The lecturer at the only Philosophy class I ever attended was a fan of mind-bending moral dilemmas. "Is it good to look good and be actually bad or is it good to look bad and be actually good?" he asked us with a smirk. As a zealous believer in the straightforwardness of morality, I dismissed the man as a quack, a charlatan who gets a paycheck for screwing with students' heads. But one day, long after graduation, his question became pertinent.
I decided that I wasn't in love with Jennifer but I would pretend to be hopelessly stricken with her. The good or bad in it would become evident later. The thing I didn't know is that with such things, a line can be crossed beyond which no retreat is possible.
So I called her numerously and steered the conversation to intimate waters. At first she railed at me and I took it, but eventually she started opening up. Which scared me. But before long I found myself in an emotional roller-coaster ride with more invested in it than I was aware. Still, the fact that she was terrified that she was actually falling for me was a major thrill factor. I could hear it in her voice.
By the time we met after a week of calls, our body language was a grand spectacle. The chemistry was tangibly electric. We were supposed to be continuing our Sunday swimming routine, but I ended up cornering her in the deep end and working what remained of her psychological defenses at point blank range.
The moment remains etched in my memory; when I looked in her dark eyes and saw that, at long last, all resistance was dead. Reality sunk into my head and I wondered, Now what. My script didn't have a conclusion, it was more like reality TV - a experiment. It was like, here's blackmail you can use against Jennifer. Will you use it? How? But I had frozen in place with these deep meditations.
"What do you want?" asked Jennifer. This question made me aware that I was right on top of the line which must not be crossed.
I told her the truth - for the first time in a long time. "Nothing. It's all a prank."
Now she hates me all over again.
(Turns out I was right. Morality is straightforward. If you look good and act bad, the good look don't count for much.)