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 Christine and Curtis had to say about their date at The Sultan’s Tent.
Christine is a 23-year-old publicist and writer who lives on the Danforth. She lives in a house with seven other girls—“I call it the Babe Cave”—and describes her style as “unconventionally average.” Christine is ambitious and spontaneous, and says, “I’m picky. What I consider a deal-breaker might not be a big deal to others.” She adds, “I don’t understand dating… I’ve found myself on dates that I didn’t realize were dates.”
Curtis is a 23-year-old journalist and photographer who lives in Etobicoke. He describes his personal style as “timeless, elegant, and diverse” and says that he is “creative, joyful, and ambitious” but can also be “awkward.” He recently went to Iceland for a music festival, and likes “reading, photography, and going to concerts.” Curtis wants to date someone who “loves music and art, enjoys discussing politics, and is active.”
Christine on Curtis
“Our date had been set up for 11 a.m. the day after Valentine’s Day. If my date had anything to do with choosing the time, I might think we were already doomed. I’m not a morning person whatsoever. I woke up a half-hour before I had to leave the house, and decided to dress casually for brunch. I realized I was wearing all black, so I added a little life with a statement necklace.
“I arrived early for the date and just took a walk around the block. I had read previous Hook-Ups where people have seen their date on their way to the date before realizing who they were, so I was looking at everyone with suspicion curiousity. I arrived and saw Curtis standing there. He wasn’t very friendly or warm when I introduced myself to him.
“Brunch is my favourite meal, and I associate it with more casual circumstances, [so] even though this was a first date, I was surprised to see that Curtis was wearing a suit jacket, a tie and a tie clip. I could see him sizing up my outfit. I admitted I had slept in the shirt I was wearing. I also admitted to once having owned a pair of denim sweats and to wearing harem pants on a regular basis. His reaction was hard to read.
“We chatted a bit before ordering, and he asked me straightaway if I liked live music. I never would’ve guessed that Curtis liked hip-hop, so he won some points there. He told me about his online magazine, which was interesting to hear about. I think the most telling part of our date was when the chef brought out a second course. Curtis was wary about it, saying we had just finished a full meal. He’d had two pancakes, but okay… I guess the guy has never heard of second breakfast.
“The more we talked, the more it was clear that Curtis was very sarcastic, which I can appreciate. I’m very sarcastic myself, but I also like to goof around. From our three-hour conversation, which had its lulls, it didn’t seem like Curtis was the type who liked to joke around [without] sarcasm.
“The conversation seemed to turn into a business meeting. I just switched from video journalism to public relations, and it felt like Curtis was asking me for my business plan when I told him I was freelancing. I like to talk about what happens at work, but not so much how I pitch a story. He even scoffed at the amount of Twitter followers I had. Creating social-media plans for companies and brands has become a part of how I make a living, but creating a social-media plan for myself is the last thing I want to do. I take work seriously, but when I’m off the clock I like to have fun, even if that means tweeting about doughnuts and Beyoncé.
“Towards the end, there was a pause in conversation, [in] which Curtis decided to get real. His words. He asked if there was a chance for a second date. I took a few seconds to answer and said I would definitely like to hang out again. The conversation was good enough and we shared a few [laughs] here and there, but all in the name of sarcasm. We had talked a lot about how I prefer meeting someone in person over online dating, because nothing can replace knowing if you have chemistry with a person. I didn’t have the courage to tell him I didn’t feel any chemistry. I don’t think we are a good fit, but I was open to making a friend.
“I didn’t hesitate to take out my wallet [to pay the tip]. [Editor's note: the first $100 of a Hook-Up date's bill is covered by the restaurant, not including the tip.] Curtis was definitely stalling. He even asked what the protocol was, to which I [said] we should tip. The server returned and I gave him a 20 and asked for a 10 back. When the server returned with my change, I asked for the debit machine so Curtis could tip. I would’ve preferred it if Curtis just took care of the tip, especially since he asked for a second date, but it’s not something I will condemn a guy for.”
CHRISTINE RATES THE DATE (OUT OF 10):
Curtis’ style: 6
Curtis’ manners: 8
Curtis’ hair: 6
Curtis on Christine
“Christine had friendly eyes, and was stylishly dressed, yet casual. She joked that she had slept in what she was wearing, which sounded cute and a little dorky.
“I was pretty lost as to what to wear to brunch—in addition to being nervous about going on a blind date—so I took the approach of being over-dressed [rather] than under-dressed, which I think was a safe bet.
“We chatted effortlessly about our jobs, music, Rob Ford, online dating, books, and television. We found that our music tastes are remarkably similar, in that we both love old-school hip-hop, and more contemporary rappers. We both expressed our severe disappointment [in] the Dexter finale, and I told her about the time when I cried during the Six Feet Under finale, which thankfully got a laugh. Christine told me that she’d recently moved to Toronto from Vancouver, which she said was a snap decision. [That] was a bit of a turn-on. It made me wonder where she enjoyed hanging out in the city, and what she has yet to check out.
“She described Vancouver as ‘small’ but beautiful with breathtaking mountainsides, which I compared to my recent trip to Iceland and its beautiful landscape—that allowed us to share our love of travel. She told me about her trips to Vietnam and Australia. I would be interested in hearing more of her travel stories.
“She told me that she was in PR, and I picked her brain about the various aspects of her job, including pitching a client to a talk show and building relationships with media contacts, which I found to be very interesting. I also liked that she was ambitious, in that she expressed her desire to eventually open her own PR firm. I went on about some qualities that I look for in a publicist, and gave some real-world examples, and we seemed to agree on most of them. It was nice to talk to someone in PR who wasn’t trying to pitch me something. Despite the interesting but lengthy talk we had about work, it thankfully didn’t dominate the discussion, and I think the date vibe continued to reverberate throughout the afternoon.
“I was a bit concerned initially that she would be turned off by my sarcastic sense of humour, but she said that she had a similar sense of humour, which put me at ease.
Christine was friendly, easy-going, honest, and could laugh at herself, which I appreciated. Our conversation even touched on local politics, although briefly. It was great, but I didn’t feel that she had any interest in discussing politics further. I would love to get to know her views on social issues.
“We briefly discussed some of our previous online-dating escapades, including some disaster stories, but mostly we were in agreement that people should skip the internet and just meet in person, because that’s where there real connections begin.
“Throughout the date, she played with her hair, often throwing it from shoulder to shoulder. It might have been nerves, but it became distracting as time went on. We talked about tattoos; she has a couple, including a small Hello Kitty one on her wrist, which I thought was cute.
“I would love to see Christine again and swap more travel stories, discuss other bad TV finales, and check out cool things in the city.”
CURTIS RATES THE DATE (OUT OF 10):
Christine’s style: 9
Christine’s laugh: 9
Christine’s hair: 7
Special thanks to The Sultan’s Tent, 49 Front St. E., 416-961-0601. Follow @TheSultansTent and Like Facebook.com/TheSultansTent.
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