Diaries Magazine

Bird of Prey.

Posted on the 29 June 2012 by Ellacoquine @ellacoquine

Bird of Prey. Illustration by Jessica Durrant
I was such an idiot when I first moved to Paris. I didn't realize how desperate I was to make friends, and create connections that I was accepting some real low quality people into my life. Anything to feel like I truly lived in the city I was so in love with...
So I was watching yet another episode of a television show that I have to stop mentioning in fear that you will all grow suspicious that the network is paying me to plug them. Rest assured that there is no network, and certainly no paychecks coming my way. I'm just a loser who watches shows years after they go off the air. I'm mentioning it again because there was one episode that absolutely terrified me. The episode that shook me to my core wasn't about murderers, ghosts, devils or spirits, it was about a young girl who falls prey to a predatory sociopath. 
I saw myself staring back at myself.
I have somewhat of a history with sociopaths. I have some in my family, some who are long lost friends, and some former sublets named Katie. I tend to attract these kind of people because I'm a trusting person. Not so much these days, but I was, especially when I first moved to Paris when my defenses were low and I assumed that people had better things to do with their time than focus on, and attempt to ruin the lives of others. Call me crazy.
So what ever did happen to the Phil? You know the 55 year old retired American professor living in Paris who was such a dominant character in my earlier posts. Why did he drop off the face of my blog never to be heard from again? Because he was a predatory sociopath, preying on my vulnerability.
So I met Phil at an art show in the Marais shortly after a short stint of Lucien stalking me because he wanted to get back together after deciding that he could live with my "hips fats". So that alone tells you that my head wasn't screwed on straight. From the get-go I should have realized that something wasn't right. The first red flag should have been when he befriended a former friend, Adelle mere weeks after I met him. Adelle, a French girl with a four year old son was excommunicated from our expats in Paris group of friends for trying to find her poor son a replacement father with all of our boyfriends. I also found out that she had sabotaged my employment at a huge French fashion house where she also worked. After several interviews for a position that I was more than qualified for, she contacted HR to inform them that I was using drugs in the bathroom of a party we were all at. It wasn't true at all. There wasn't enough to go around! I kid, I went into the bathroom to gossip. I can't resist bathroom girl talk, especially at a party after several glasses of champagne and honestly didn't know that my current company had some party favors. So you get it, this girl is evil. Well Phil was aware of all of these horrid stories of this demon in Dior and still pursued a friendship with her when he was supposed to be my new friend. I woke up one morning in my first apartment in the 15th, logged into Facebook, and what do I see? Phil at Adelle's birthday party? How was that even possible? I should have just let those two have each other, but I didn't and continued my friendship with Phil.

Once Phil realized that Adelle was a weak link in our group and nobody was bothering with her manipulations, he dropped his to focus on her and moved on to someone stronger in my life: my new boyfriend...MF. I'll never forget his first attempt. The Marais. Early 2010. Phil and I were heading to MF's restaurant on a cool winter's eve. We walked in to find MF and his father talking to an American girl, a customer who had just eaten dinner and was on her way out. It wasn't until MF's father told me that she was American that I was aware because of how well she spoke French. She was slightly standoffish to me as I asked her where she was from, what brought her to Paris, and all the questions you ask someone in another country who shares your nationality. I wasn't sure if she was blowing me off or if she was just shy, almost reminding me of the female Garth in Wayne's World 2. Either way, her lack of interest in me was apparent. I blew off her perplexing response to me and helped MF's brother Petit Flâneur close up. "Garth" excused herself as she was running late to go see Sexy Dance 2, the French title for Step Up 2 at Châtlet. No comment. Phil took this opportunity to escort this complete stranger to the theater. When he returned he looked at MF, and with mischievous eyes said, "That girl likes you." MF politely smiled at him and quietly went back to wiping down the cafe tables. I knew Phil was trying to get a reaction from me so I ignored him which only made him push further. "MF, I think you're going to see that girl again," he said nodding his head as if my boyfriend was about to get lucky that night with some random chick. "I told her that you know the Marais really well and that you should show her around." MF looked at me, looked at Phil, and then back at me to confirm if he understood what he was doing. At this point, I stepped in. "What are you doing, Phil?" I asked with exasperation by his childish attempts. "What?" he looked at me as if it was me who was overstepping major boundaries. After unnecessarily explaining why he was being inappropriate, he stood up and said, "Not everything is about you, little princess. This is about MF and that girl." And he stormed out. I then translated the entire interaction to MF who of course called me dramatic which was starting to make me feel like I was going insane for thinking something was wrong.It gets worse...

The following day, I was having coffee at Au Chat Noir, my neighborhood cafe in Oberkampf and who walks in? Garth, and she appeared to be looking for someone. Our eyes met and I waved to her. At the sight of me she started back-stepping towards the door, about to leave. This is when the New York girl in me came out. I got up from my seat and I approached her. "Hi there," I said looking at her as if she was insane, "I met you, like 12 hours ago, hi." She looked back at me and said hello while nervously gripping her bag. "What brings you over here?" I asked, remembering that she had said that she lived in the 16th, by Trocadero. For those of you who know Paris know that Trocadero to Oberkampf isn't exactly a short trip, in fact it's quite a hike, especially at 9:30 am. "That Phil guy told me this was a great café, and that the nice guy from the restaurant in the Marais lives around here." Her eyes glazed over in a dream-like state at the mention of the nice guy from the restaurant.

I am not a jealous girlfriend, I generally let this kind of thing go, but the fact that she had crossed town to come find my boyfriend needed to be addressed. I had to get a little Blair Waldorf on her and let her know that her behavior is frowned upon. I don't talk like that. I didn't even recognize myself. It's like when my cat used to hiss and would then look around to see if he did it right because of how gentle he was. Looking back, I was wrong to attack her, perhaps she didn't see me kiss MF, it was Phil's fault for leading her there under the false pretense that he was single. One of the traits of a predatory sociopath is to isolate the victim from others so they rely on them. And he was only getting started...

I have since Googled him and found his Linked In page that included links to his manuscripts and dissertations on strategic mind control and its influence on others, consumer persuasion, and the psychology of controlling others.  I felt sick. Sick because I was used as a guinea pig to aid one of his studies, and lending a hand in destroying my life was just a minor casualty in research.
Before seeing this episode, I thought I was the only one who has dealt with this kind of personality. It took me longer than it should have to cut him off, but based on some of his growing aggressive behavior like lighting napkins and letters on fire in my mailbox (which he admitted), it could have escalated.
I'm sorry that this post is so dark right before the weekend, but this experience has rattled me, and if I can save someone from what I went through, than a less than Coquine post is worth it. If it doesn't seem right, it normally isn't. I have to stop beating myself up for not listening to my instincts screaming at me to get away from this guy. I guess we live and learn, right?

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