Many things give me pause for thought. There’s the usual stuff, like why do I always seem to have a perfect hair day the day I’ve booked a haircut? Or, when I put on weight, why does it always seem to add itself to my entire body but when I lose it, it only leaves one spot? And the one thought I often return to is: What is the definition of sexy? Having worked in the sex industry (I admit I like to say that for the shock value alone), this was a subject that often came up, if not directly, indirectly. With Valentine’s day less than two weeks away, there seems to be no shortage of marketing campaigns geared to promote or enhance your sex appeal whether you’re single or in a couple. But what is sexy anyway? How do you define it?
The dictionary defines sexy as “sexually suggestive or stimulating” or “generally attractive or interesting”. I don’t know about you, but that’s not how I define sexy. That’s not even how I spell dicktionary but I realize I’m in the minority with my spelling. The fact is I think it’s a vague definition and I’m not really sure I even understand what it means. I find a lot of things “generally interesting” like scientific discoveries of long buried fossils but I wouldn’t call them sexy. Now mind you, if my lover wanted to don an Indiana Jones-type hat and go on an exploratory excavation of the crevices of my body with their tongue, I’d wear my Tilly hat and join in. But I digress…
Paleontology porn aside, I find the notion of what people consider sexy to be quite fascinating. For instance what I thought was physically sexy in my 20’s is far from what I find appealing in my 40’s and I suspect this may continue to change. I’m already looking forward to my 80’s because I think being toothless can have certain advantages. 😉 However, it was on a fateful trip to Las Vegas three years ago that I came face to face with just how much value (sadly) is placed on physical appearance and more specifically on youth in terms of what is considered by most to be sexy.
I hadn’t been on a vacation in 6 years (yes, I’m a workaholic) so I decided to go to Vegas for 8 days (yes, I know now that that is five days too long) with a girlfriend of mine. “Sex & Samosas” was a mess. I wanted to get away from life as I knew it and focus solely on editing the 1,200+ pages of the manuscript I had compiled to date. Before I could begin any serious work I decided to have a large margarita by the pool side at 10:00am because, a) I was on vacation, and b) all writers are drunks, right? (at least that’s the excuse I keep using)
I headed poolside, laptop in hand, wearing a Ralph Lauren tankini that I decided to treat myself to, and sporting a black and white fedora that I thought was its perfect match. As I stretched out in the desert heat feeling damn good about myself and life, the sun was suddenly blocked by two statuesque, young (very young) ladies dressed in cut offs and tank tops. I could tell they were surveying the space to see whether or not it was worthwhile for them to stay. A few moments later a short Hispanic man with a full beard came up to them. He was sweating through his thick cotton shirt and approached the pair trying to cajole them into attending a party at one of the local clubs. The girls barely paid him notice but he continued to badger them telling them it was the hottest party in town and that the tickets were exclusive. They eventually acquiesced and took a ticket each, likely hoping the gesture would make him leave them alone. When he turned away from them I waved him over and said excitedly, “Hey! My girlfriend and I are visiting from Canada. We’d love to come to your party”. He looked me up and down, made a sucking sound with his teeth and said, “Aye mammia….no you.”
Perhaps it was the look of pity mixed with disgust in his eyes or the flip manner in which he wrote me off as either too old, too fat or too unattractive to attend a trendy hot party that set me off, but I felt my heart sink to my feet as he walked away, his fist full of tickets. I downed the rest of my drink, closed up my laptop and went up to the hotel bar and cried into three more margaritas figuring that if I couldn’t be sexy, then at least I had the makings of a great writer.
What made those women sexier than me? I knew rationally that perhaps physically they had a slight advantage over me with their younger, tighter bodies but I felt confident that they couldn’t hold a candle to my wit, knowledge or expertise. Still, it felt like it wasn’t just their youth that presented them with the advantage. It felt like I simply wasn’t considered conventionally sexy.
When I returned home I started to ask everyone what was their definition of sexy. The answers varied greatly. “Nice buns”, “thick hair”, “great smile”, “kindness”, “tight butt”…seems I know a lot of ass lovers. I had the most fun with this question when I attended a speed dating event a few years back. What better place for me to conduct a social experiment? I asked all ten men the same question: “How would you finish this sentence? My definition of sexy is…?”
Three of the men looked me in the eyes and said sheepishly, “You.” None of those conversations went much farther. One guy gave me a delightful answer but there was something about his demeanour that made me think he had duct tape and garbage bags in the trunk of his car, so I passed. The last guy at my table gave me a decent answer and we started to have a lovely conversation until he got to the part where he told me he used to race cars and once met Sylvester Stallone. I lost all feeling in my body and started to babble, “Do you mean to tell me that I just shook the hand of someone who shook the hand of Sylvester Stallone?!” He looked at me the way most people do when I mention my demented obsession with Sly…like I’ve lost my mind. I’m used to it.
You might be quick to think that it’s his muscles or his deep (seriously deep) voice that enamours me to him but I assure you, that is not the case. It’s his humour. Not to mention that Sly is a writer who has created two iconic characters (Rocky and Rambo) and that although he’s practically incoherent, what he does say, when you can understand it, is hilariously funny and rooted in sharp, intelligent wit.
Because for me, what I find sexy is not the physical appearance of someone but their sense of humour and playfulness.
I’ve always found a great sense of humour to be the biggest, sexiest turn on. And just in case you don’t believe me and you think it’s solely the chiselled physique of Sly that appeals to me, I offer another example from my own life.
Once, when I was in India, I visited with some friends of my grandmother. When I arrived at the flat, the woman there took one look at me and picked up the phone to call her son and demand that he come to the house to see me immediately. I could hear him protesting on the phone but his mother said a few sharp words to him in Gujarati and within fifteen minutes he showed up at their flat. He came into the apartment and stood more than 20 feet away from me. His hair was disheveled, half of his shirt was hanging out of his pants and he had such thick shadow on his face that I thought he was wearing a ski mask. There wasn’t a single thing I found physically attractive about him. I started to squirm.
And then he started to talk.
He made jokes about his appearance and what he called “nine o’clock shadow”. He was so funny to me that he literally transformed from looking like a bedraggled bum to a gorgeous guy within minutes. By the time he was standing by my side I thought he was the handsomest man I had ever laid eyes upon. As far as I was concerned, I had met my husband that day and there was no turning back. He was smart, sexy and I was smitten.
Want to know what happened next? Sorry, but you’ll have to wait to read all about that in my memoirs. 🙂
So the Valentine’s parade of half-naked young beauties may continue but they’re not what I consider sexy. For me, a great sense of humour will get you through anything life throws at you and learning to laugh at yourself and all of life’s fortunes and misfortunes is what I consider sexy. Youth doesn’t last forever and physical appearance changes over time, but I think my beloved Rocky would agree what matters isn’t winning but going the distance. A tight butt won’t last forever but a great sense of humour will ensure that you won’t care