He’s a History major from Indiana who lives for wine and adventure, but just so happens to be a classical pianist. He’s a Bey-crazed senior who hails from Jersey, loves to cook and won’t think twice about drinking that bottle of cooking sherry right off your countertop.
Why Date Lab?
Nick: I had this idea that there was this “hidden gay man” that I had never met on campus and that was, uh, one of the stupidest notions anyone who is gay at a university could ever make because we all know each other and that’s just how the group works. I was also like “this will be fun! It’ll be free food!” I’m so broke so that was a really big plus.
“I had this idea that there was this ‘hidden gay man’ that I had never met on campus…”
Daniel: It just seemed like something fun. I think the dating scene at Duke probably could be a lot stronger, so I thought it’d be a lot of fun to be a part of that. Plus I’m down to 40 food points so this came at a great time.
Nick: I was excited to have a more formalized date. It’s just something that rarely happens. I was hopeful that maybe my date and I would find out something new or like some experience that rarely occurs when you have Shooters and Grindr and other things to just cut the bullshit and get a certain type of end result at times.
Before the Date
Nick: I wasn’t really nervous at all because I’m already SO single and so used to dates just not going my way, so I thought, “What- I can’t lose anything!”
Daniel: I was nervous when I was walking up. I was texting my friend Alexis my stream of consciousness, my nervous thoughts. I got there first, and so every person that walked in of course I was like “This is my date, this is it.”
“I got there first, and so every person that walked in of course I was like “This is my date, this is it.”
Nick: I thought I knew who my date was 100%. He just nails the description from the email you sent out. One of my very close friends in multiple capacities is obsessed with Bey and Betty White, like in the description. He regularly cooks with wine and other things, not sherry specifically, but he’s always chugging the bottle while cooking and is way more chill than the average Duke student.
“…what I gathered from this is that gay people just really fucking like Beyonce and Betty White.”
Daniel: I guess you sent him one of my fun facts about how I like to drink sherry. It’s so cheap! You can get it for like four dollars a bottle. It’s a big bottle.
Nick: My date was not that person, not that person at all! I think what I gathered from this is that gay people just really fucking like Beyonce and Betty White.
Know Each Other?
Daniel: He’s in DTD and a lot of guys from my freshman dorm are in DTD so we knew each other through that. We had hung out a few times I guess. We had actually gone on one date before. It wasn’t bad – just no second date.
Nick: He’s not gonna want this in the interview at all, but we definitely met on Grindr. Like definitely. I’m like 99% sure.
“I hadn’t showered for 48 hours before. “
Daniel: I did laundry just for this.
Nick: I should’ve showered before the date. I hadn’t showered for 48 hours before. I was just studying and watching Netflix for 48 straight hours. And I didn’t have time so I just went like that. It was a terrible move. Got myself in a Netflix hole.
Daniel: I didn’t want to dress too formal, but I didn’t want to dress too casual either. I was a little nervous going with the shorts because I wasn’t sure how fancy the restaurant was going to be. I went with shorts and a button down.
Nick: He looked great. He certainly looked like he had prepared more than me so I was like “Fuck, I really should’ve done a better job.”
“I forget what he was wearing actually, but he looked good. He dressed up for the occasion too.”
Daniel: He had his hair slicked back. I forget what he was wearing actually, but he looked good. He dressed up for the occasion too.
Nick: I think I wore a pair of ripped jeans and these Lebrons. I wanted to go kinda grungy so I wore like a flannel. But that could be complete bullshit. I have no idea.
Daniel: We both just started laughing when he walked in, “Yep, we know each other…we’re friends.” He actually showed up right at 7 o’clock, which was kind of impressive.
Nick: The moment we saw each other we had a double take and we both just burst out laughing. Laughter filled the restaurant. The hostess just stared at us like “what the hell is going on?” We had to explain to her the situation. she was like “okay, crazy people, here’s your table.”
“I went straight for the wine. The moment I got there I would’ve fought for the bottle.”
Nick: I went straight for the wine. The moment I got there I would’ve fought for the bottle. He was driving, so I was like “Great! An opportunity for me to drink the majority of the bottle.”
Daniel: We got a bottle of wine, so that was fun. We got a nice bottle. He would know what it was; he ordered it. It was red.
Nick: Red. Always red. Sangiovese – I think from Tuscany. Tuscan wines are my favorite. I’m a total wino.
Daniel: The pizza was bangin’. We got two pizzas and we split them half and half. He liked my pizza better than his own and I liked his pizza more than my own. I got a spicy lamb and kale pizza and he had gotten a spicy fennel sausage pizza. Everything was very Italian. The crust was on point.
Nick: Toro is one of my favorite places in Durham. I love that restaurant. Using a brick oven is really hard to do, but they actually know how to do it. So the crust is not too soggy, not too hard. Toro has a way of making pretty basic ingredients really robust, so I was excited to try a new pizza off the menu.
“Everything was very Italian. The crust was on point.”
“We were sitting next to an old conservative woman, and I don’t know who was more appalled by everything I had to say – Daniel, or this woman.
Daniel: It was an old friends catching up kind of deal. The conversation was always flowing. We were there for a really long time, like an hour and a half probably. At one point I almost started teaching him how to diagram sentences – when you break down sentences into their parts. This is what happens when the wine gets flowing. Ugh, I’m going to look like such a loser in this article.
