Internet dating has its virtues, but there’s no replicating the awkward thrill of a booze-fueled, face-to-face first encounter. As a social experiment, we approached ten (seemingly) unattached strangers at two pheromonal bars. We sat them down in pairs, recorded their chats, and then called each of them a week later for the lowdown.
Brett Taylor, project manager, and Sophia Wiedeman, comic artist
9:15 p.m. on Saturday, May 7, at Hot Bird
Brett: Where you from?
Sophia: I was born in New York, but I grew up overseas.
Brett: Where overseas?
Sophia: Um, do you want the list?
Brett: Sure, yeah.
Sophia: Germany, Greece, Venezuela, Jamaica, Honduras.
Brett: Wow. How did that work?
Sophia: My parents worked for the State Department.
Brett: Because I really want to, like, do that.
Sophia: You want to raise a shitload of kids overseas?
Brett: Not particularly, I just want to travel a lot.
Sophia: Oh, God. This is going to sound really silly, but, what’s your sign? Are you a Libra, by any chance?
Brett: I think I’m a Pisces. I don’t quite follow astrology.
Sophia: Because it’s bullshit! But I match up very well to my sign. Like, a little too well.
A week later …
Sophia on Brett: He was good-looking but a little babyish. My type is, like, larger guys.
Brett on Sophia: She’s nice, kind of artsy, interesting. But I think I saw her making out later with the tall guy [Robert, page three]. He was strange.
Sophia Heinke, student, and Robert Bell, dining manager
8:38 p.m. at Hot Bird
Robert: What are you doing in Brooklyn tonight?
Sophia: I’m meeting with some friends that are over there.
Robert: That’s beautiful. Friends and possibilities!
Sophia: I mean, they are a couple, and I’m just their friend.
Robert: Well, the friend always has more opportunities.
Sophia: Ah, okay.
Robert: So, Sophia, do you have a boyfriend? Girlfriend?
Sophia: No, I don’t.
Robert: Well, that’s a terrible loss. Let me give you a kiss on both cheeks, yes?
Robert: Yes, come here. Okay, good. What actually motivates you? What is the engine of emotionality that brings you to this moment right now? Are you interested in being alive?
Sophia: I’m interested in being with my two friends over there.
A week later …
Sophia on Robert: He was a little bit drunk, and I was not. So that was a little bit weird. He kind of came a little too close. He was a bit overwhelming.
Robert on Sophia: She was fantastic.
Diana Ebanks, marketing manager, and Robbie Tanis-Evon, sales associate
8:39 p.m. at Southern Hospitality
Robbie: I like your dress.
Diana: Thanks. It’s, um, really comfortable.
Robbie: It’s terribly cute.
Diana: What are you doing here?
Robbie: Celebrating a friend’s birthday. What about you?
Diana: Ladies’ night out.
Robbie: Looks like trouble, if you ask me.
Diana: It is trouble. Once a week. At least.
Robbie: Are you going out to the beach this weekend?
Diana: I’m going to the Bahamas next week.
Robbie: Shut up!
Diana: So I went bathing-suit shopping this weekend.
Robbie: What’d you find? A bikini?
Diana: Nothing so far!
Robbie: What’s your plan B? Topless?
Diana: J.Crew is my backup plan.
Robbie: I would say go for topless.
Diana: What happens in the Bahamas stays in the Bahamas.
Robbie: Well, you hope!
A week later …
Robbie on Diana: She’s a sweet gal, but I’ve been with my boyfriend for 21 years. She’d be a great gal to go on vacation with.
Diana on Robbie: I loved him! When it’s the right time, I hope I end up with someone like Robbie—but straight.
Brandon Nelson and Ali George, both lawyers
10:58 p.m. at Hot Bird
Brandon: So, how’d you guys end up here?
Ali: Well, I live on the Upper West Side, but my friend Tom lives out here in Brooklyn.
Brandon: “Out here!” So you feel like it’s going to Connecticut, basically. You probably took a car, didn’t you?
Brandon: You totally did!
Ali: I don’t like how you’re portraying Manhattan. This is terrible!
Brandon: Convince me otherwise! How many times have you been to Brooklyn?
Ali: This is my sixth time.
Brandon: So let’s talk about the first five.
Ali: Well, I’m from Maine. And maybe that’s why I find Brooklyn appealing—it’s a little more residential.
Brandon: Do you have a kid?
Brandon: Do you want one?
Brandon: Then why are we talking?
Ali: I don’t know! I think I’m going to go to the bathroom!
A week later …
Ali on Brandon: Physically, he could be my type, but he wanted to portray me as this snob. I was like, Are we fighting already?
Brandon on Ali: It’s just fun to make fun of Manhattan. But she had a good energy. She’s a pretty girl.