(Disclaimer: I am not saying this is a true story, but it could be. And it could have happened/will happen to someone you know too. Beware of online friendships and relationships. They might not be what you believe them to be. Caveat Romeo)
My friend R walked in unexpectedly in the middle of a slack day. I hadn’t seen him in person for a long time, but I could guess why he was there. He had come to unload on me. My friends have this strange habit of confusing me with a trained psychiatric counselor. I don’t know why. I have never given them the impression of knowing anything in that field beyond the mandatory chapters during UG classes. Maybe I just give off false vibes which fools them that I care deeply, and they let loose on me. Or maybe they just don’t realize that I have tuned off into a different channel keeping my mouth shut, while they pour out their often seemingly impossible problems to me. Especially in the field of problematic relationships, they seem to assume that because we are sailing in the same boat, I have maybe a better sense of direction than them. Any way to come back to P, he looked like he was busting with news.
I held up my hand to forestall him “If it’s a kiss and tell tale, don’t tell me, I don’t want to hear it, whatever it is”. He waved off my objections and went on “but you just have to help me with this. I am so confused. Besides this is not a kiss and tell, I never got close enough to kiss, let alone tell. I was robbed at the altar, by someone who I invited for a date”. I could see that there was no way to escape this tale and I would have to undergo this torture to the end, so I waved him on and sat back with my eyes closed. Let him tell this tale in his own words.
“You remember me telling you the last time we talked, that I have a new online friend I felt very compatible with? Well, we got to chatting on a regular basis and we grew closer together and I felt the time had come to move the friendship forward from the online stage and onto real life. I gradually opened this idea out to her and she expressed her readiness to take our friendship forward and as a preliminary step we fixed up a date for day before yesterday, Saturday you know? Just a cup of coffee at a coffee shop but I felt that this could be the dawn of a beautiful relationship.
So, on Saturday I was off to the coffee shop she mentioned a good ten, fifteen minutes before the appointed 5pm. I hung around in the lobby till the time came and then went in to wait for her inside. Time passed but she didn’t come. I tried to call her, but she wouldn’t pick up. Just kept sending me text messages that read “wait” “I am on the way” “traffic” “hold on” “stay there” “coming” etc and I believing these messages hung around there staring hopefully at the entrance but she never turned up. I finally gave up after some two or so hours and realizing that she had no intention of turning up that day and also because of the dirty looks from the waiters at the café for hogging up a table all evening, I finally left that place. Just when I was leaving the parking area I got one final beep on my mobile and out of curiosity stopped to see what just what kind of excuse she had finally sent. I was startled to read that the message read “Help, emergency, come immediately to Clive Battery Beach in New Washermenpet and help me please, I am waiting”.
I jumped up onto my bike immediately and went over there to save the day. I searched the lonely (at that time) beach for her frantically only to find myself being surrounded by three thugs with fishing knives who mugged me of my wallet/mobile and everything” I gave a sharp intake of breath at that “Did she put them up to it?” he waved irritably “Wait for the end of the story” and he continued “And finally today I found the reason why. She posted a status message on her Facebook wall saying that she lost her mobile and all her contacts with it and requested people to mail her their numbers. I felt like a total fool on reading that and I can’t even tell her what happened to me that day – because of her” he concluded.
I sighed, there was no avoiding it anymore “So what have we learned from this episode?” I asked him. He said morosely “That I am going to die alone in my old age and my neighbors’ are going to find my body by the stink?” I sighed “Now, now, let’s not get all morbid but just stick to this particular episode, so start again”. He started again “That I am the world’s greatest fool? For believing a text message and rushing to save a girl?”. “Well, well, let’s not say you weren’t warned” I tried to tell him “when she didn’t turn up for the date you should have forgotten the whole thing, written it down as a lesson learnt and moved on. Instead, you rushed to rescue her taken in by the fiction of a needy woman waiting for rescue and she got her accomplices to rob you after drawing you to a secluded spot”.
I consoled him a bit after those harsh words “Think of it this way, whatever she told you, it was all an act. She and her accomplices were planning to rob you from the first. They just wanted her to string you along till she got you to a secluded spot. At least you escaped being kidnapped for ransom. I am not sure your dad would have paid to get you back despite however many fingers of yours they cut and sent to your house” This sobered him up pretty fast.
And I went on to give more relationship gyan “Do think about this- a relationship should be a fun thing. If you are made to work hard in order to get closer to someone –don’t. Starting a relationship, at least in the initial stages should be a fun and exciting time, not an exhausting and frustrating period of your life. And if things aren’t working out between you two, then maybe they aren’t supposed to. And remember this, in the absence of romance in your life, no one’s bugging you or pressuring you to spend more time with them to the exclusion of everyone or everything else. You can indulge your hobbies, hang out with your friends have a great time, and now why would you sacrifice all that freedom for skirt-chasing?”
When P went away, he looked half convinced by my arguments, but I am not confident that he won’t get robbed again, the minute a chat message pops up again from a strange and interesting woman online. We men are weak in that aspect, aren’t we? But his story really made me think about the lengths to which lonely men go to, to get robbed. And about what I keep hearing all the time from various sources – ALL THAT GLITTERS ONLINE, IS NOT GOLD. Go figure.
(P.S. A special thanks to my friend S.Raghunath who brought this story to my attention and helped me propagate this warning)
(P.P.S. Images courtesy Google)