If you meet them and you flirt with them, you get a small boost in your relationship meter with them. If you neglect your date for some time however, they will break up with you. Well, I guess the important thing is we get married, not where it happens. Every heart counts as one point towards your relationship meter. The ballgame is about to start, and the crowd outside is thinning, so I take a deep breath and send him a text message.As soon as I press “send,” I notice a short man in a Mets hoodie and aviator shades staring at his phone a few feet away. Much to my relief, Carlos appears to be a normal guy.Carlos hands me my ticket, which also has a 0 price tag, and we head for the elevator to the VIP section. Our comfy leather seats are just behind third base. For , you could “relate without getting close.” For 0, you could have dinner with a girl, borrow her Bartók records, and watch her have an anxiety attack.While we wait, we make small talk: Carlos tells me that he’s originally from the Philippines, but now lives in Jersey City, where he works as a computer programmer. In the story, Flossie turns out to be a man who underwent a botched operation to transform himself into Lionel Trilling, and is carted off to jail for blackmail.The women agreed, so I e-mailed a few photos of myself and a brief bio for them to share with potential clients.After a few false starts, I was eventually sent to the ballpark to meet Carlos.
(Later, in the privacy of a ballpark bathroom stall, I verify the purse’s contents: ten bills.) But right now, we’re running late, and we hurry toward security. A minute later, the doors slide open, and we walk through a sparkly new restaurant, which looks like it belongs in a chain hotel, and out into the blinding sunlight. In Woody Allen’s 1970s short story “The Whore of Mensa,” about a nonsexual escort service operated out of the Hunter College Book Store, a madam who goes by the name of Flossie hires out brainy girls to discuss Melville, Proust, Yeats, and the like, with men craving female intellectual stimulation.It may sound like just another escort service—with additional sex services available by negotiation—but it’s not.The young women who set up the agency are adamant about this, and they spell it out on their website: “If there are any attempts at sexual activity, the girl has the right to end the date immediately.” In other words: No touching. But despite that firm ban on fooling around, the women are getting business, as quaint as their service seems.Which made me wonder: What sort of men, in this financial climate, were willing to spend hard cash for brief companionship and absolutely no chance of physical intimacy?I figured the best way to answer that was to go on one of the dates myself.