Saturday, 25 April 2009

Flabby People

Flabby people! Do we not all know them? No matter how limited is our acquaintance, we must know some to whom this adjective applies in its fullest significance; people who never seem to know what to do, where to go, or how to spend their money; who are continually asking for advice, always consulting their friends as to what books they ought to read, what music they should play, what amusements they ought to see - who are, in fact, perpetually falling about in a state of helpless perplexity, like a shape of jelly that will not turn out, but lies in a confused mass on the dish.

"If they only had a little cohesion, a little grit, a little backbone!" we exclaim piteously, but it is a vain wish. Flabby people remain flabby to the end of the chapter. It is no use to prop them up artificially or to try and put new gelatine into them; they only get flabbier and flabbier the longer they live. Whenever a decision has to be made about any ordinary matter and such decisions confront us at every hour in the day - this aggravating flabbiness peeps out with startling distinctness. To drive or not to drive, to dress or not to dress, eat or not to eat, to sing or not to sing, to mourn or not to mourn, to dance or not to dance, to laugh or not to laugh, to speak or not to speak, to bow or not to bow, to visit or not to visit, to frown or not to frown; these are some of the critical problems that flabby people have to solve continually. They are unable to cut the knot by one swift prompt step, and so the daily burden of all these important decisions seem to them almost too heavy to be borne. The old man and his ass, in the fable, is a type of such people. "I really don't know what to decide about this visit to Brighton," says Mrs. Flabbimore to her particular friend; "some people strongly advise me to go, others persuade me not to go; my sisters are all for my going, and my children urge me to give up the idea. It is very hard to make up one's mind. I really don't know what to decide on." And then comes a look of utter bewilderment, which belongs exclusively to our dear flabby friends. They are very fond of sheltering themselves under that indefinite "one," and continually speak of "one's feelings," "one's family," and "one's servants."

Though flabbiness is more a feminine defect than a masculine one, still there are flabby men, and they are even more provoking than flabby women, because we naturally expect to find sturdiness and power of will in the stronger sex. The best thing that can happen to a flabby man is for him to find a strong-minded wife, who is able to rule him as well as herself. Unless he does, he is perpetually falling into unpleasant scrapes, taking somebody's advice and putting his money into rotten investments, or falling a victim to some clever impostor who knows how to gull the unwary. Flabby people are fair game for all kinds of schemers, and prove an easy prey. They answer ingeniously -worded advertisements, sell their curiosities at a loss, and then remark what fools they have been. They are often charitable, amiable, and loving, only - they are flabby! And just as in a mild foggy day, we sometimes long for a sharp north-east wind to blow its vigorous breeze into the dull air, so when we are with flabby people, we often long for prompt decision and firmness, even though they may be accompanied by a brusque manner and a loud dictatorial voice.
Slyvia's Home Journal, 1886

No comments:

Post a Comment

comments are very welcome, but if you need a reply, please do email me instead because sometimes I am very busy and may miss a comment or two.