This week I’m going to write about fantasists. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while, as I meet people, mainly men (but not exclusively) who come to Goa with a fictitious backstory.
There’ve been two of note recently. An Irishman who shall remain nameless (but everyone here who met him will know exactly who I mean), who told us all immediately that he owned ‘the centre of Ireland’ with his big farm, and kept offering jobs to Indian and Nepalese workers here if they wanted to come and open a restaurant on his land. He truly thought his status as a landowner made him eligible to the ladies. He was one of those men I keep meeting here who insist on talking without a break, and he was initially quite funny, so we let him do it. His party trick was to get people as allies by pointing at them dramatically, and booming, “I like you, [insert name]!”
Ego, I thought. Probably a massive narcissist.
We found out later that the Irishman fixes tractors on a regular farm in Ireland. Nothing wrong with that, but we’d have liked him a whole lot better if he’d led with the truth. But he used his story to ensnare women all over the place and it worked. I watched him work the women in one bar on his last night and thought about all the guys I meet here who fabricate stories about themselves and come here desperate for a fantasy holiday romance.
Another guy with the same intention, from England, is telling people he’s former SAS, which obviously proper former SAS guys don’t tell people. He keeps an air of mystery about where he’s come from, what his job is, where his next destination is. We think he’s probably just going back to Scunthorpe to look after his mum (which incidentally, would be way more impressive to women than the SAS story). I was talking to him about the Irishman and he dropped in that he’d ‘bumped into U2’ when he was in Ireland. Of course he had.
Now my fantasist radar is almost as twitchy as my narcissist one. Often the two things go together, I find. When two of them meet each other it can be quite amusing. Both are used to holding court in a group and I can see that they can’t bear ceding space to another ego. They twitch on their feet as they try to find a place to take over the conversation but they can’t find it, because they’ve met their match and their match doesn’t even stop to take a breath. Eventually they wander over to another group where they can be king (or queen) again for five minutes. Until the next fantasist/narcissist rocks up.
A friend told me about her holiday romance with a guy here a couple of seasons ago – he told her he owned a business back home, his own house, etc, etc. He ran a mile when they both got back to the UK because neither thing was true. But she liked him, and would still have liked him, if he’d told her the truth. Why did he feel that he wasn’t enough?
Here in Agonda, I see it very clearly (especially being sober) – many solo men are desperate to find a holiday romance partner and can’t bear to be alone. Solo women are often like me – happy to be independent and free and while they might enjoy meeting a guy along the way, they’re not desperately searching for one. They’re less likely to weave a fantasy story about themselves and more likely (like me) to share a little bit too much of the truth. But every now and again they fall for the story.
The Irishman was a special case. He knew he had to leave the country for visa reasons but left it to the day before it ended to book his flight. He didn’t own a proper phone or listen to anyone who did, instead entrusting his booking to a local travel agent who got him a flight that was three times the price of another one, and it was taking him to Bangkok first, in the opposite direction. When I questioned him on it, he said, “I like to live my life with no responsibility, Lisa…”
I found it fascinating, this disconnection from the real world and from an authentic existence. I guess that’s where his heavy drinking habit came from – a need to blur reality and go back to the same old stories. “I’ve got a huge farm, Lisa! You could marry me! I like you!”
Nah, you’re alright, mate. Think I’ll just go for a walk on the beach by myself.