Autobiography of an Androgyne/Appendix 1
IMPRESSIONS OF THE AUTHOR
By a Business Associate
[The editor, although aware of the identity of the writer of this sketch, omits his name upon his request.— A. W. H.]
My acquaintance with the author dates back over eleven years to the day when I commenced work in the same large office where he was employed. We continued to work in the same room and in close association for five years, and have kept up a close friendship for the six subsequent years. On entering my new place of work, he was one of the first persons to attract my attention because of his rather peculiar cast of features. My second distinct memory of him is of entering the office to find him weeping bitterly as he sat at his desk. Since masculine tears are a rather unusual sight, I instituted inquiries and learned that his chief had just called his attention to an error discovered in his work. A third very early memory was of the author's coming up to me, and saying after we had exchanged a few words: 'Did you know I am a woman?" After beholding for a moment my mystification, he said: "I was only joking." He went on his way, leaving me trying to unravel the question as to wherein the joke lay.
Other incidents like the two described tended to confirm my original impression that he was a rather eccentric individual, as he was indeed generally regarded by the office staff, who, however, at the same time recognized his good qualities.
About a year elapsed before our acquaintance assumed any degree of intimacy, and it was only after a second year had elapsed that he confided to me his history as outlived in the autobiography. His thus making me his confidant I attribute in large measure to the circumstance that he had learned at a relatively early date that I had read Krafft-Ebing's "Psychopathia Sexualis," and was therefore presumably in a position to give a sympathetic and intelligent hearing. Whether this was the underlying reason or not, it was an important factor in determining my attitude towards him, since the practices consequent on his abnormality inspire me with intense disgust. Only the conviction that he was no more responsible than was Dr. Holmes' Elsie Venner for her obliquity could have induced me to associate on terms of intimacy with one who resorted to such practices. In fact I had been for some years previously acquainted with a man notorious throughout his community for these same practices, but always avoided him whenever possible.
As a matter of fact, it would be difficult for any but the most bigoted, knowing the author of this autobiography, to impute wilful perversion to him. In his general habit of thought, he has always shown an austere morality that caused him at times to be referred to playfully in the office as "Cato the censor." At the same time he in many ways so much guilelessness and lack of worldly wi:dom as to make it impossible to believe that this moral austerity could be merely a mask of deep-dyed hypocrisy. It is, in fact, difficult to associate with him without being convinced of his deep religious feeling. Going to church appears to be indeed one of the chief joys of his life. Because it would keep him from the church service, I have even known him to decline an invitation to dinner from an old friend whom he had not seen for several years and to whom he was under great obligations. In fact I have myself come to regard attendance at church services on Sunday as inevitable a feature of my visits to the author's home as it is of my visits to my parents, these being in fact the only occasions on which I attend church.
My characterization of the author's personal appearance would be as mild and ovine (that is, sheeplike). A young lady co-laborer of his in the office said on one occasion when some of us men had been teasing him that he looked "like a frightened bunny." Most persons would probably set him down as somewhat lacking in the more forceful, virile quality. He conveys the impression, as it were, of always being on the point of apologizing for the fact that he exists.
He proved to be an admirable subject for teasing, and some of us at the office got as much fun out of teasing him as we would from teasing and playing tricks on our girl friends, and his reaction to it was essentially feminine—a sort of pleased childlike pride at being the object of attention.
He also at times displayed typically feminine reactions of disgust at repulsive or seemingly repulsive objects. On one occasion, for example, he tore off and threw away the cover of a publication on his desk in the office which had been stained with red ink, because it looked like blood.
In my own judgment, the aspect in which he displays most strongly the feminine attributes is in his capacity for lavishing trust and affection upon unworthy objects. During my acquaintance with him he has at different times had two friends for whom he had especially strong affection, even to the extent of taking them into his own abode; and in one case going so far as to talk of adoption. From his own account of his relations with these young men, the inference which the disinterested listener would draw was that they were persons who were playing a good thing for all it was worth. According to his own statement, they were mulcting him, on one pretext or another, of large sums of money, albeit always on some colorable excuse. He always, however, affirmed their essential goodness of character and refused to believe that they could be otherwise, even when they were acting towards him in the most unfeeling manner. 'To my mind, in his relations with these acquaintances, he afforded an almost perfect parallel to the woman who, wedded to a drunken brute, nevertheless remains faithful and adoring to the end.
Another somewhat feminine trait is a sensitiveness that is readily moved to tears. I have already referred to the time when he wept over an implied criticism of his work. An equally characteristic episode occurred later, during a visit to his home from his mother. One night he was caught in a heavy rain, and reached home drenched to the skin. The next morning, his face convulsed and tears hardly kept back, he told me of his fear that he was losing his love for his mother because he did not feel like talking to her the night before—as if forsooth a drenching would not have dampened the desire for speech in any man.
One other trait worth mentioning—because it is one that I regard as more or less feminine—is a certain lack of perspective, a tendency to allow minor details to bulk as large in his eye as major. This showed itself in his work, which, though always characterized by thoroughness, was frequently too much so, the really vital things being allowed to become obscured by a mass of detail of minor importance.