Love in the time of Corona is not easy. The word “date” once referred to a shared activity between two people that had the potential of leading to love and/or sex. Now it refers to a Zoom conference between two people while a third, me, frantically tries to figure out how to adjust the settings so I can leave the call without it ending for them, occasionally chiming in with an “I’m so sorry, pretend I’m not here”. To say my expectations for this new format were low would be an understatement–the only thing I knew of that Lila and Sam had in common, besides both being from the DC area, was that they were willing to humor me and try it. But against all odds, after I found the Co-host button and safely removed myself, this date was a huge success! These two interviews were among the most heartwarming moments of my quarantine thus far, and they give me hope for both the future of Romance, and (equally importantly) the future of Grape Blind Dates.
The following interviews have been edited for length and clarity.
What was Sam like?
He was really sweet! It was nice…we had a lot to talk about.
What did you talk about?
Well, we covered all the usual first date topics…we talked about what we studied, we talked about our families, hobbies. He’s home with his parents and two younger brothers. He said he’s Geology and thinking about adding another major in East Asian Studies. He likes to run, plays a lot of music…we looked at his map.
Yeah, he has a big map. It was kind of funny that we were both in our childhood bedrooms. His walls are painted blue and yellow and I’m like, completely surrounded by stuffed animals. So it was definitely a strange setting for a first date. It’s also…afternoon. (Laughing) A date at 3 pm in our childhood bedrooms.
Did you notice any big similarities or differences between the two of you?
I think we had a lot of things to connect over. We talked about growing up in Washington–he lives right near me. We both really like whitewater sports. We’ve both done a lot of traveling and are really into teaching English. We actually had a lot in common. In the back of my mind, just because you’re both from the DC area and because you’re both 3rd years, I was worried there was some huge piece of history between you two that
I was missing–did you know each other before this?
No! And I think that’s such a natural thing to happen at Oberlin anyways, because it’s such a small place. I was half expecting to get on with someone and be like Oh! They’re in 3 of my classes. But yeah, we didn’t know each other at all.
Will there be a second date?
I think so! We sort of ended it saying “hope I see you in person someday soon”. I will say that neither of us proposed another Zoom date.
(Laughing) That’s understandable.
Yeah, we didn’t say let’s do this specific activity again. But we said hopefully over the summer or back at Oberlin we’ll hang out.
How’d it go? I’m sorry it took me such a long time to find that button.
It’s totally okay. I think maybe you felt like it was awkward but it wasn’t that awkward. You guys were very patient. But yeah, the date was really really fun, I had a blast!
Did you notice any big similarities/differences between the two of you?
We had a ton of similarities. It’s tough to say, but I think we had more in common than not. A big part of that is because we grew up in the same area.
Right, you’re both from DC! Do you know if you have any mutual friends?
Oh yeah, we know a bunch of mutual people! I knew a lot of people from her high school, and I know pretty much all the kids who came from her high school to Oberlin, but I didn’t know her. It’s funny how that works.
What else did you talk about?
All the general bases…family, friends, where we’re from, what we’re studying. We talked a lot about traveling, a lot about her experiences around the world–she was studying abroad in Argentina this semester and travels a lot. We talked about how she whitewater kayaks and I was blown away, that’s so cool!
But intermittently–intermittently? I think that’s the right word–there were interjections of our experience with Coronavirus. It wasn’t the center of the conversation but it definitely came up a lot. We kind of unpacked it all near the beginning and then for the rest of the time we referred to it every so often. It was interesting.
Do you think that the fact that now every conversation needs to address Corona made you guys more inclined to talk about heavier/deeper things than you normally would on a first date?
Absolutely. I mean, you can’t escape it. It’s affecting everyone’s life in some way shape or form, it’s taking away something from everyone. The fact that she had to come home from Argentina after 2 weeks–that really sucks. I was just imagining what it would be like to be in Glen Echo right now, where she lives, and it being completely empty.
And how did the fact that it was over zoom change things?
I maybe felt a little more distracted–I’d be like why is that picture crooked? I need to fix it–and then remember I was on Zoom. But that’s not to say it wasn’t, you know, still super engaging and fun. It was great to have a conversation that wasn’t with my family or friends from school. You never really get to talk to new people over Zoom.
Will there be a 2nd date?
I was gonna ask you–I never asked for her number or any way to contact her. Maybe–could I get it from you? Is that weird? Aw! No, not weird at all. I would love to hang out again. I’ll send it to you. Awesome.