lives in Thornhill. He likes “historical museums, having drinks at a jazz lounge, seeking out Toronto concerts, and swimming.” He says, “I’m a bookworm, so I frequent Chapters, Indigo, and used book stores. Most importantly, I’m a comic-book nerd.” Neil describes himself as “approachable, empathetic and honest” and adds, “I feel as though I’m at a point in my life where I’m ready to have a solid and natural relationship with someone.”
Christiana on Neil
“As soon as I walked into the restaurant, I knew that there wasn’t a spark between me and Neil. I don’t have any sort of type, but I just wasn’t attracted to him. Neil was shorter than me and a lot skinnier than what I’m usually attracted to. I was wearing heels, but I am usually more attracted to guys that are a lot taller then me.
“As soon as we started talking, though, I had a blast. We talked a lot about our spontaneous lifestyles. Neil told me about how he moved around a lot as a kid; it was really interesting to hear about his volunteering for two years right after high school. Not a lot of people would do that, and it was refreshing to meet someone who could be so selfless. I told him about how I moved to Toronto, with 500 bucks in my pocket and no job and no place to live. We’re both nomads in a way, never content to stay in one place for too long. Neil asked me a lot of questions, like ‘If you were stranded on a desert island, what would be the three things you would bring?’ My mom was number one. He asked me a couple questions like that. He seemed to take them very seriously; he also asked my top five favourite albums, and I don’t think he was too happy when I tried to add a sixth.
“I ordered a cocktail, because Marben had an amazing selection of cocktails that I wanted to try. Neil ordered a beer and made a comment about how I was going to go over the budget [Editor’s note: the date venue covers the first $100 of the date’s cost] if I kept ordering expensive drinks—I had two—which made me feel uncomfortable, like I was being scolded. I got the feeling that he was being really conscious of not wanting to spend any extra money, which is cool, but I would have paid for my own drinks. I was a little put off by Neil’s lack of manners when it came to ordering and eating. I am by no means a fixture on the bourgeoisie, fine-dining circuit, but I felt uncomfortable with his lack of etiquette.
“We ended up having a lot in common. Music is obviously a huge part of Neil’s life, and when I learned that he had lived in the Bay Area in California, I asked him if he was familiar with ‘hyphy’ music. His face lit up and I think he was surprised to see that someone like me knew what ‘ghost-ride the whip’ meant. He had some hilarious stories of growing up in small-town Maryland, one of which involved being hit in the face with a stripper’s heel, which had me doubled-over laughing. I told him stories about growing up in Vancouver with Woodstock-hippie parents.
“We ended the date having a very animated conversation about early-’90s hip hop, and how we both thought it was the best era for music. I had to leave because I had a birthday party to attend that evening, but I probably would have stayed for another drink. We ended up exchanging numbers. I did have a good time, and it would be fun to hang out again, but I only see a friendship with Neil.”
CHRISTIANA RATES THE DATE (OUT OF 10):
Neil’s manners: 4
Neil’s smile: 7
Neil’s laugh: 8
Neil on Christiana
“I walked into the restaurant along the same lines of the beginning of Eminem’s film 8 Mile when he’s preparing for his first rap battle. Anyway, I digress. Christiana had a very lively and upbeat aura, and a great smile. I was definitely attracted to Christiana; I felt she had a very retro-alternative style a la Zooey Deschanel.
“When we sat down to eat, the flow of conversation seemed to come easily. We dove right into things, and talked about our careers, families, and our similarly spontaneous uprooting from our homes to new city lives, to see what other opportunities are out there in the world. I love the fact we could laugh about where we grew up, and how secluded it was, and how to improvise to have fun in the middle of nowhere. She adapted to the vibe of the conversation and date very smoothly. I would also say that she had a solid sense of self-confidence.
“I really appreciated the fact that Christiana and I shared some musical taste; it was a nice touch that she knew about the hyphy rap-music movement in Northern California, where I lived for while. She knew a good amount about it, which was cool. I wasn’t sure at first, but I thought it would be okay to mention my inner comic-book nerd, and surprisingly enough she went with it, asking me specific questions about comic books and superheroes. I found it cool that she was genuinely engaged and wanted to hear what I had to say.
“After about three drinks, and into the second half of the date, it was smooth sailing. We had gotten into childhood stories, and being awkward teenagers, and it definitely brought on the laughs. We could relate on some levels. I threw down some thought-provoking questions, which I believe she did a good job of answering, and she seemed to be enjoying them. What attracted me to Christiana the most was her bubbly persona. She definitely had a playfulness about her.
“Christiana left for the washroom, and I signaled the waiter to bring the bill so I could see what the damage was; before she came back to the table, I had covered it. I would definitely be down to see Christiana again. I feel her vibe and energetic personality would equal more good times. We exchanged hugs and she gave me her number. She asked me what I was doing for the rest of the weekend, which I saw as a good sign.”
NEIL RATES THE DATE (OUT OF 10):
Christiana’s style: 9
Christiana’s sense of humour: 10
Christiana’s laugh: 9
Special thanks to Marben, 488 Wellington St. W., 416-979-1990. Follow @MarbenResto and Like Facebook.com/MarbenRestaurant.
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