Arts Desk

Singer Priska Neely Does Date Lab, Isn’t Traumatized (!)

Last month, Arts Desk talked to D.C.-based singer/songwriter Priska Neely, the BloomBars regular and honey-mustard maven whose “Ode to Condiments” music video was crafted in the dramatic style of Mary J. Blige.

But over the weekend, Neely was under the spotlight for other reasons: She was out on a very public blind date, as one of the victims of Washington Post’s Date Lab. Read the date recap here. Spoiler: It didn’t go that well. We caught up with Neely to delve a bit deeper into what the experience was like.

Washington City Paper: How did you get hooked into doing Date Lab?  Did you have an reservations or hesitation about having a blind date publicly described?

Priska Neely: I applied for Date Lab two years, seven months, and 15 days before the date. I know, because I applied on Jan. 1, 2010. It was basically my only activity for the day. Ha! The application takes a really long time. I don’t really remember what I was thinking back then, but I know that I wanted to do something bold on New Year’s Day. I had no idea it would happen now. I was definitely nervous about having everything published, but I figured that I’d waited so long and I had to see who the guy would be.

WCP: Going into the date, how much time did you put into preparing for it? Was there a photographer with you or did you guys take those snapshots?  Did you pick the place for dinner or did the Washington Post?

PN: I was contacted two days before the date, so I didn’t have that much time to over think it. WaPo chooses the date and the pics are from disposable cameras they provide.

WCP: Have you read some of the (often trollish) comments on the story, or have you chosen to ignore them? If you’ve read them, what’s your reaction to all these people who are getting all riled up about, for instance, your cell phone “rejecting” his text messages?

PN: Since I work in the news business [Neely is a producer for NPR], I’ve seen a lot of ugly online comments and I don’t read them, kind of as a rule. People have been telling me about them and they don’t seem too bad.

As far as my phone goes, it’s a real thing that happens with my sort of ancient “smartphone” (it is actually rather dumb). I have close friends who cannot text me. I can text them, but I don’t get the responses. Other features my phone offers: shutting down if I receive two texts simultaneously, an inability to add new contacts, randomly calling my mom, etc. Annoying and bizarre, but I’M GETTING A NEW PHONE SOON, WORLD! OK?! Haha.

I can however, receive phone calls from the people who can’t text me and I told him that so... yeah... either way.

WCP: What has reaction from your friends and family been?

PN: People have thought it was a pretty good outcome (I mean, not romantically, obviously), but it’s definitely not a horror story like some of them. He was a nice guy. The consensus seems to be that it wasn’t an age match.

WCP: Are you still in touch with this Kerry guy? What did you think of his feedback on the date? What about when he said about he’d date you if he was 28 or 29?

PN: We aren’t in touch anymore. WaPo emailed about a week after the date to ask for the update and we’d only emailed at that point. But a couple days after that, I gave him a call to see if he’d be interested in hanging out again, doing something casual. I left a message. He emailed the next morning to say that he’d decided to “date someone exclusively” over the weekend. So... yeah.

WCP: Did you think that both of you were portrayed fairly in the piece?  Were there any key elements that were left out?

PN: I’m OK with the result. The weird part is that the first section where you brag about yourself and talk about your type comes from your application, which was years ago for me. I guess nothing drastic has changed, but I do wonder if the match would have been different if I’d filled out the application more recently.

WCP: Ultimately, are you glad you did it, at least for the experience? Did you get some good song fodder out of it? If you were to write a song about the date, what do you think the title would be?

PN: I’m fine with how it turned out. Funny you ask about the song. I actually just finished a song that basically summarizes a series of odd dating experiences I’ve had ... I didn’t seek any of them out (I did seek out Date Lab, but so long ago) and they all ended with pretty blah or disappointing results. When I  got the email saying that he was with someone else, I finished the song I was working on. It’s basically a note to the universe that says, “Hey there, I’m good on heartbreak for now.” Not to say that Date Lab cracked my heart in any way—my songs always embellish on my experiences. But, yeah I feel like I need a break from these emotional roller-coasters because I’m happy with my life sans romance. So yeah! I really like the song a lot, and that date helped me finish it, so it’s all good.

I’m also glad that they linked to the condiment song. If that’s the only thing we were able to email about afterward, I guess it’s not the best sign. On the other hand, some fellow condiment fans have been reaching out to me. Anything that brings condiment fans together!

WCP: How do you think the Date Lab date compares to D.C. dating in general?

PN: Uhhh ... Date Lab is nothing like dating in any city. Haha. Even for normal blind dates you get to choose the location and activity and maybe online-stalk the person beforehand ... I had nothing but his first name going in. But, if you can imagine a worst-case scenario and imagine being OK with it, it’s definitely worth a shot.

Photo by Jeff Krentel

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  • md

    priska is not an npr producer. i think she's an editorial assistant.

  • Ally Schweitzer

    @md, Priska Neely tells us she is a producer. Her LinkedIn profile says "editorial assistant," but as anyone in media could tell you, our job descriptions are very, very fluid. "Producer" stands.