While on holiday in Plakias last summer my mate Paul said he’d been at the beach and had got chatting to a beautiful, 20 year old American girl whose relatives had then invited him to spend the following day at their private villa.
As me, Paul and others sat around the Youth Hostel table with some wine the story was chewed over and we mulled WHY a family would be so welcoming to a complete stranger. After a few glasses we surmised that maybe their intentions were not benign and another guy who’d been there said that he’d noticed that the “uncle” who came over when Paul started talking to the girl had been very protective and that “his body language was right off”. He added that he thought there was some kind of sexual relationship between them and if he WAS her blood uncle then this was just plain weird not to mention incestuous. He then stated that their spoken inflection was odd and they seemed to be only too keen to get Paul to go with them.
We thought about this and decided that they were almost certainly some kind of religious cult and Paul should categorically NOT go to meet them the next day.
He cheerfully replied that they were swinging by the next day in their Winnebago to pick him up.
We winced and said that that DEFINITELY meant they were a cult as they were probably travelling round Crete trying to pick up young men like Paul to convert.
Paul decided to take our advice.
Next day I was mowing the hostel lawn when three very serious looking men in Ray Bans and a young, phwooarsome girl approached and asked if I’d seen Paul. I replied no, trying to be nice but shielding my friend from this unspeakable cult of religious nuts, no matter how well meaning they may be. They wandered around the hostel for a bit, shouting his name and then left.
That night the conversation was abuzz with the story of their visit. He’d been hiding in the pool bar down the road where they’d found him and he’d arranged to go and spend the day with them tomorrow. We tutted and tried to talk him out of it. I pointed out how persistent they’d been trying to find him and he shrugged and said it was ok.
Next evening he came back saying how they’d had the biggest private swimming pool he’d ever seen and had spoilt him rotten giving him beers and food all day. While he appeared to be in one piece, had no lobotomy scars and wasn’t talking about the reverand Moony we still assumed he was being groomed and advised him to back off before he was whisked away.
A few nights later we found out they were leaving and were going to be in town taking Paul out for the night. New information was that her dad was one rank below a general in the US Army and we then concluded that the guys in Ray Bans weren’t religious button men but were instead bodyguards, handpicked by daddy with instructions to give his daughter a good holiday and whatever she wanted. Their constant, protective presence around her confirmed our suspicions and when we also found out that she was married at 19 and currently awaiting divorce at 21…well, what further proof could you need?
Later that night I was chatting to one of the Ray Ban guys. I bought him a drink and then casually said “what rank are you?”.
He replied “rank of what?”
“Huh? I’m not in the army”.
At that moment a certain embarrassed clarity appeared and I realised that far from being the intelligent and perceptive man I’d always thought I was, I had in fact been extremely judgmental and ignorant.
These were just ordinary people who happened to like Paul and were trying to cheer up their friend and/ or relative who was feeling down after her marriage failed.
We became suspicious of them for being decent people. We assumed the worst and added our own motivation to their actions and desires as we couldn’t comprehend how anyone would be that generous to someone they barely knew.
I realised then that I very often assume that people can’t be trusted and those who have an abundance of characteristics that we supposedly admire in society, are distrusted as a result.
I was ashamed of how me and the others had gosipped and was very glad that these lovely people didn’t know what we’d talked about.
Not everyone who’s generous and kind to strangers is a secret predator. Some people are just NICE.