In France their game is about life, not sex.
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President Nicolas Sarkozy is an exception to the rule. Indeed, the most likely answer to the frequent question, “Why don’t the French like him?” is that he was slow in mastering the art of appearing seductive. It didn’t help that this second wife, Cécilia, dumped him weeks after he took office, leaving Sarkozy, a teetotalling workaholic who’s not much fun anyway, looking lonely and forlorn.
Even the woman who followed his presidential campaign for a year before the 2007 election and then wrote a book about it, Yasmina Reza, was surprised that he hadn’t tried anything. “It’s almost insulting to spend an entire year with a man,” she later said, “without him trying to seduce you.” But things have improved since he wooed and married Carla Bruni, pop singer, former model, and indisputable prize catch for any seducer. She loyally fosters his new image with comments like, “His physique, his charm, his intelligence seduced me.”
It may well be that Voltaire, that archetypal Frenchman, was right when he wrote, “It is not enough to conquer, one must also seduce.” But to those of us woefully lacking in the seductive arts, it will always seem that there is something sneaky, deceptive, manipulative — in a word, phony — about seduction. It is, after all, an insecure way of getting around people rather than being upfront.
Even Sciolino, who admires French seductiveprowess, admits it has its drawbacks. “Seduction is the best that France has to offer,” she concludes. “When it works, it’s magic.…But it can also entail inefficiency, fragility, ambiguity, and a process that at any time can end badly. When the game comes up against the cold, hard wall of reality, when it reveals itself, seduction fails.”
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