Maupassant's Short Stories Vol. 9 HTML version

The Effeminates
How often we hear people say, "He is charming, that man, but he is a girl, a regular girl."
They are alluding to the effeminates, the bane of our land.
For we are all girl-like men in France--that is, fickle, fanciful, innocently treacherous,
without consistency in our convictions or our will, violent and weak as women are.
But the most irritating of girl--men is assuredly the Parisian and the boulevardier, in
whom the appearance of intelligence is more marked and who combines in himself all the
attractions and all the faults of those charming creatures in an exaggerated degree in
virtue of his masculine temperament.
Our Chamber of Deputies is full of girl-men. They form the greater number of the
amiable opportunists whom one might call "The Charmers." These are they who control
by soft words and deceitful promises, who know how to shake hands in such a manner as
to win hearts, how to say "My dear friend" in a certain tactful way to people he knows the
least, to change his mind without suspecting it, to be carried away by each new idea, to be
sincere in their weathercock convictions, to let themselves be deceived as they deceive
others, to forget the next morning what he affirmed the day before.
The newspapers are full of these effeminate men. That is probably where one finds the
most, but it is also where they are most needed. The Journal des Debats and the Gazette
de France are exceptions.
Assuredly, every good journalist must be somewhat effeminate--that is, at the command
of the public, supple in following unconsciously the shades of public opinion, wavering
and varying, sceptical and credulous, wicked and devout, a braggart and a true man,
enthusiastic and ironical, and always convinced while believing in nothing.
Foreigners, our anti-types, as Mme. Abel called them, the stubborn English and the heavy
Germans, regard us with a certain amazement mingled with contempt, and will continue
to so regard us till the end of time. They consider us frivolous. It is not that, it is that we
are girls. And that is why people love us in spite of our faults, why they come back to us
despite the evil spoken of us; these are lovers' quarrels! The effeminate man, as one
meets him in this world, is so charming that he captivates you after five minutes' chat.
His smile seems made for you; one cannot believe that his voice does not assume
specially tender intonations on their account. When he leaves you it seems as if one had
known him for twenty years. One is quite ready to lend him money if he asks for it. He
has enchanted you, like a woman.
If he commits any breach of manners towards you, you cannot bear any malice, he is so
pleasant when you next meet him. If he asks your pardon you long to ask pardon of him.
Does he tell lies? You cannot believe it. Does he put you off indefinitely with promises