There were some hard and fast rules Nicole took to online dating, rules her sister affectionately called the so-some-creepy-pyscho-serial-killer-can’t-have-his-nasty-way-with-yourules. The first – and most important – rule was to have dates in crowded places. So when Lucas had suggested an out-of-the-way Thai place for their first date, she’d mentioned Sweet Tree and their divine coffee instead. The second rule was to find out if they liked animals, because anyone who didn’t was obviously a serial killer. She remembered to ask him after ordering a second chai latter. Lucas had said “obviously” in such a scandalized way that Nicole found the corners of her mouth twitching up.
“Good,” she said, “now I know for sure you’re not a serial killer.”
Lucas laughed. He had a great smile – two straight rows of perfect teeth and a dimple on his cheek. Their waiter’s return with her drink distracted her, and she mouthed a “thank you” as she took it from him.
“I like you,” Lucas said. Nicole smiled at him. “You’re not like most girls.”
Nicole nearly choked on her drink. “What?” She said. “No, I’m fine.” She waved off Lucas’s concern. “What did you just say?”
Lucas gave her that beautiful smile again, his brow’s creased. “I said you’re not like most girls.”
Nicole studied him.
Online dating, she’d discovered over the last year, was all about getting good reads on people, so you didn’t waste time with them before finding out they were secret necrophiliacs or hardened criminals. It wasn’t one of her rules, but she’d learned if you let someone talk long enough, with minimal input, they’d either incriminate or clear themselves.
So Nicole leaned back. “Really?” She said. “And what are most girls like?”
Lucas laughed again. “Well…You know.”
“Know what?” Nicole asked.
“I-” Lucas fumbled. It was obvious he hadn’t expected to explain this. Silence shadowed their table as Nicole waited. “You know. The like…typical girl. They’re obsessed with shopping and…makeup.”
“Really?” Nicole said.
“Yeah, you know the type,” Lucas said, warming up to the topic. “They just care about likes on Instagram and taking the perfect picture. It’s shallow, and weird. They’re just really materialistic. It’s kind of annoying,” he admitted. “I’m glad you’re not like that.”
Nicole took another sip of her coffee. “You really think most women are materialistic?”
Lucas must have realized how terrible that sounded, because he quickly backtracked. “No! No, definitely not – I just –”
“Think most women are annoying,” Nicole finished.
Lucas sputtered. “No! I didn’t mean-” Lucas laughed, a bit too loudly. “What’s with the Spanish Inquisition? I thought this was going well.”
“I’m just trying to understand,” Nicole said, “because you made it seem like I was better than other girls when you said I’m not like them.”
“You are,” Lucas rushed to assure her. “You’re so much better than them.”
“So most girls are inferior to me?” Nicole asked. “Because that’s what you seemed to think when you said it.”
Lucas’s mouth opened and closed without a sound.
“So you can see,” Nicole said, “how telling me I’m not like most girls isn’t exactly a compliment. In fact, it speaks to your own views, which I certainly don’t care for.” She grabbed her purse and left a ten-dollar bill on the table. “For the coffee,” she said. “And think about what I said. Fewer and fewer people have time or patience for people who think like you.” She made to leave, and paused. “And for your information,” she said, “I do like shopping and posting shallow pictures on Instagram. I also make twice your salary and have apparently met more women who’ve liked me than you.”
She left Lucas burning holes into the table, jaw clenched. The start of McCartney and Lennon’s duet cut off behind her as she closed the café’s door and started the walk to her car.
About the Author: Surina Venkat spent most of her childhood sneaking books into her room so she could read when she was supposed to be sleeping. She's a 16-year-old sophomore from West Melbourne, Florida. If she isn’t at her local library, listening to a podcast, or going on a run with her dog, you’ll be able to find her on Twitter and Instagram.