Kernel in Love

Lauren Zahrn and Collin O’Donnell talk while looking at the menu during their blind date on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019, at Puccini’s in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Arden Barnes | Staff

Kernel Staff

For the first time in Kernel history (that we know of), Kernel staffers are playing matchmaker. We opened applications to all UK students who wanted to shoot their shot at love.

Each applicant filled out a questionnaire; some of their answers are featured in their profiles below. Out of 32 applications (22 women, 10 men), our social media manager Makenna Theissen chose and matched four participants.

On Feb. 5, 2019, each couple had their blind date at Puccini’s, courtesy of the Kernel. Before walking into the restaurant, each participant knew only the first name of his or her date.

While they may not have found love, the participants did have an experience that, many of them said, is rare in today’s social media-crazed society: a true blind date.

Lauren & Collin

Why did you apply?

Lauren: …I was like ‘Oh that might be fun.’ And I just haven’t really been in the dating scene lately and so I kind of just filled out the application, not really thinking anything of it. Maybe it will happen, maybe it won’t.

Collin: I signed up for it just as like a shot in the dark… I said screw it, I’ll give it a shot, I doubt I’ll get picked, we’ll see what happens, and then sure enough I got picked.

What did your friends think when you told them you were going on a blind date?

Lauren: When I told my friends, they were like ‘You have to do it,’ even when I second-guessed the situation, I was like, ‘Should I really be doing this?’ but they hyped me up, they thought it would be cool.

Collin: I told my roommates, and my roommates were just like ‘What?’ and I’m like ‘Dude, I’m just going to roll with it, have fun,’ and he was like ‘Alright get your free meal, we’re going to go to the restaurant and follow you and watch you.’

Have you a bad first date in the past?

Lauren: I went to go get ice cream with this guy. The whole time he just talked about himself, so that wasn’t very fun. The only question he asked me about myself was ‘What’s your craziest partying story?’ Which I just thought was ridiculous because what does that really tell about me? At the end of it he serenaded me on our car ride home and that was really weird.

Collin: …The restaurant I picked, she said, ‘Oh I hope you’re not taking me here.’ And then I had to skirt out of that restaurant and pretend to go to a gas station and pretend to fill up my car and then find another restaurant that was nearby.

Before the date began…

Lauren: I got here a little early, I had to pee but I didn’t want to go in here because I didn’t know if I was allowed to come in here yet, so I went next door to the Smoke Shop, and I went in there and I was like, “Okay, I have to pee, I don’t need to buy anything, but I just need to use your bathroom because I’m going on a blind date and I’m freaking out, she was like oh go ahead I’ve been in your shoes before, so I went back to the bathroom and came out and she gave me a pep talk, about, I was going to do great, I seem like a nice young lady, and I was on my way back to my car, and then I jammed out for a little bit.

Collin: The date was supposed to begin at the Puccini’s in the Hamburg area at 6 p.m. Collin and his assigned Kernel photographer arrived at the Puccini’s in Chevy Chase at 5:52 p.m. They made it to the correct Puccini’s not too much later. “I just mapped the closest one and I was like, OK that’s got to be it, why would they do anything other than the closest one?” he said. He said the mishap didn’t make him nervous; he was “just kind of rolling with it.” “It gives me an intro,” he said.

What did you order?

Lauren: Cheesy garlic bread, twice baked pizza

“Even just doing this was definitely out of my comfort zone, and then for the pizza, I usually just get like margherita pizza, but I tried the twice baked, which was really good, and I ended up having a great time, both with my food and my date.

Collin: Build-your-own calzone, tiramisu


Lauren: 8

Collin: 8 or 9

Lexi & Josh

Why did you apply?

Lexi: Well, originally, it was actually a friend who signed me up, and then she told me about it and I was like okay, yeah, I can go through with this, no worries. I feel like it could either go really well or just be a really funny story to tell at some point.

Josh: I was actually in the ticket exchange GroupMe, trying to get tickets to the Kansas game, and someone put in the application, and I’m like ‘oh, why not?’

What do you think of Valentine’s Day?

Lexi: Well for the last couple of years I’ve been very anti-Valentine’s Day. Currently this year I’m extremely anti-Valentine’s day just because all of my friends are in happy relationships and are super annoying about it this time of year. I think this morning (the morning of the blind date) my roommate reminded me three times that Valentine’s Day is nine days away.

Josh: It’s just another holiday to me… it’s not something I go out of my way to celebrate.

What do you think of today’s dating culture and dating in college?

Lexi: I think that dating culture nowadays is, not to be cringey, but it’s definitely hit or miss… I feel like you can meet people with a lot of the newfound ways we have now, like Tinder or just like meeting people at parties and all of that, but I feel like a lot of times that can also go very, very poorly, and I think that back in the day, when you pretty much met everybody in person, that you kinda knew what you were getting into from the get-go.

Josh: I mean, ideally I would like to meet someone in person, but I know it’s 2019; that’s not always the case… I wouldn’t really say those (dating) apps started the problem or anything. I would say the problem just stems from college experiences and people’s expectations in their undergrad years, and Tinder and Bumble sort of took advantage of the situation, to their benefit, ’cause I believe that like freshman year, sophomore year, most people aren’t really wanting to be tied down by relationships. And then as they get older, they start to transition to something serious.

What did you order?

Lexi: Breadsticks, Caesar salad, fettuccine alfredo

Josh: Bruschetta, chicken parmesan sandwich

How did the date go?

Lexi: It was interesting. It wasn’t super awkward. I mean, there were times when it got quiet, but for most of the time it was just pretty consistent conversation.

Josh: I thought it went pretty well. I thought it would be a lot weirder than it was.


Lexi: 7

Josh: 7


What did you think of Puccini’s as a first date location?

–with a thank you to Puccini’s for accommodating us

Lexi: I think it’s a really good first date location. It’s nice, but it’s not like overbearing or anything, there’s space, but you kinda feel like you have some privacy. The food was really good.

Collin: I thought it was very nice Italian restaurant, nice background music. I would take someone here for a first date.

Are you glad you participated?

Lauren: I am glad.

Collin: Yeah, absolutely. I would do it again.

Lexi: Yeah, it was fun. I’ve never been on like a blind, blind date before, so it was interesting.

Josh: Yeah. I mean, it’s always been something I wanted to do, cause you can’t definitely do a true blind date anymore if you’re on social media apps because there’s pictures of people.