Date Lab

Meet Maggie & Winston

She’s a DSG powerhouse with a soft spot for all things Pixar. He’s a nature-loving senior with a serious case of wanderlust. As it turns out, they both love chess. But who will make the first move?

So Why Date Lab?

Maggie: I signed up literally 5 minutes after the application came out. I did it because you feel you know so many people at Duke sometimes, but then you walk around campus and you realize that there are so many people that you haven’t met.

“At Duke, people are afraid of being alone, but they’re also afraid of intimacy”

Winston: I had just been abroad, and the culture there was much more “datey.” In the fall, I was dating this girl from Paris whilst in London, and I loved that. At Duke, people are afraid of being alone, but they’re also afraid of intimacy. I think that’s why people always hook up at places like Shooters, instead of having real conversations.

Maggie: I thought Date Lab would be a cool way to meet someone new. Also, being matched with someone based on the answers that you wrote about yourself—with your fate in the hands of the Date Lab “matchmakers”—is such a reflection of who you really are, and not how you see yourself, which I think is special.

Winston: I figured whoever I was going to be paired up with in a blind date was probably going to be an interesting person. Plus, I needed a reason to procrastinate.

Pre-Date Jitters?

Winston: I was a bit nervous that I would know her. There’s a handful of people at Duke who I don’t like and don’t like me, and I prayed, “Please god! Let her not be one of them!”

Maggie: I told everybody that I was going on this date. I was so excited when I received the email, and I was dying to find out who the guy was. In the email, I was given three facts about my date, so I asked all my friends if they knew anyone that fell under these three facts. But they were the most general facts in the world! They were, “He’s adventurous. He wants someone driven,” so I was out of luck.

“I was so excited … I was dying to find out who the guy was.”

Dress To Impress

“I was also wearing American flag boxers – though Maggie didn’t know that!”

Winston: I’ve learned through living with Chad, my ex-roommate (who happens to be a male model), and through relationships, to never trust my fashion sense. So, I called a girl, and I told her, “Hi, I’m going on a blind date. Help me!” We FaceTimed, I showed her my wardrobe, and she picked everything out. “Those pants, that shirt, those shoes.” In the end, I wore a light blue, button-down Oxford shirt, some well-fitting slacks, loafers… Oh, and fun socks! I was also wearing American flag boxers – though Maggie didn’t know that!

Maggie: I was actually running super late to the date, and I didn’t have time to plan out my outfit. I ended up wearing a tank top, jeans, and a cool leather jacket to make me look trendy.

Winston: She wore a dark skirt, a crème-colored top, and a leather jacket, for which I made fun of her. I told her that my future boss would be this motorcycle chick who wears leather jackets. I told her she should become a dominatrix.

Panic at the Intro!

Maggie: So, it turns out that I got to the restaurant too early. The waiter came up and asked if I wanted to be seated. I asked him,  “What’s less awkward? Being seated or standing?” While we were discussing this, the waiter looked over my shoulder and said, “Oh, I think that’s him!” I turned around, and saw that it was obviously a college student. After seeing him, I panicked. I asked the waiter, Should I go for the handshake, or should I hug?” I didn’t know which was less awkward, but we mutually agreed that I should go for the hug.

“Should I go for the handshake, or should I hug?”

Winston: She didn’t go for the hug.

“She didn’t go for the hug.”

Maggie: I was still in DSG mode from earlier in the afternoon! When he walked in, I froze up and went for the handshake. Immediately afterwards, I knew it was awkward, but I had to commit.

Winston: Actually, she didn’t know this but, right before the date, I completely lost track of time and was in a rush to get ready. I ended up cutting myself while shaving! Cut myself right at the moustache. I literally had one hand holding my face while I was driving to the date, trying to stop the bleeding. So, she shouldn’t have been embarrassed about the impromptu handshake. I mean, my face was bleeding until 30 seconds before meeting her.

Love At First Sight?

Maggie: He was a smiley, genuinely cheerful person. Good body language.

Winston: She was very cute and really vivacious. We got to talking and laughing immediately.

Maggie: The first thing I did before sitting down was mention that I was a vegetarian, so we talked about me being a vegetarian and that’s how our conversation began.

“Good body language.”


The Foodie & The Veggie

Winston: I’ve been to Watts Grocery before, and it’s one of the restaurants in Durham that I love. Every time I’ve been there, the menu changes! The food changes each week based on the ingredients they get from the market.

Maggie: I don’t really remember what my entrée was. There was only one vegetarian option on the menu, and it was labelled “vegetarian,” so I ordered that. I didn’t know what it was when I ate it, but it was fantastic!

“I didn’t want to be that dude who dives into a steak in front of a vegetarian…”

Winston: I had been planning to order the steak, but she said that she didn’t eat red meat. She was a vegetarian and was raised Hindu. I didn’t want to be that dude who dives into a steak in front of a vegetarian, so I got the duck over quinoa with a vegetable side. It was really good.

Maggie: The hard part, however, was picking the dessert—there were eight on the menu! We went back and forth knocking one off the list until there was only one left.

Winston: She eliminated the bread pudding. Not going to lie, I was kind of upset about that, but I remained silent.

Maggie: We ended up splitting a multi-layered raspberry and cream cake.


Firsts & Faves

Maggie: We were the last people to leave the restaurant, so that should give you some indication of how well the conversation went.

Winston: The conversation was flowing. Even after we left the restaurant, I drove her back to Wannamaker Fire Lane, and we sat in my car talking for another hour. We swapped stories about stuff, starting with our dates! Our first ones, our worst ones. We had a lot in common, and we’re both great storytellers.

