My first encounter with the Narc
Call it female intuition or plain old sixth sense but there is something absolutely strange and unsettling when you first encounter a narcissist. Like something is just ‘not right’. I experienced it first hand when I joined a very small tech magazine and met the N for the very first time. He was below average looking, his face peppered with large pores and pimples, 5’7 feet tall, and a large protruding butt like a woman’s. His clothes, drabby and old school like how an older uncle would dress. Yet, he maintained a sense of superiority that I didn’t quite understand.
Two minutes into a general discussion and I realized he was eloquent. Seriously eloquent! He was an editorial assistant like myself. The lowest of the rung. In the publishing world, eloquence and articulateness can take you a long way. He was also quick to mention that he went to the most elite school of the city. Me, on the other hand, went to a very humdrum all-girls school. I took my unsettling feeling about him as mystique and interest in his overall presence and aura.
Throughout that conversation I noticed that he would avoid making eye contact with me or answering any direct questions I posed at him. He kept his attention entirely throughout the conversation at other male colleagues.
Stuck in a large workspace with little privacy and four incredibly devoted geekoids (narc included), I knew I had to make at least one friend to get me through the day. So when another editorial assistant (not the narc) I had previously interacted with asked me to take a quick break outside, I jumped at the opportunity. We stood outside for less than 5 mins before the narc decided to join us as well. I assumed that he was invited to our little stress break by the male colleague. I just recently found out that even the male colleague hated him to a point of distraction.
One month into this job, all three of us, male colleague, narc and myself were sent to a creative agency to edit and change the text of the magazine. The narc refused to take his car so we rode in the male colleagues to the place which might’ve been less than 15 minutes away from the office. Male colleague and I hit it off and passionately discussed all the books that we loved. I could tell the Narc wasn’t really enjoying our conversation but stayed aloof and quiet throughout the ride. Soon, we started discussing our writing styles and books that we plan to write somewhere in the future. I mentioned guiltily that I had a personal blog. Male colleague jumped at this and told me he had one too.
The narc who was quiet throughout the way, instantly asked me the address to the blog. I found it strange that he would avoid talking to me but would actually like to read my blog? I changed the subject and continued my attention on the male colleague.
In another few weeks, I started noticing that the narc was slowly and gradually becoming the blue eyed boy of the editor. She would praise his writing skills, his previous experience and his eye for detail. As I secretly opened one of his edits, I realized that he had an incredible sense of picking out factual and grammatical errors and constructing technically perfect pieces of writing. The mystique had now grown into a fascination but by no means a crush. True to my superficial self, I was still fazed by the acne and bad dressing.
Rounding up the prey
One day when all three of us editorial assistants were at the agency fixing copy for another issue, I found myself sitting alone with the narc. I always find myself babbling and doing unnecessary small talk when I’m conscious. And just sitting there, the narc was making me terribly self conscious. Knowing his background and my perceived admiration for his writing and editing skills, I asked him to go over all my edits. He started correcting them like a teacher would and not a colleague at the same level.
Editing led to talking, and the narc kept the entire attention on me. I know what you’re thinking. Arent I the real narc? But really, after being cooped up in a completely new environment, it felt nice to tell someone how bored and annoyed I was at working in a tech magazine when my real interest was fashion. Pretty soon, he had gotten me so comfortable that I had already shared that I was applying to other places for a position. He was funny, charming and I almost felt like he could read me so easily.
The conversation ended abruptly when the creative director at the agency came out screaming loudly at the male colleague. She was 5’10, and fit to wrestle an alligator and of course scared the shit out of all of us. She was pissed at all of us for something we hadn’t even done. So I turned around to look at the narc who was sitting beside me on the couch and found him sitting uncomfortably in an almost homosexual, emasculated way. Much like when a dog tucks his tail between his legs.
The mystique and fascination about him flew out the window in exactly a second.
Stuck with the narc
The male colleague was soon placed to sit right next to me which was a comfort because he seemed to get me and wasn’t easily emasculated by a large woman screaming on the top of her lungs. We chatted while working on the work messenger for hours. I had officially started enjoying work a little and had found some peace.
I also knew the male colleague was developing some feelings for me. He would often comment on the way I smelt or looked. I found it endearing since he was a few months younger than myself and ignored it mostly.
There was already some animostity brewing between the narcissist and the male colleague. They would often disagree at meetings and find themselves headbutting over useless issues. Male colleague was better at expressing himself and was easier and more fun to be around. Narc was more stoic and kept a straight face even when making a joke.
A week after, male colleague decided to quit the job. He had gotten in at a prestigious university for a master program and had to leave immediately. Our editor was furious and he went immediately from his good guy status to the devil for out editor. She made his leaving absolutely impossible. Refused to write him an experience letter or pay his last month salary which he had worked his butt off for.
On male colleagues last day of work, the narc decided to send me a friend request on facebook. I found it strange that at work he would barely make any conversation but wanted to be friends with me on Facebook. I put him on my limited profile and didn’t really care what he wanted from me. Once male colleague had left, I started getting instant messages by the narc. We started talking only because there was no one else to really talk to.
What I didn’t know then was that by this time he had scoped my personal blog as well as my facebook profile completely and knew my life experiences, interests, friends and sense of humour better than myself.
What started from then, is a friendship that I often assumed was like one between Carrie and Stanford. And from the emasculated position that I once saw him in, I assumed that he really was a closeted homosexual. How else could he understand everything about me so easily?
And boy could he bitch and gossip! He would make the snarkiest comments about our editor and her assistant editor. We named pretty much everyone who we knew and didn’t know at the building with funny nicknames. In less than a months time, we were developing a secret language that could explain every behavior of our editor. His observational sense was so unique that he could understand what I would say without me even mouthing it.
Monthly Meetings with the editor were the most painful. She would throw back my ideas and embrace every one of his. I would constantly tease him about sucking up the editor. But he already founf his throne and I was still struggling to get my point across to her. She intimidated me and I would back down my ideas immediately.
At the same time, we had started talking on and off online
Often at meetings, I would often find him observing my facial expressions when no one was looking.
A change that came during those days was my insecurity about my own writing and editing skills. I started asking him to recheck my work before submitting it. As a narc you would expect him to enjoy this constant stroking of his inflated ego, but instead he wouldnt do it unless I absolutely begged him. I also started questioning my grammar. Making fun of myself when I pronounced a word wrong or said something grammatically incorrect. I even changed the tone of my voice to sound more mature and articulate.
Red Flags Ignored
What I should’ve known then was that I was dealing with a textbook cerebral narcissist. This know-it-all, robotic person with his empty emotionless eyes was using his intelligence to slowly lure me in. He had already garnered adulation and adoration from the editor herself. And was now purposefully reading me like a book.
The awkward emasculated position that I saw him was his real true self. Most cerebral narcissists are latently homosexual. His immediate interest in the male colleague was also an indication of his interest in the same gender. And my inward comparison of him to being Stanford from Sex and the City was so apt. Now that I think about it, during those days, he walked and talked slightly feminine too. But that all changed in a few months.
That insecurity that he was breeding in me was by putting down people based on their intelligence or intellectually level. He would often make fun of writers and even our editors grammatical and spelling errors. In essence, I was slowly and gradually becoming him with my smooth verbose and flowery language.