Kyle waited for Julie in the rooftop restaurant. It was their first date and he did not know how to recognize her. They have been dating online for the last six months. Julie did not want to meet him for a long time. Finally, after Kyle’s insistence, she gathered some courage to meet him.

Kyle was nervous. He looked at the sky. He looked at the horizon lined with skyscrapers. He wished he did not ask her for a date. He really enjoyed their conversations and the entire online dating experience. So many questions troubled him. What if she is very beautiful? What if she did not like me? What if she found him to be too boring?

After thinking about all these questions, he felt so nervous and decided that he needed to do something to divert his attention. Normally, he is so used to chatting with Julie on his mobile whenever he needed a distraction. Today, he could not talk to her as he was feeling nervous to talk to her and meet her.

He kept his mobile phone aside and continued his attempts to divert his attention. After a few minutes of disturbed thoughts, he involuntarily pinged Julie on chat saying that he is nervous. Only after hitting the send button, did he realize that he sent it to her and he should not have done that. She responded saying that she is running late and apologized and told him that she is also feeling very nervous.

Kyle called her up on her mobile number and said, “I’m not liking this. You have been the source of peace and freedom all this while. I enjoyed chatting with you. But, today, I had to stop myself from chatting with you at least ten times. I’m not liking this nervousness. All this while, I enjoyed your company virtually as there was no judgment involved. You saw my pics. You know my friends. But, I continue to feel awkward. I don’t know why.”

Julie replied,”Your words echo my thoughts. I feel like running back to my laptop and chatting with you. I too don’t know why but I want to chat with you online more than talk to you in person. Like you said, may be, it because of the judgment factor involved. I’m becoming too anxious. I’m not enjoying this either. More than anything, I miss you as a friend I can bank upon for advice during these nervous situations.”

Kyle said, “So true. In the last six months, you helped me deal with my parents, my boss, and many other people. You understood me so well and your advice has been very helpful always. Now, all of a sudden, I feel uncomfortable talking to you in person because I cannot seek your advice.”

Julie said,”I told you I did not want this date. We are having a great time together in our virtual world. I did not have any friends before you came into my life as an online friend. You made my life better. But, all of a sudden, I’m frightened I’ll miss the warmth of your online friendship. Shall we cancel this date?”

Kyle thought over for a minute. He, then, said, “I have a better idea. Let us play a small game. Let us say you are not Julie. You are Christine. I’m not Kyle. I’m Kevin. I’m talking about the people we are going to meet now. Let us address each other as Christine and Kevin when we meet in person. Meanwhile, we can continue to chat with Julie and Kyle and seek their advice to deal with this date. Think about it.”

Julie laughed aloud and said, “Where do you get these ideas from? You are so crazy. How can I talk to you and act as if I’m not talking to you. In fact, there is this part of me that always wanted to meet you in person. How can I spoil that feel?

Kyle said, “I have been longing to meet you more than that. You know that, too. I have been pestering you to meet me. But, given the fact that we are socially awkward people, we might need some help. And, as we do not have other friends, why not seek the help of each other? And, it should not ruin any dreams, as we will definitely meet in person. This is going to be a funny game. Let us play it for some time. It is better than sitting silently in front of each other. At least, we can avoid that embarrassment.”

Julie agreed after a few minutes. She arrived at the restaurant after a few minutes.

Julie introduced herself as Christine to Kevin.

Meanwhile, Kyle sent a message to Julie saying, “Should I ask her why she is late? Or should I make her feel comfortable? How do you girls like it?”

Julie replied, “Just smile. Do something to make her comfortable.”

Kevin asked her, “Would you like some wine?”

Christine smiled and said yes. Julie sent a quick message to Kyle saying, “Do I have to apologize to him about being late? Or, should I talk as though it did not matter.”

Kyle replied,”You are not the first woman in the world to keep her man waiting. Women are expected to come late. Men are expected to wait. It’s all part of the dating game. Just ignore it. Don’t be too nice. Men prefer women who are hard to get. I hope you are getting it?”

To anyone who might have been observing them, it would have been odd that they talked less with each other and spent more time with their mobile phones texting. But, for Kyle and Julie, the nervousness started to fade out. They started feeling comfortable.

Kevin said, “You look gorgeous. You look a lot better than your photos.”

Christine started blushing. She said, “You are impressive, too. You have such a nice smiling face. Your pictures on Facebook make you look like a serious person. You are a better person out here.”

Kevin and Christine talked more in the next few minutes. They talked about gadgets, movies, sports, and politics. They started liking each other.

Christine said, “I need to tell you something. I hope it doesn’t bother you.”

Kevin said, “Sure. Go ahead.” He thought that Julie wanted to end this game and would tell him that she is Julie.

Christine said, “I’m not Julie.”

There was a lot of awkwardness between them.

Kevin asked, “Did she send you? Why didn’t she come, then?”

Christine said, “It’s a bit more complicated. You have not been talking to Julie for the last three months. I have been talking with you all this while. My name is Jennifer.”

Kyle got confused. He asked, “What about the photo in your Facebook profile?”

Jennifer said, “Julie created an account with my photo to date some geeks and nerds as part of her assignment. She wanted to write an article about dating geeks. You are one of her experiments. In your case, she could not break up so easily the way she broke up with others and she did not have time to continue interacting with you, so she sought my help to slowly break up with you. But, as we chatted more often, we became good friends and I did not want to lose your friendship. So, I kept going. And, this was the reason why I did not want to meet you in person.”

Kyle was silent. Kevin was out of the picture.

Kyle said, “I have something to admit, too, here. I’m not Kyle. He is my friend who acted as a nerd to attract beautiful girls using my photo. He would then come to the fore and present himself as a better option to have more fun with them. This started in college and he continues to do that. In your case, three months after talking to you regularly, he got bored and lost hope. So, he asked me to take over saying that he finally found a girl for me. And, my name is Charlie. Like you said, I have been anxious too because I have been impersonating my friend who started this dating game and was worried I would be caught. I did not want to lose your friendship at any cost.”

Jennifer said, “It appears we both were cheating for ourselves. This is the most complicated equation I could ever think of.”

Charlie said, “As everything is out on the table, can we start dating now? Charlie is very impressed with Jennifer and wants to date with her, finally.’

Jennifer smiled and said, “Why do you think I’m sitting here even after listening to the entire story. I’m impressed too. We’re already dating.”