In need of a plan B, I returned to Bumble. I had been chatting with a woman on the site who I had genuine interest in, so I was a little gun-shy to try out these new/old moves on her. But this was no time to hold back! I needed to channel the generations of polite and romantic men from eras past. A few days after exchanging numbers and without warning, I hyped myself up, picked up the phone, and gave her a call.
The phone rang a few times while I half-prayed for her not to answer. Her "Hello?" came packaged in a small, confused voice. Our conversation was short: I asked her out for a specific night, she said she was busy, I fumbled through other suggestions, she told me she was cooking dinner, and asked to call me back.
While I did get a text later that night -- and though we have exchanged messages since then -- I still haven't met her. I'm willing to give her the benefit of the doubt and assume this is a scheduling conflict; not her being creeped out by the phone call.
I clearly needed to leave the app game behind and try for a totally tech-free, old-fashioned experience. So, I met up with my buddy Ian in his neighborhood to hit a few of his favorite bars in classic single guy-and-wingman fashion.
After chivalrously coming to the rescue of a girl under assault from a dude with the absolute opposite approach to mine (Sidenote: it is never OK for a douchebag bro to just start grinding up on a woman in lieu of saying hello), I was able to bust out an old standard for the first time: the calling card.
My wallet was filled with them, ready to be handed to any ladies who caught my eye. When I handed the recently liberated damsel the first one, all I got was a weird look. When I explained that the obviously un-business card was just my way of telling her I was interested, I got some not-so-encouraging feedback: "Well, that's a nonstarter."
I tried the calling-card trick on other women throughout the night. The responses were consistent: "Sketchy as shit," "Thank you, but I'm not interested," "This must be an age thing," and "Depends on the person, and it’s not you." My personal favorite came from a 30-year-old stunner from Seattle who was, unfortunately, just in town for the night visiting a friend.
"If you're handing me a card," she said, "it's going to have to give details of your full sexual history."
After the calling cards yielded no results, I had one last method to try. I set up a weeknight date with a girl I had gone out with a few times before... and then double-checked that my good friend Michelle would be able to make it as well. Yup, we needed a chaperone.
This was to be sure that things wouldn’t move too quickly so I could live up to my romantic aims without succumbing to my baser nature. And yes, there are still communities in the US that do this for every date until marriage.
Amanda, the girl I was meeting, didn’t know the date would be monitored. When she walked into the bar, she saw Michelle but didn't say anything until I introduced her as "our chaperone for the evening." The girls exchanged pleasantries, and we sat awkwardly at the end of a long table as I limped through a conversation with Amanda while Michelle silently observed us.
After about two minutes, I’m ashamed to say that the awkwardness was too much for me. I fessed up and told Amanda about the experiment (much to Michelle's chagrin, sorry dude) and we went on to have an otherwise normal conversation between three friends. Amanda later told me that she knew something was weird, but wasn’t quite sure what to think. How would she have reacted if she hadn't known me already? We'll never know, because I'm not exactly planning on pulling that stunt on anyone ever again.