One day during the NFL offseason, I got a text message.
"Hey Nate. Great meeting you a few weeks ago. I'm finally back to Michigan after a long trip. Thought I would say hello so you don't forget me—Lauren."
I didn't remember Lauren. But it didn't surprise me that I didn't remember Lauren. I was playing for the Broncos at the time. The Denver social scene was a lively, burbling cesspool. I met a new girl every night. In the morning I would look at my phone and there would be new numbers, new names of new girls whom I couldn't remember meeting.
"We met outside of that bar downtown. You were drunk."
OK, that sounds plausible. In fact, that rings a bell. Yes, Lauren from Michigan. Now I remember.
"How was your trip?"
"It was amazing. What's your email address? I'll send you some pictures."
Lauren sent me pictures. She was a cute blonde. She was in a bikini on the beach in the Cayman Islands. She was in a dress with her friends. She was in the mirror in her bathroom.
The texts grew increasingly flirty. Then she called me one day and we talked. She had a Michigan accent. She was nice. She was also horny. She said she loved to have phone sex. I said maybe some other time.
The communication continued sporadically. I didn't respond in a timely manner, and this disturbed her. She sent me increasingly suggestive texts and phone calls. She sent me nude photos of herself. She sent me a picture of her ass that I especially liked.
One night I was drunk and answered her late-night call. I have never felt comfortable having phone sex. Not before then and not since. But Lauren swept me up in her unrelenting horniness. It was fascinating. All I had to do was answer her very specific questions. She held the phone between her legs as she came. I couldn't help but follow.
That night would be the high point of our relationship. We had a few more late-night conversations, but they fell between her bouts of frustration that I wasn't more available.
Months later I was playing poker with some friends. It was late at night. We were drinking beer. There was a lot of money on the table. We were talking about girls. A defensive lineman from Georgia named Paul was talking about a girl he knew. She's real freaky, he said. Check out this picture.
He passed his phone around the table. When it reached me I didn't want to look at it. Something about the way he described this girl struck me as familiar. I looked at the phone. It was Lauren's ass: the same exact photo that she had sent me.
"Hold on. You know this girl?" I asked Paul.
"Yeah. I met her a few months ago."
"Outside of the bar?"
"And you were drunk, right?"
"But you don't really remember it, do you?"
"Oh, shit. No, I don't."
I pulled up the photo on my phone. It was identical.
"Lauren from Michigan, right?"
"Did you get the Cayman Islands photos too?"
I called her when I got home and told her that I'd talked to Paul. I'd seen the pictures. This was not OK! She denied all accusations, started crying, told me not to do this. I told her not to do this. This was sick. Goodbye. She never contacted me again. To this day, I have no idea how she got my number. I have no idea if I was texting with the woman in the photos. I'd like to believe I was, for obvious reasons.
I thought about Lauren again—if Lauren really was her name—when I read the story of Manti Te'o's fake dead internet girlfriend.