Thanks to a new app launched by matchmaking website eHarmony, singles on dates headed downhill now have hope of pulling off a gracious early exit.
With the free iPhone app, dubbed Bad Date Rescue, you can arrange for your ill-starred rendezvous to be interrupted by a phone call from a range of fictional characters: Mom is asking for help fixing the DVD player so that Dad can watch an important presentation for work; your boss needs your help right away; your neighbor informs you that a pipe has burst in your basement.
"eHarmony developed the Bad Date Rescue App as a fun and engaging way to help people get out of a bad date and into a good date," spokeswoman Whitney Standring-Trueblood said.
A great deal of choreography goes into the "call." It can be scheduled and then ignored, or triggered by the push of a button when things begin to fizzle. You can program your phone to appear as though any of your contacts - accompanied by a photo - is calling you.
Other apps simulate phone calls for users trying to escape awkwardness, but the Bad Date Rescue app distinguishes itself with interactive pre-recorded scripts.
If you're unsure how to react when the voice pretending to be your boss says, "Listen, this isn't your fault, but we're gonna need you to clean this up," or "Mom" exclaims in a thick Midwestern accent that your sister just gave birth, a voice will guide you on what phrases to use and what facial expressions to make.
Users beware, though: The app cannot prevent you from cracking up and blowing your cover - turning a minor blunder into a full-fledged disaster.