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 Nadja and Rory had to say about their date at the Gladstone Hotel’s Café.
Nadja is a 22-year-old landscape-architecture student and intern “at a firm that designs theme parks” who lives in Roncesvalles. She describes her style as “design chic meets biker babe—I wear a lot of black” and herself as talkative, opinionated, intelligent, and determined. Nadja likes to “read, bike, and hang out in parks.” She recently built a custom road bike from scratch. Nadja’s type of guy is artistic and “preferably not [in] a standard nine-to-five job,” open-minded, funny, “confident, and HAPPY” and wears “denim, plaid, and black clothing” and is “tall and fit but not hugely muscular.”
Rory is a 27-year-old bartender and server who lives in Little Italy. Rory says, “I like to think my humour is one of my best qualities. I try to make light of most situations, for myself and for those around me.” He adds, “I have a generous, small-town attitude. The greatest good for the greatest number is always ideal.” Rory says that he tends to “call bullshit in social settings. Someone else might let it slide, but I often find myself being the guy to say, ‘Really?’ instead of ‘That’s cool!’ at the end of someone’s story.” Rory likes to watch sports, “post pictures of my cat to Instagram” and “share drinks and laughs at my local.” Rory also appeared in The Grid’s special Dating Diaries Issue last February.
Nadja on Rory
“I arrived at the Gladstone about 15 minutes early, which is unheard of for me. I saw Rory come through the door and head toward the front desk, so I introduced myself and we shook hands. He has a great smile and was dressed well for a first date: not too formal, yet not sloppy. He’s cute, but I didn’t find myself attracted to him in a physical sense. His style was fine, but I would have been more attracted to him if it was a bit edgier: more black, [and] more rock ‘n’ roll, as cheesy as that sounds.
“Immediately, we started joking and laughing with one another. We joked about the possibility of either getting married, or crashing the wedding taking place in the Ballroom.
“There was no beer menu on our table, only a wine and cocktail list, and Rory seemed surprised that I was going to order a pint. ‘You’re sure you don’t want an—uh—‘Cinnamon Toast?’ he joked, reading from the cocktail menu. ‘Nah, I think I’ll have a bottle of the house red—no glass, just uncorked with a bendy straw,’ I replied from behind the wine list.
“We both ordered beers, and we opted to share a meat-and-cheese plate. I really love the culinary scene that’s been exploding in Toronto, so I was a bit disappointed to hear that Rory didn’t consider himself a foodie, and that this was his first time ever eating charcuterie! However, I really liked that we ordered a shared starter; it made the date seem less formal and scripted, given that we were both grabbing at the cured meats with our fingers. I didn’t feel nervous or on-guard at all around Rory.
“Rory bartends and tours with a band for a living, which is really neat and very ‘twentysomething,’ however, I’m ideally looking for someone with a bit more of a long-term goal or dream that they’re chasing. He definitely likes what he does, and he likes the freedom it gives him and his schedule. He seems happy with what he’s got going on right now. It’s great, and it’s what he wants… I think people should do what makes them happy! But, for me, I think about what bartending and touring with a band looks like when you’re in your thirties, your forties, or beyond. If I’m going to date someone, I want to be able to think about the possibility of a future that fits with what I want my life to look like. If you know your lives aren’t going to mesh in five or 10 or 20 years, what’s the point of getting into a committed relationship?
“I do appreciate that Rory seemed interested when I babbled on about my work, for probably too long. Not many people know what landscape architecture is, and he listened, asked questions and appeared intrigued.
“After sharing our starter, we opted to share a main and buy more drinks instead of each eating a full entrée. We split the ‘Tower Strip,’ which is a steak with smashed potatoes and kale. Rory likes his steak medium-rare, which is usually my go-to for steak, so that worked out perfectly.
“About an hour into the date [was] Earth Hour, so all the overhead lights were turned off and we ended up eating by candlelight. I guess it was pretty romantic ambiance for a first date, but our conversation stayed light. There were helium balloons [as part of a birthday party] with the number ’31,’ which turned into ‘13’ when someone bumped into them. We joked that 31 is a weird year to celebrate so formally; eventually, the birthday party caught us looking in their direction and loudly offered us cake—we were busted! We politely declined and laughed about our people-watching being [discovered]. We moved on to talk about our mutual fear of horror movies, and whether or not we could cry on command.