Nick: I was just spewing words. I have no idea what I said or didn’t say. We were sitting next to an old conservative woman, and I don’t know who was more appalled by everything I had to say – Daniel, or this woman.
Daniel: His sense of humor is definitely more crude than mine is. He’ll tell a sex joke and I’m like, “Oh no, my ears!”
Nick: I was getting into some kind of sex talk. And I saw in Dan’s face that this was making him uncomfortable, so I said, “Oh I’m just very sex positive. I love talking about sex.” He goes, “Well I’m not, but I’m sex positive, and you’re kind of making me uncomfortable.” So I said, “Well, what if you not talking about it is making me very uncomfortable?” So there was this absurd back-and-forth banter.
Daniel: We had a long conversation about Beyoncé and Lady Gaga. He was more team Gaga; I was more team Beyoncé. But he has the music background on his side so I really didn’t stand a chance in that argument. During the date he stopped the conversation to post a photo on Instagram, and my friends started texting me being like “Did you get matched with ?!?”
Nick: I instagrammed the table at one point. Dan does not like Instagram. That was discussed.
Daniel: At one point we talked about the demonstrations that had happened on campus and what that means in the societal context. We had some different opinions on it, but we agreed to disagree on certain things. Always positive.
“We had a long conversation about Beyoncé and Lady Gaga. He was more team Gaga; I was more team Beyoncé.”
“It sounds superficial and stuff but, really think about it. Heartburn’s a bitch.”
Nick: We talked a lot about why we were not going to get the white cream based sauce. It was a heavy sauce. It would’ve given him heartburn. That’s not okay. That was the heaviest topic we discussed. In the literal and the metaphorical sense. It sounds superficial and stuff but, really think about it. Heartburn’s a bitch. No one likes that.
Daniel: There was a little bit of flirting. I don’t know. We’re friends. I have zero game, so thank you for picking me. I mean I don’t really flirt, or have a flirting style. My style is sitting in my room watching TV.
Nick: I’m incapable of flirting. I just don’t know how. I’m highly confrontational. Daniel will do anything in his power to avoid confrontation. I’m also the kind of person that likes to get to know a person immediately, and in the first 30 minutes start pushing their buttons to get any type of emotional reaction just for my own personal enjoyment. Daniel is not that type of person.
Daniel: He might’ve been flirting more than me? I don’t know, it was fun.
After The Date
Daniel: We were going to go to my friend’s birthday party afterwards, or her half birthday party. We got her half gifts, not full gifts. I got her this case of fruity canned drinks and stole six of them.
Nick: Dan was very persistent about getting half-presents for the birthday girl, and he thought that this was a very good idea. I agreed, I thought that it was very comical, so I got her half a watermelon.
Daniel: We went to the wrong house for the party at first and while we were there my friend was like “Look at these pouches of wine that I have. Do you want one?” so he took a wine pouch and then littered it.
“I got her this case of fruity canned drinks and stole six of them.”
Nick: Dan is a huge environmentalist.
Daniel: I went to pick it up, and he picked it up and littered it again. So then I picked it up and he got upset that I didn’t trust him to throw it away.
“Dan is a huge environmentalist.”
Nick: I am an environmentalist too actually, obscenely
so. I was also borderline belligerently drunk. I was sarcastically tossing the bag, but I made sure to pick it back up each time. Daniel intercepted it, and then was very persistent that I never see the bag again. After that, I decided to head to Devine’s. It was the perfect halfway point. I was at that street Devine’s is on, and he was ready to go down to Clarendon. I really wanted that bag though.
Daniel: Nick actually decided to walk home before we even made it to our friend’s half-birthday party, but I still went. I delivered his gift for him, too. I made him text me to make sure he got home safely, though.
“I’ve never experienced anything like it. I have so much respect for Daniel; he’s a great guy…”
Nick: I don’t think I’ve ever met a human being that was more counter to me than Daniel is, but who I still wanted to be friends with. I’ve never experienced anything like it. I have so much respect for Daniel; he’s a great guy, I have nothing but good things to say. But, wow, we are truly polar opposites. I think there were multiple moments when Daniel would have rather left than sustain the conversation.
Daniel: We’re both very neurotic. We definitely bonded over that. We’re both very intense personalities in that sense. But we both love wine– there’s definitely that commonality between us.
Nick: I love Daniel’s humor. I think it’s hilarious – he loves taking the overly sheltered approach. He’s kind of like the old aunt warning her young nephews to not go outside and spend more than 5 minutes in the sun because they’ll die. He takes that trope to the max, so he hates adventure. I think at one point he said “I hate fun.” I think he said that verbatim. We had a very brief pregame at his room to prepare for the party, and I asked, “why isn’t the music loud?” He said, “I tell my neighbor next door on a biweekly basis to turn his music down, so I can’t be a hypocrite.”
“…we both love wine– there’s definitely that commonality between us.”
Rate the Date
Nick: Absolute 5 out of 5. Because I’m all about winning, I’m a winner. That’s what separates me from the average – I’m kidding. We challenged each other at one point. Daniel said, “Dude, you don’t even get how neurotic I can be.” I said, “Oh I think I can beat you in that field.” And he said, “Well fine, let’s see tonight. Let’s shake on it.” And I objectively won. I think Daniel will rate the date a solid 1, maybe 2.
Daniel: I would say it was a 4, because it was a friend date. It was a lot of fun. We got free wine, which is always a good time. We got free pizza. And who doesn’t like getting wine and pizza for free with their friends?
*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!