Best Inexplicably Continuing Feature

Date Lab
Photograph by Darrow Montgomery

The Washington Post is an Amazon Prime-fueled machine these days, built to take on Donald Trump, with no room for metro-level foolishness. The Post Hunt is gone, much to the sadness of softball teams who like to dress in coordinated outfits; the Peeps diorama contest would have died along with it, if this paper hadn’t picked it up.

Somehow, though, one Post relic persists: the Post Magazine’s 11-year-old Date Lab feature. But why?

It’s certainly not because Date Lab succeeds at successfully matching singles. The Date Lab formula remains much the same since it first launched, with desperate singles filling out a questionnaire, then hearing back two years later that they’ve been chosen for inclusion.

Date Lab has inspired some second dates, and even a marriage or two. But mostly there are dinners marked with personality clashes and insincere promises to meet up as friends.

So practice hasn’t exactly made perfect for Date Lab’s matchmakers, who generally produce a strangely positive review of the date, then a promise to text that doesn’t go much further than that.

At least Date Lab continues to find terrible dates that are fun to read for everyone who isn’t stuck making a half-smile. The feature reached one of its all-time highs recently with a date between project analyst Erica and entrepreneur Anda. After wiggling a ring off his date’s finger and wearing it for the next two hours (!), Anda invited himself on her canoeing trip the next weekend (!!) and made her ride with him on a Capital Bikeshare as he pedaled from Logan Circle to Columbia Heights. Their destination, suggested by Anda over the “boring” 14th Street: an IHOP.

On second thought, maybe Date Lab has a reason to exist after all.