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 Stella and Daniel had to say about their date at Destingo.
Stella is a 30-year-old “burlesque performer, personal trainer, and café staffer” who lives in Bloordale. Her style is “vintage, feminine, with a twist of flower child.” Stella describes herself as “very open-minded, happy, and optimistic. I can be a dreamer. I’m definitely a lover, not a fighter.” She adds, “I’m probably overly sensitive and tend to hold things in when they bother me.” Stella likes to read, dance, and do “anything outside when the weather is nice and warm.” She says, “I need a man who is at least somewhat creative. Someone who believes in love and the magic between people.”
Daniel is a 27-year-old actor who lives in Parkdale. He describes himself as “scrawny” and says one of his worst qualities is his “head hair.” Daniel spends his free time hanging out, playing video games, and watching Netflix. He wants to date a woman with “a sarcastic sense of humour. Some sort of artist. Not a 9-to-5 professional with a lot of money; it would make me feel inadequate.” Daniel also appeared in a previous edition of The Hook-Up.
Stella on Daniel
“Everyone who knows me knows that I am a hopeless romantic, and always keen for an adventure. I was looking at this date as an opportunity for both. So, after plenty of fussing-about to get ready, I was, of course, running a bit late. I arrived at the restaurant after running a few blocks down Queen Street in heels.
“Our introduction was pleasant and easy, and my first impression of Daniel was that he was comfortable and confident. He was dressed casually: jeans, a collared shirt, and a jean jacket. He was a little slight for my type—I generally go for lumberjack size [guys]—but he is handsome with great blue eyes. I wasn’t immediately attracted to him—I really do like a man to be bigger than me—but he’s definitely a good-looking guy, and I thought that the attraction had potential to increase if we hit it off.
“Of course, I made the first faux pas of the date by immediately forgetting his name! I have a bad habit of not registering things when I’m even remotely nervous. I was horribly embarrassed to have to ask his name again right after we sat down. #Facepalm.
“We started by ordering a bottle of wine. He let me do the ordering, which was nice. The conversation flowed nicely. Daniel is an actor—‘obviously’, I thought—and I’m a burlesque performer and CanCan dancer, so we spoke about the struggles of being a performer in Toronto and making ends meet by any means. Well, I tried to speak about that, and found that he hadn’t had an acting gig in a year or so, while I am, very thankfully, in the midst of an incredibly busy performance schedule. I asked him what kind of acting he wanted to do, and he was pretty noncommittal, so I asked what he was working on now and found out, ‘Well, nothing.’ I was hoping that we would be able to connect more on the struggling-artist thing. The lack of passion was definitely a turn-off for me.
“We talked a bit about the history of CanCan, and also about burlesque in Toronto, and he seemed genuinely interested, although I found it strange that he claims to ‘love burlesque,’ but has never been to a show! He also made a few unseemly jokes, like asking if there was an opening for some backstage help—har, har—that I rolled with, but may have offended a more delicate sensibility.
“I can say that, though there was no romantic chemistry for me, there was also nothing bad about spending some time with Daniel. He is open and honest, and he’s got great eyes that definitely seem to be taking in everything you say. Yes, some of his comments can be sharp, but I don’t mind some witty banter.
“The end of the date was a little rushed, since I had to head straight off to rehearsal. After the bottle of wine, our appetizer and two mains, he ordered two—yes, two!—desserts, and I had a scotch. He said I was very Jessica Rabbit for doing this, which I took as a complete compliment. I left him with cash for a generous tip, and I gave him a hug and a genuine ‘thank you’ for his time. No numbers were exchanged; I don’t think either of us felt the need to bother.”
STELLA RATES THE DATE (OUT OF 10):
Daniel’s manners: 5
Daniel’s handshake: 7
Daniel’s laugh: 7
Daniel on Stella
“I was sitting at the table when I saw Stella come walking up. She was absolutely gorgeous. My [next] thought was ‘Oh no, what have I gotten myself into?’ because of how flashy and eccentric she looked. She was made-up brightly with a red flower in her hair, and a white jacket with red cherries all over it. I had an unsettling feeling that she was going to be extremely outgoing but, fortunately, that was not the case. After we were introduced, she took off her jacket to reveal a bright red dress. She was very dressed-up. I was glad I had tucked my shirt in.
“Stella is very, very passionate about burlesque, and is very involved in the Toronto scene. She said she could go on for hours about it, and that’s what she did. I’ve always had a thing for burlesque girls, so I enjoyed hearing all about it, and asked questions accordingly.
“She said she had an interest in getting into commercials and being a background extra for film and television, so I explained how to go about doing that, and what that kind of work is like. I think she appreciated the fact that we are both ‘artists’ [but] I don’t like talking about my work. I always feel that I come off douchey or pretentious saying, ‘I’m an actor.’ I feel almost embarrassed and apologetic to tell people that. Like, who am I to think I can be a successful actor… I feel like I’ll be judged when I tell people that, as I admit, I judge people and think, sarcastically, ‘sure you are’ when people tell me they’re actors.
“Stella and I got along comfortably. She appreciated it when I told her about the lettuce stuck in her teeth, and I appreciated when she told me about the sauce in my beard. However, despite finding her attractive and getting along, I didn’t really have the urge to flirt with her, or even tell her much about myself like I usually would on dates. I didn’t feel any romantic ‘sparks’ going on, and I’m pretty sure she felt the same.
“Stella told me about the podcasts she likes to listen to. Even though I had heard of them, I’ve never listened to them. I [also] got the sense that she likes to go out and drink much more than I do. I think I might be too boring for her.
“For dinner, she ordered a bottle of white wine for us. Pinot something. She asked for my wine opinions, but I’m stupid, so I couldn’t help. For dessert, I couldn’t decide on tiramisu or crème brûlée. Again, because I’m stupid, I thought they were similar dishes. I asked the waiter his opinion, and he brought both. I ate them both myself because Stella doesn’t like dessert and stuff like that. She is sweet enough. So, she ordered scotch.
“Despite having reservations about her [style] initially, it grew on me throughout the date. By the time she was drinking her after-dinner scotch, I thought she looked incredibly classy, and a little intimidating. Just like Jessica Rabbit. She was delighted to hear that.
“After dinner, we had a little hug and she scampered off. We didn’t exchange numbers or even our last names. She had left $20 on the table for a tip. [Editor's note: the first $100 of a Hook-Up date's bill is covered by the restaurant, excluding gratuities.] Since $20 on an $80 bill is already a really good tip, I thought about not contributing since she was already gone, but, for whatever reason, I put down $10 more.
“Perhaps if the date had gone on for longer and more drinks were consumed, more sparks could have crackled. If she somehow tracked me down and asked me out, I would hang out with her again, but I’m not like, howling her name at the moon or anything.”
DANIEL RATES THE DATE (OUT OF 10):
Stella’s style: 7
Stella’s tip-handling: 9
Stella’s hair: 8
Special thanks to Destingo, 741 Queen St. W., 647-748-3113. Follow @destingoTO and Like Facebook.com/destingotoronto.
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