When we told a male friend we planned to test the success of cheesy pickup lines, he laughed out loud.
"That's the dumbest thing I ever heard," he said. "What guy isn't going to jump all over that?"
We found out the answer: Mike. And Carlos. And Paulie. And that drunk guy who genuinely thought one of us had an innate fear of sex but didn't offer to help conquer it.
We prepared for our project by re-searching more than 100 lines, from the obvious to the exotic:
"What's a nice guy like you doing in a place like this?"
"Is it hot in here, or is that just you?"
"I hope you know how to do artificial resuscitation, because you take my breath away."
"Did you clean your pants with Windex? I can practically see myself in them."
"Well, here I am. What were your other two wishes?"
We typed our favorites on little strips of paper, ready to draw them randomly from our purses. Wading into the watering holes of downtown Orlando in the midst of Friday-night singles action, we were confident we could prove that most men are opportunists who corral themselves into such meat markets hoping for the slightest sign of an indecent proposal.
A tall, handsome man just happened to bump into Jen at Kate O'Brien's, putting her first in line. "Excuse me," she said, " but I ..."
Quickly she turned away, clapping her hand to her mouth. She had choked. It would take large cojones to approach a stranger, look him in the eyes and lay down a lusty line, even if it's just for sick kicks. Were we man enough to do it?
Fueled by cowardice, Jen eyed her next mark: Omar, a UCF molecular biology student.
She smiled sexily and said: "You see that wall over there? I was so enchanted by your beauty that I walked right into it and hurt my neck, so now I'm going to need your name and number for insurance purposes."
Omar smiled back and asked for her name, then leaned into her ear. "Sweet-heart," he said, "you're gonna have to work a lot harder than that if you want my digits."
Boys 1, Girls 0.
When it was Jessica's turn, she grabbed the arm of a guy in one of those tight-tight shirts that unfailingly make guys look cocky.
"Excuse me, are you from Tennessee? 'Cause you're the only 10 I see."
He laughed out loud -- and even seemed to blush -- before offering, "You girls need another beer?"
"Absolutely," Jessica said, beaming an I-scored-us-free-beer smile. Boys 1, Girls 1.
But a few minutes passed. Then a few more. "They're not coming back," Jen smirked. Boys 2, Girls 0.
Maybe we needed a new venue. We walked to the ever-popular Wall Street Cantina. If you can't score here, you can't score anywhere.
"Excuse me," Jessica said, touching the elbow of a guy built like a brick house. "Is that a keg in your pants? 'Cause I'd like to tap that ass."
"Damn!" he said, stepping back. "I can't believe you just busted a line on me. What's your name?" He smiled big, bought her a drink and asked for a phone number.
Boys 2, Girls 1.
Jen intervened; closing-time desperation had not yet set in, but the late hour propelled the project forward. She approached a dark-haired guy drinking a Coors Light. "My friend and I have a bet. She says you won't show us your ass, but I say you will."
We expected almost any reaction except the one we got.
"Look, I'm not like that. You can ask my friends." The mark shifted his weight from foot to foot. "I get it," he said. "It's like reverse exploitation. You want guys to know how you feel when they say stuff like that to you. Well, I'm just not like that."
What? Here we were, two swaggering, beer-drinking gals accused of executing a deep feminist plot to make him feel like the big weenie he was proving himself to be. Boys 3, Girls 1.
Jen spotted a man seated strategically by the doorway. "Do you believe in love at first sight," she said, "or do I have to walk by you again?"
John, 23, a police officer, was at first startled by the attention. Then he proceeded to lie. He said he noticed Jen the first time she passed and wanted to say something, but decided to wait until she returned from the bar with her drink. Note at this time that there was no beverage in her hand at all. It was a good thing he wasn't under oath.
The boys still were winning.
By the time we'd spotted the blond surfer dude, we had ditched the random drawings, instead saying whatever popped into our heads, egged on by an increasing blood-alcohol level.
"Hey there," Jessica said to Spicoli. "I lost my phone number. Can I have yours?"
"Uh, yeah, wow, you want to give me your number? Cool." He pulled out his cell phone to type in her number.
"No!" Jen said. "She lost her number and she wants yours!"
He looked genuinely perplexed and stood there speechless. Boys 4, Girls 1.
"Hi, I could use a little help," Jen inquired politely of a sandy-blond, spiked-hair case. "I suffer from amnesia. Do I come here often?"
Granted, loud music that requires shouted communication can make it hard for a guy -- any guy -- to get a grip on such a complex question. But, to have to repeat it four times? At first, the spikester simply replied by nodding his hair yes.
"So, I do come here often?" Jen asked.
"I'm originally from Boston," he said. Then, after Jen made one more try, he asked her earnestly, "Do you come here often?"
This guy was too drunk to know what hit him.
Though Jessica had not liked the line about Tennessee, Jen gave it a whirl -- and found Marty, 23, a UCF student who actually was from Tennessee. Score this one even. He recognized the line, saw the humor in Jen's approach and shared his own favorite pickup: "How do you like your eggs in the morning? Poached or fertilized?"
Clever, but obviously not a line that a woman could deploy. And with closing time imminent, there was time for only one more.
Justin looked to be alone, although he may only have wandered away from his pack. Jen moved in.
"I'm new in town," she said. "Can I have directions to your place?"
"Sure!" the guy responded with inebriated interest. "It's my twenty-first birthday!"
"Oh, great!" Jen said, rolling her eyes.
"You take the 408 to University, go east ... So, you're really coming over?" He was courteous. He made sure she had his phone number in case she got lost. In fact, he was so concerned about Jen arriving safely that he subsequently began hitting on the group of women right next to her.
Justin, forgive us if you're still at home waiting.