During one weekend, as I was browsing through profiles on POF, I received a message from a woman who called herself Nicole.* There were no photos in her profile, and there were very sparse details. But since it was rare for a woman to initiate contact online, I decided to respond to see what would happen. Our conversation was pretty standard at first: what we liked to do for fun; what our favourite cuisines were — the typical small talk. She seemed nice and made me laugh with her occasional humor. I asked her for a photo of herself, and she responded by sending a few to me. She had a slim figure with long red hair and a bright and genuine smile. I did a quick reverse image search on Google and, to my relief, it wasn’t fake. We continued messaging back and forth for a few days before I decided to ask her out for dinner. I was excited when Nicole responded with a yes. When we worked out where to meet, she pointed out she didn’t have a car, so I offered to pick her up from her house.

The following weekend, I prepped myself and drove over to pick her up. As I drove, my mind raced about what I should talk about, simulating possible conversations. When I got close to her house, I noticed she was in an older neighbourhood with fewer streetlights around. The darkness made me feel a bit uneasy. When I arrived at her house, I texted Nicole to come out. She was quick out of her house and got in the passenger’s side. I asked her what she wanted to eat, and she said she had a hankering for Italian. After a quick search on Google Maps, we decided on a nearby Olive Garden. I set the gear to Drive, and we arrived at the restaurant in a matter of minutes.

The first thing I noticed about Nicole when we entered the brightly-lit restaurant and sat down at the table was that she looked very different from the photos she had sent. She looked at least 5 years older and considerably less kempt. Her red hair sprawled out in different directions, and she looked like she hadn’t slept for several days. Her speech and demeanour proved otherwise, however. After chatting for a few minutes, I found out that she worked as a private investigator. With a breadstick in hand, she proceeded to describe how she would spend many hours investigating a husband’s infidelity, which mostly consisted of scouring the internet of his activities, followed with a bit of tailing around the city. Feeling uncomfortable with hearing all those details, I changed the subject and asked her about her family. At first it was the typical description about how many siblings she had and where her parents lived, but then the conversation quickly started devolving again into a rant about her turbulent history and describing everything in the very graphic detail.

I can’t even begin to describe the immense wave of discomfort that flowed through me as I sat there, nodding my head silently and not moving a muscle.

At this point our entrées arrived, and I took that as a cue to quickly steer our conversation to a lighter subject and asked her about her favourite movies and shows. I mentioned the Black Dynamite animated series, which was near the end of its second season at the time. Nicole had only seen the original live action movie, but she was a big fan of it. The conversation became more light-hearted and enjoyable again. Completely forgetting my prior discomfort with her TMI-filled stories and the unusual vibes she was giving off, I invited her to watch the first few episodes of the show at my place.

The drive to my house was quite short, and we settled into the opposite sides of my livingroom couch. As we watched Black Dynamite kicking ninja ass for interrupting his kung-fu, Nicole seemed a little unsettled. At first I didn’t think much about it, but then I noticed she was catching glimpses at me. Before I could react, she started to tickle me and poked my sides while gradually shifting herself closer and closer towards me. Not wanting to make a scene, I awkwardly laughed it off and shifted myself away from her. Normally this kind of behaviour would be flattering for a guy, and things would get intimate and romantic. But given that Nicole just spent a good couple hours earlier telling me stories that would keep a fully grown adult awake at night, the atmosphere was far from dreamy. She must have noticed my reaction as she stopped shortly after. When the episode ended, I got up to turn off the TV and offered to drive her home.

During the drive, Nicole admitted that was expecting us to have sex, as it was a common thing for the dates she went on from meeting other guys online. She was genuinely surprised that I didn’t do anything. The only response I could come up with was “That’s just not my style.” She said she appreciated that and felt less awkward about her earlier behaviour. I stopped in front of her house and said goodnight as she left the car.

We never messaged each other again after that.

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