Con After Con

Con after con – novels, films, plays – comedies to dramas – all are replete with stories of con men & women out doing  & undoing the normal “guy” or “gal”.

When a con man – a sociopath – gets the best of you – you have to tell someone, or several someones – about it. I did. Most people were amazed. All people eager to listen, to  a point. All were sympathetic. Quite a few had been in relationships with sociopaths themselves.

Then there was that group who just didn’t get it in a big way.
They had Questions.
“How did you fall for that!?” “Didn’t you know he was a scammer?” 

In addition to stories of cons in the news constantly, our entertainment is swollen with con stories. Many of them based on true stories. And yet at a real life, personal level the one scammed can come into question and – we ourselves can hold onto doubt.

“Did I do something to make it happen?”
I have Answers to both: Anyone can fall for a con.
No one can recognize a con man and fall for the con!
You did nothing to make it happen.

It’s a common thought that writers can only write about what they know. – Seems like a lotta writers are very aware of cons. – Why are true life victims of con after con given anything but support in the face of this horrific trauma?

Keep in mind, if a friend you’re confiding in isn’t empathetic they are not “bad” – just unaware – and, at this time, not right for you to tell your story to or look to as a shoulder or a rock.  – Please, sweet girl or guy – move on to someone who is empathetic, sympathetic, nonjudgmental and loves you, as your support person while in recovery.

Here’s a classic comic film example of how a con artist thinks:

In the 1988 Steve Martin, Michael Caine hit: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, the first 13 minutes of the film reveals the utter truth about con artists. At 11 minutes and 52 seconds in we hear the kernel of a con artist’s functioning affably, nonchalantly voiced by kind, goofy, and lovable funnyman, Steve Martin.

As the audience we have seen both Michael Caine and Steve Martin set up and pull off mini-scams, The two men are strangers to one another, both passengers on a train to a village in France populated by notoriously wealthy inhabitants. Michael Caine has observed Steve Martin’s scenario scamming a woman out of an abundant meal in the dining car using a story about his sick grandmother. Finally they meet in a private passenger car. Michael Caine hiding his own true-scamming-self feels out Steve Martin – con man to con man:

Mr. Martin, a “regular, good-hearted guy”
entering the train compartment where
Mr. Caine, a “dapper nobleman” reads a newspaper:

Mr. Martin:   …Forgot I had a first class ticket. (Opens blinds.) That bother you?
Mr. Caine:      No.

Mr. Martin:    (Blithely singing) “I love to love you in the night…”

Mr. Caine:      I couldn’t help overhearing your conversation in the dining car.
  My condolences to your grandmother.
Mr. Martin:    Hhuuuh? Oh! (Chuckles.) Oh Ha… Right.

Mr. Caine:      Didn’t you say she was taken ill?

Mr. Martin:    I tell ’em what they wanna hear if it gets me what I want.

Mr. Caine:      Rather a shabby trick isn’t it?

Mr. Martin:    I can tell you’ve got a lot to learn about women.

Mr. Caine:      Yes, I’m afraid I am a bit naive when it comes to the weaker sex.

End Scene. – And Con Man 101 Class.

Here are a few films and novels centered on a con and con artists.

Paper Moon, Starring Ryan and Tatum O’Neal
The Grifters, starring Annette Bening, John Cusack
American Psycho, starring Christian Bale
Wolf of Wall Street, starring Leonardo DiCaprio
The Sting, starring Robert Redford and Paul Newman
Sleeping with the Enemy, starring Julia Roberts
Catch Me if You Can, starring Leonardo DiCaprio
The Talented Mr. Ripley, starring Matt Damon, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Tess of the D’Ubervilles, written by Thomas Hardy
East of Eden, written by John Steinbeck
The Lodger, written by Marie Belloc Lowndes
Match Stick Men, written by Eric Garcia

Catch Me if You Can, written by Frank W. Abagnale
The Talented Mr. Ripley, written by Patricia Highsmith

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