Ever been on a lousy date and just wish your cellphone would ring with news of a horrible family emergency?

Cingular Wireless has introduced a new feature that could answer your need.

As part of the company's $4.99-a-month Voice Connect package, subscribers can arrange to be called at a preset time. The so-called "rescue" call (search) randomly chooses one of eight scripts, whispering in your ear the right combination of words to get you out of a bad situation.

"This is your escape-a-date call," the cellular guardian angel says, instructing you to play along with the script. "Just repeat after me and you'll be on your way: 'Not again! Why does that always happen to you?' Tell 'em that your roommate got locked out and you have to go let them in."

The Voice Connect package also allows you to dial by voice, or to synchronize with your desktop e-mail program. But it's the escape-a-date feature (search) that is generating all the buzz.

"Our younger customers think it's cute and funny," said Patti Keller, the company's Voice Connect product manager.

Keller conceded that the service is a bit dishonest — after all, there really is no locked-out roommate — but that sometimes you just need to be saved from the date from hell.

"Let me tell you, I've been on some dates when I wish I'd had something like this," she said.

Escape-a-date is just the latest way to turn your cellphone into a pocket accomplice. Other cellular companies offer preprogrammed excuse calls, while others have sound effects that you can dial up to convince the person on the other end that you're in an airport or the dentist's office.