catfish, noun: a person who sets up a false personal profile on a social networking site for fraudulent or deceptive purposes
Jason's prank doesn't go as planned, and he finds himself dragged deeper into things than expected.
I try to go to my Thursday classes and not freak out. I keep my head down, focus on the schoolwork. It's a good distraction. But sometime classes and homework have to end and I'm left alone with my thoughts.
Incredibly nervous, I check the site. There's a message from Mark asking if we were still on for Friday and giving me his phone number. Which I already have, ironically. Wait, is that ironic? Eh, it's not worth thinking about.
I confirm for Friday. After all I never pulled off the actual point of this whole thing… this prank. I don't give him a number because he already has my cell and it'd be a dead giveaway if Jason and “Alicia” had the same phone number.
I spend the rest of the evening trying to distract myself. I try watching some porn but I'm not feeling it. Eventually I just go to bed feeling worn out and hopeless.
Friday morning I wake up anxious, or to be positive, excited. Today is the big day. I'm finally going to get the payoff for all this work!
I suddenly realize that I probably shouldn't go in the exact same outfit. Not only would that be suspicious but it's not nice enough for the place we're going. There's not time to order online.
So I steel myself, change into my “Alicia” clothes and makeup, and go to buy women's clothing.
I go to several clothing stores, looking for something cheap and appropriate and moving quickly so no salesperson will ask if I need help. I end up buying a black dress that I think seems like Alicia's style. I don't try it on because I feel weird about using the changing rooms. Like even more of a pervert. I rush home and try it on.
It looks surprisingly good.
I'm skipping class that I really should be going to but I don't want to have to change just to redo everything later. Besides, I get a sick day or three.
Meanwhile I have to wait and I'm freaking out. I end up going to the Internet and looking up things about men who like to wear women's clothing. I guess it is a fetish, yeah. Weirder to me is that some people seem to do it not for a sexual reason. It reassures them or something? I don't really get it.
Finally it's approaching our reservation time. After thinking about it I decide I can wait in the room. Less people will see me and he'll just assume Jason let me in. Well, I am Jason, but he doesn't know that.
He finally gets back from wherever he was with only ten minutes until we're supposed to be at the restaurant.
“Jeez, you're super late! I've been waiting for like hours! Get changed quick or we'll miss the reservation!” I swat his back and feel weirdly comfortable, and a little turned on.
In about a minute he's changed into a suit. He looks good, actually. I'm bothered he could do that so fast. I'm kind of jealous.
I feel weird looking at him.
He calls us an Uber to the place, then holds the door for me and ushers me in. “Nothing but the best for milady.” It's super cheesy but I think he knows that. I actually laugh a little even though it was lame. Probably because it was so lame, to be honest.
Because we drove we get there with time to spare. Honestly, we could have walked but it would have looked kind of weird, us looking fancy and running to make it.
At least I'm not wearing heels. I doubt I could handle them and I kind of forgot I needed shoes until the last minute. I'm just the… flats, I think?… that I bought online earlier. They're actually a little big but it's not major.
Anyway we get there and we have to wait like half an hour to be seated. I guess this place is popular. I get more and more fidgety. Maybe Mark had the right idea being late.
At least a waiter comes quickly and we order. I wait until after my pasta comes and I've eaten most of it. Don't want to waste free food! Free for me, anyway. I don't eat that much though because I'm nervous. We make meaningless small talk in between bites. He asks me the standard college-age questions: What major are you? What grade are you in? Where are you rooming? I make up a major—I claim I'm studying education, that sounds both noble and girly—and tell my real grade. It's not like that narrows things down much. The third question I just avoid. He tells me a bunch of stuff that I already know. Not really his fault though. I could tell him “Jason” had already filled me in on him but then I don't know what we'd talk about. And I find out some new stuff anyway. He's in a pre-med frat. I guess his parents want him to be a doctor. Mostly his dad. I feel bad for him. My parents don't really care what I do. Not in a bad way. They give me a lot of freedom.
I tell him he should do what he wants, not follow someone else's plans for him. He says he knows but it's easier said than done.
Even though this guy is my roommate I really don't know him.
Finally it's dessert time and I figure this is my last chance. I actually feel kind of bad doing this now but it's not like I could realistically keep up this charade much longer. To be honest, I kind of forgot that the “Alicia” persona was supposed to be pretty but dumb and just started acting like my regular self. Who knows what other ways I'd slip.
“I have something important to tell you,” I pronounce. I've been building myself up for this all evening.
“What is it?” He leans forward.
“…I'm a guy.” I kind of whisper.
“What?” I'm not sure if he didn't hear or if he's in denial.
“I'm a guy!” I say considerably more loudly—someone at an adjacent table looks over. Unfortunately I don't have a wig to pull off. My own hair was long enough to put into a female-ish ponytail and I figured that was good enough.
Mark frowns and his brow wrinkles. I have an inexplicable urge to rub that wrinkle, feel the ridges of his forehead smooth out under my fingers. “What do you mean? Are you transgender or something?”
Or something I automatically think. From what I could tell from my research, transgender/transsexuals were clearly different from crossdressers because they knew they were different from a young age and hated their bodies.
“No, I'm, um…” my voice became small, “playing a prank on you?”
“Wait, so you're not a guy?” he says impatiently. “That was the prank?”
“No, uh, the prank is that I'm a guy… dressed like a girl… and I went on a date with you.'
He squints at me. “I'm having trouble understanding how that's supposed to be funny and I also have a hard time believing you're a guy. Are you gay? I seriously thought I was getting signs you were into me.” He looks dejected.
“No, I'm not!–actually I'm just confused about my sexual orient—whatever! The point is that it was supposed to be a big reveal and then you would be embarrassed.”
“I don't see why I'm supposed to be embarrassed about going on a date—a very nice one, too, until now— with someone who still seems to me like a pretty cool girl.”
I don't know how to explain this to him. I bury my face in the palm of my hand. This is incredibly awkward, and not at all in the way I was expecting.
“You know what,” I finally announce, “Forget about it. The whole thing bombed. It stunk. Let's just pretend this date never happened.”
“These two dates, you mean,” Mark prodded.
“Fine, these two dates! Both dates! Just… erase them from your mind!”
“I had fun though. What if I don't want to forget about them?” He smiles at me and I feel my stomach twist weirdly.
“Besides,” he adds, “I'm still not convinced what you're saying is true.”
“I'm a guy! It's pretty fricking obvious! See this?” I point to my adam's apple, “Girls don't have those!”
I slump in my seat and sigh. “Why won't you believe me?”
Mark's brow wrinkles again. “I get that you're a guy physically, okay? I wish you would stop pointing that out. I'm just not convinced this was all a prank.”
I just give up on convincing him about that part. Take a different tack. “You actually know me. Like pretty well. As a guy.”
He squints at me. I see comprehension dawning in his eyes. “Jason?”
“See, I lied to you! I concealed who I was! Just to mess with you. You should be angrier. You should be furious!”
He continues to stare at me. “You're… really pretty. I never would have guessed.”
“I don't know what that means.”
“You know, honestly,” he says contemplatively, “even if this was a prank it was one of the better dates I've been on. I mean, if you want to, I'd be up for doing this again. It can just be as friends and you can dress however you want, but… I like hanging out with you.”
My jaw is agape. I can't believe this guy. How understanding and just… nice! he's being about the whole thing.
And I can't believe myself when I say, “Okay.”
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