Using clothes to call back

By Kelli Stevens

I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions, but the end of 2003 corresponded with the demise of my dating tactics–I resolved to “put an end to all game playing.”

Keeping this resolution would mean not worrying about the appropriate time to wait before calling someone new. It would mean not creating new ways to turn someone down. Above all, it would mean an honest, straightforward, and (I hoped) easier existence.

Whether I’m able to keep this resolution remains to be seen (there are definitely skeptics), but so far it has made me think a lot about the games we play.

One of these games has always intrigued me. Called "the Sweater Swap" or "Capture the Clothes," it is played primarily by girls and involves taking or leaving an item of clothing with a potential partner. This ploy gives the girl a reason to see her prey again and leads to the game’s objective: being able to spend more time with someone who will either provide more action or become the source of lifelong love.

But how often do people succeed in reaching those objectives?

When you play the 6/49, Monopoly or poker, you can estimate your odds and have an inkling of the strategy you’ll need. Playing the Sweater Swap is more difficult, because it depends on the actions and reactions of other people. However, like any sport, there are still three possibilities: win, lose, or draw. I’ve seen all three.

My longest relationship stemmed from a variation of the Sweater Swap. Leaving my backpack at a guy’s house one night, I knew that I would have to go and get it the next day. I did, we chatted, and we ended up leaving things at each other’s houses for the next two years.

Not everyone is that lucky.

One girl recently left the Den with a guy and the next morning he gave her his hoodie to go home in. After a few strategic decisions (to wash or not to wash?), she made her move and returned the shirt. They’ve talked a few times since, but very little has come of the situation. I’d call that a draw.

That leaves the story of losing.

A guy named Rob is notorious for not being able to look at, much less talk to girls post-hookup. Unfortunately, he made the mistake of picking up a seasoned Clothes Captor. She made the bold move of "borrowing" his jacket so she could do the Walk of Shame in warmth. But then she bent the rules and decided that she’d wait for him to come get his jacket.

This didn’t go over very well, especially for someone with Rob’s record.

He asked her roommates to give back the coat. He begged a friend to sneak into the girl’s apartment and steal it back. He tried everything. Everything, that is, except going to see her himself.

Eventually, he decided he didn’t need the jacket. Last I heard, Rob was still shivering while walking to class and the Clothes Captor was still warm in her new coat, but cold with the knowledge that she’d lost the game.

So how many people succeed when it comes to Sweater Swapping? It’s hard to tell. But maybe it’s not about whether you win or lose, as long as you have fun playing.

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