When it comes to storybook romances, Dana Damico and Kent Lassman have the book part covered: A copy of I Was Amelia Earhart sits in the couple’s attic in Alexandria, with Kent’s marriage proposal still scrawled inside. But in 1996, when the two met at a now-closed Olsson’s Books and Records near Metro Center, it was Dana who was popping the questions.
“I thought he was a guy who had come in a few days earlier to get the Earhart book,” Dana says. “So I started asking him, ‘Did you like the book? What did you think of the book?’ I kept asking, he kept staring, and finally I realized: He’s not that guy.”
Dana, embarrassed, went back to work. Kent, “totally floored” that the cute clerk in overalls was talking to him, forgot why he had come to Olsson’s in the first place. And Kent’s coworker Rachel, incredulous that he had left the bookstore without asking for a date, hounded him at work for the next few hours until he—a shy guy who had never done anything close to asking out a stranger—picked up the phone. He didn’t even know Dana’s name.
“I called and asked for the clerk in the overalls, the one with the short hair,” he says. “They’re like, ‘We don’t take calls like that. You’re creepy.’ But after another hour and a half of abuse at the office, I called again and Dana answered.”
They met for drinks at Capitol City Brewing Company, and then Kent—who admits he didn’t have a plan because he didn’t expect Dana to say yes—pulled a classic DC date line: “What’s your favorite monument?” The two talked on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial for hours, then ended the night at Kent’s favorite: the Albert Einstein sculpture at the National Academy of Sciences.
A few weeks later, Dana left for grad school in Chicago—but the two decided to keep dating. Three years later, still a long-distance couple (after getting her master's in journalism, Dana landed at a newspaper in North Carolina), Kent took Dana back to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, an Olsson’s bag in hand. Again he was speechless. “I wrote the proposal in the book,” he says, “so I wouldn’t have to say it.”
Dana made him ask anyway. Three times. And her answer? Let's put it this way: she definitely wasn't speechless.
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