Story Time: Bark vs. Bite

Words are very capable weapons when used appropriately. Particularly when tailored to please the ears of listeners. I myself fall victim to pretty dialogue from time to time and end up kicking myself over it more often than not. 

The problem with words is that they carry no weight. As quickly as they are spoken, they disappear into nothing. Wild promises can trail on for minutes without any sign of permanence. 

Words are fleeting and mean little. Even written ones weigh little more than their spoken counterparts. 

Here is an anecdote about the power of motivational and moving mantras. When I speak of power, I speak specifically on the lack thereof.

Picture a girl sitting at a cafe table. Heat-lamps blaze orange above her, providing welcome warmth to the area she occupies below. A cup of mulled wine sits encircled by one hand, warming her further. Opposite this girl is her companion.

He sits at a recline, slumped with his own cup. Wild black curls sit atop his head and blue eyes pierce their targets with icy precision. He wears eclectic clothing, a uniform unlike anything this girl has ever seen in her years spent in suburbia. He’s like a Scottish Johnny Depp.

The two met each other one week back on the set of a shoot for his brand. High-end t-shirts with politically charged and riotous messages made up the bulk of his product. Those and destroyed denim pieces. They reminded her of the nihilistic and anarchical rockstar anthems of old. She enjoyed the aesthetic. 

His personality was enough to keep her interest piqued as well. 

He was a loose cannon, that could be deduced rather easily. More subtle was his self-righteous oral poetry. Yes, this guy could spew romantic tales of dreams coming true and spin theories on how to win the game of life in a single breath. He was a networking superstar in his own words. She believed him. 

This was the game they were playing that night at the cafe. She prodded, he filled the air with supercharged motivational mantra.  

She sipped her own wine. He gulped down a breath, regurgitated it as sermon: The secrets to success.

This was a time when wisdom about digesting these sorts of minds and the words that populated them was lacking. Instead, the man’s message was supplemented with nods of agreement, with smiles towards the promises laid upon the table below.

Big things were waiting for you! All you have to do is believe and manipulate your way to the top! Look at me! I am selling clothes to Leonardo Dicaprio

Embarrassingly, she was impressed. The grand gestures of the hand, the words spit so freely into the space shared between them, it took little to get her gears turning. Honestly, she was open to his claims because she wanted to believe them for herself. This game was one she wanted to conquer too.

If he could do it, couldn’t she?

Naivete would give away to cynical understanding in due time, but that descent came far later. 

This man was not our female protagonist’s first encounter with impulsive dreamer-types but he certainly was the most successful. In retrospect, this should not have added any credibility. At the time, though, his wanton spending and fancy clothes made him seem very legit.

The problem with narcissistic personality types are that they tend to spew words without having tangible evidence to back them. Their individuality is enough to carry the claims they make into fruition; so they believe. So they lead others to believe. They appear as needles in the haystack and ride this mythos until their truths are exposed. 

During this sweet-spot of ignorance, they can sow seeds into the minds of their audiences. Narcissists’ greatest weapons are their words and, boy, was this one a pro at wielding them. Hours were spent listening to him speak.

His words would form a mantra: play the game. Our female protagonist would fall for it, take this mantra to heart. She was going to be a star and she would do anything to get that. Even hurt herself, even hurt others.

All a matter of playing the game he touted.

Flash forward to a few days after this encounter. The dominoes begin to fall. Here it goes.

No proof? No thanks. Lesson number one. 

He was a talker, that’s it. He had no merchandise, no physical proof of his success as a designer. She was promised clothes for working with him. That promise remains unfulfilled and will remain so indefinitely. Still, he was honest in some aspects right? He had to be if what he said as doctrine could still hold up with reason. But could it?

Lesson number two: dining and dashing does not lend good to anyone’s reputation, period. Yes, our heroine was caught in the crosshairs of a stand off between cheated establishment and cheating patron. The wool was pulled from her eyes then; the scope of this dude’s personality was wholly revealed. 

He suddenly did not seem so inspirational when being berated by an angry waiter. Shamefully he paid the accumulated charges whilst she looked on at her place in the restaurant with horror. She recalls the night they were drinking mulled wine. Did he dash on that trip too? Oh, lord.

Not only was he a fibber, he was a grade-A asshole. The nerve! 

Even so, he was just fulfilling his own mantra. Life’s a game, be a jerk. What more did this curriculum need to convince her that being an honest and hard-working individual was the better alternative to taking shortcuts? A good bout of ghosting might do it.

After a few weeks of constantly sharing each other’s company, the guy left. Flew back to London. They kept in touch at first until he stopped responding, until his number changed. That was that. Never to be seen again.

Does he even exist? Days since last hearing from him: who even knows. Let’s conclude with lesson number three. 

The biggest red flag was his sudden disappearance from all forms of social media. Communication was no longer an option and his “great projects” were set to idle on for what seemed like eternity. Eventually it would re-emerge in secret: his projects. She would inquire about his whereabouts, wonder when they would see each other again. They were not often returned. Even today he exists anonymously still owing her a debt never to be fulfilled.


Many promises were made between them. He said he would help in getting her in to this exclusive club, help nurture her career whilst allowing her to represent his own brand. Connections were another empty promise. Leonardo DiCaprio, his ass! She was left with an alternative perspective that left her isolated; marooned on an island he sent her to.

It was because of his recklessness that she became reckless herself. Now she had to deal with those consequences on her own. Needless to say, the whole three week friendship was a load of boloney. At least she’s wiser for it now.

Narcissists carry lots of words and not much else. Let this tale be a cautionary one. If what they are saying seems to good to be true, it just may be. Authenticity means speaking honestly and refraining from spinning fantasies in the minds of others. That practice is dangerous and, honestly, just plain mean.

I thought we were friends, bro.


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