“We were the last people to leave the restaurant”

Maggie: It’s funny. So, I’m a huge Pixar fan, and when I was talking to my sister in the car ride over, I asked her, “What do I say if we run out of things to talk about and there’s a lull in the conversation?” She said, “Just ask him what his favorite Pixar movie is.” Halfway through the conversation, without me even asking him, he said, “Yeah, my dad was founder of Pixar.” I was like, “No way! What’s your favorite short film?” I told him what mine was, and he said, “Oh yeah! My dad worked on making that short film!” And I died after that.

“We got to the topic of first kisses. Mine was in middle school…”

Winston: We got to the topic of first kisses. Mine was in middle school, and her first kiss was when she was 15. She ended up telling me that she didn’t have a real “teenager life” until collegeshe didn’t drink, go out, or date people until she got to Duke, which is surprising given how sociable she was. Now she’s in a sorority, and the night before our date, she was in the Shooters bus.

Maggie: He has a really funny “first kiss” story. It’s kind of unreal. He was 16 at the time and was working as some sort of EMT helper. He had to puncture the body of a climber who got trapped on the side of a mountain and had to get his uniform doused later because of all the blood. After he attempted to rescue this man and wash the blood from his gear, he chose to go immediately to a ravein his EMT uniform! At the rave, some girl, who he claims was on ecstasy, made out with him, and then walked away. And that was his first kiss. In short, he lost his first kiss to a girl at a rave who was high on ecstasy, whilst in his EMT uniform. I’ll never forget that storyit’s too funny.


The Chemistry (And We Don’t Mean Orgo 2)

Winston: When I first met her, she was super lively, which, for some reason, made me suspect that she could possibly be hiding something—that she could be cunning, manipulative, even a psychopath! But, after talking to her, I discovered that she’s actually a really thoughtful person. She wasn’t doing a million different things with DSG and whatnot because she wants the resume. She’s actually really passionate about them.

Maggie: He was really easy to talk to, very easygoing. I think I am too, which made our conversation a breeze.

Winston: I love traveling and hiking, and so does she. I’ve travelled through Africa quite a few times, and she’s in the African dance group on campus. We’re both pretty weird, eclectic people, which I think made us pretty compatible.

“He was really easy to talk to, very easygoing.”

Maggie: We had more interests in common than we expected we would. It’s funny because, even though we both talked about how we’re both adventurous and outdoorsy, we also talked about how much we both loved chess. I went to chess camp, and he loves playing chess. It was dweeby things like that which were so fun to talk about.


Mixed Messages?

Maggie: I’m as bad at flirting as I am at recognizing flirting. I don’t know if he was flirting with me or not. I don’t think there was much flirting going on, at least from my end.

“We’re both very flirtatious.”

Winston: There was a lot of sarcastic flirting between us. We’re both very flirtatious.

Maggie: I think I was a little mean actually. My sense of humor is a little meaner in general. I take pleasure in making fun of people.

Winston: Her sense of humor is very teasing. Very flirtatiously coy and playful. She likes to take things to the extreme. 

After the Date

Winston: So, after the date, I drove her home. I guess neither of us had any place we had to be, so we talked in my car for some time. Finally, I had to Skype my friend, so we hugged and then split.

Maggie: We were having a nice conversation in his car—and could have talked all night—but I had rowing practice in the morning. We didn’t make out, by the way. Just wanted to clarify that because I told another friend this story saying, “We were talking in his car,” and she asked, “Is that code for you guys making out?

“…could have talked all night…”

Winston: Before she left, we exchanged numbers and we’ve been texting a bit since. I texted her this morning!

Maggie: He did ask for my number at the end of the date, but I still would’ve asked for his if he hadn’t asked for mineI’m a feminist!

“…at the very least, I’d love to have lunch with her.”

Winston: I don’t know what the next thing will be but, at the very least, I’d love to have lunch with her. Yeah, I would love that.

Maggie: I think we’ll definitely hang out again. He has a personality that I really like, very much my type.

Rate the Date

Maggie: I’ve actually given this a lot of thought and, out of five, I would give it a five. My friend told me, “No, obviously give it a 4.5 so that you don’t look desperate.” But, the truth is, I couldn’t think of a reason not to give the date a five. It couldn’t have gone better.

“…as blind dates go, this was a six!”

Winston: As blind dates go, it was a 5. No, as blind dates go, this was a six! I had an absolutely lovely evening getting to know someone that I really like, and nothing went wrong! She’d probably give it a five. I’m pretty confident she’ll give it a five.

Words of Advice

Winston: It’s easy to fall into routines at Duke, stick with the same people and do the same things, because those are safe. But, when you’ve got the chance to go on a date, whether it’s blind or with that cute person you have a crush on, do it!

“They say that 75% of Duke students want to date people, but only 20% of us do.”

Maggie: They say that 75% of Duke students want to date people, but only 20% of us do. This is such a fun and low-key way to try and make that happen. People should sign up. Even if you don’t think you’re going to date that person, you’ll meet someone who you’re compatible with. It’s a great time.

*The contents of these articles are from interviews with actual Duke Date Lab participants. Pseudonyms were created to protect their identities.

Duke Date Lab is modeled after the feature at the Washington Post Magazine. Our team selects promising pairs from our pool of single applicants and sends them out on a blind date. We interview each dater separately the next day. These are the results.

Want to participate? You can apply to Date Lab here. If we find you a match we’ll pay for your evening out!

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