“We ended our date with a shot of tequila and a swapping of numbers. We split the bill evenly, and Rory initiated the contact exchange by sliding his phone over to me to input my information. He’s someone I wouldn’t mind hanging out with again as a friend, but I don’t see a relationship on the horizon.”
NADJA RATES THE DATE (OUT OF 10):
Rory’s style: 7
Rory’s tip handling: 10
Rory’s laugh: 8
Rory on Nadja
“I arrived at the Gladstone and saw Nadja asking the receptionist about our reservation. The first thing I noticed was her hair: a big beehive of blonde dreads sat upon her head. She turned around to face me and we made our introductions. She was lovely and soft-spoken.
“I was a little hesitant because of the dreads. It’s just a hairstyle, I know. She discussed her choice to have them, [and] contrary to what I assume about most people with dreads, it’s not a Rastafarian or hippie-urbanite thing. She has incredibly curly hair and it sort of happened through laziness. I got the feeling Nadja liked the attention her dreads garnered. She has a noticeable confidence about her, one that couldn’t be phased by someone not liking her hair.
“We were seated at a small, candlelit table. We each ordered a beer. I was very interested in Nadja’s work. She’s a landscape architect, which had to be explained to me. Nadja’s a very intelligent girl, and explained her field with detail and passion. I was impressed by her ability to convey the importance and relevance of her work to someone who had never heard of the job before. It wasn’t as hard for me to [explain] my work. I serve beer and tour with a band.
“Nadja hasn’t done much travelling, so I enjoyed being the worldly one at the table. It doesn’t happen very often. She told me about her biggest adventure, a trip to Iceland [she took] alone. She didn’t book ahead, and hitchhiked most of the way [in Iceland]. All of a sudden I wasn’t as worldly as I thought.
“We shared a charcuterie platter and a steak dinner. We joked about how Nadja didn’t look like the type to order a steak for dinner. I had asked if she ate meat when I saw the meat and cheese section of the menu; she just raised her eyebrow at me, as if to say, ‘Are you kidding?’ She said that she’s usually pegged as a gluten-free vegan. Then we ate a bunch of meat.
“We talked a lot about our childhoods. Nadja insisted that she had ugly-duckling syndrome growing up, which I found hard to believe. She kept calling herself ugly and nerdy. Not the case anymore, I reassured her. She is very well-spoken, so maybe the nerdy part still rings true. It was nice to speak to someone as intelligent and confident as Nadja, even if her confidence is newfound. It made her all the more attractive. Nadja is a very smart and pretty girl. She [also] has a level of maturity that is beyond her age. I was surprised to hear I was five years her senior, since I felt like the one displaying more nerves throughout the night.
“It was Earth Hour that night, so our romantic little table became even more so when the server turned off the lights in our section. A 31st birthday party was happening at the table next to us, and [someone] complained about the darkness. This obviously started a line of jokes at their expense. Who has a 31st birthday party, anyway? We may have been [talking about] that table too much, because they ended up offering us some of their cake.
“When it came time, we asked our server for the bill. She said we were still under our limit. [Editor’s note: the first $100 of a Hook-Up date’s bill is covered by the restaurant.] It was enough for a couple shots, she informed us. Tequila, please!
“We drank our shots, laid down a nice tip, and Nadja started to get ready to leave. I asked her if she’d like to exchange numbers and hang out again. She said yes. We definitely enjoyed each other’s company; the date was a success. That being said, I’m not sure either of us felt a huge connection physically. Our conversation was stimulating, and it was very refreshing to speak with a well-spoken, educated woman, but I felt more mutual respect than mutual lust.”
RORY RATES THE DATE (OUT OF 10):
Nadja’s style: 7
Nadja’s tip handling: 9
Special thanks to the Gladstone Hotel Café, 1214 Queen St.W., 416-531-4635 x 7106. Follow @GladstoneHotel and Like Facebook.com/gladstonehoteltoronto. Stay the night in any one of the 37 different artist-designed hotel rooms, with prices starting at $179/night.
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