I felt sexy for the very first time in the spring of 1965, when I was 18.
I had dropped out of Syracuse University, mid freshman year, and was working at a $65-a-week clerical job for a lingerie manufacturer in Manhattan. I’d been accepted into NYU for the fall semester.
My boss introduced me to her nephew, Vinnie, an NYU sophomore, and I fell for him immediately. Vinnie drove a motorcycle (fast), lived in an apartment downtown, near the university, and was a cool guy (this was the 60s; it was in to be cool). Anything but cool, I did have a fun personality. Mamma Mia! Vinnie found me attractive, and we’d make out in his favorite hangout, a dimly lit, seedy bar near NYU’s pseudo campus of Greenwich Village streets.
Vinnie took me on wild motorcycle rides, when I excitedly clutched him around his hard, muscled torso; invited me to parties at his apartment, and introduced me to his friends. “Good girls” in the mid-60s didn’t have sex before marriage (I don’t think I knew what sex was), but Vinnie elicited tingly new reactions in me, and I began to feel alluring.
Nothing ever came of me and Vinnie. Although I dated during my first two years at NYU, no one turned me on like he did, until I met blonde, blue-eyed, lanky Barry C., editor-in-chief of the yearbook. I started hyperventilating whenever I was within 20 feet of him. Four years my senior, Barry had served for two years in Vietnam, before returning to NYU to complete his undergraduate studies. He was the handsomest man I had ever met, and he was smart and worldly.
After hosting a meeting of the yearbook staff at my parents’ house (I was associate editor and my folks were on vacation), Barry hung back and we wound up, undressed, in my single bed. By this time, I had a rough idea what sex entailed, and although Barry begged and cajoled me to capitulate (“we’ll go to the drugstore; you’ll buy an ice cream cone and I’ll buy foam,” he said), it remained no dice for me. But boy, did he make me feel sexy, even though I continued to look anything but. (By the way, I had to ask Barry what purpose foam served.)
Barry graduated and subsequently married Laura, a real beauty.
A few men, with whom I enjoyed extraordinary sex, have made me feel extraordinarily sexy since the Vinnie and Barry days. Now I’m sitting at my laptop and pondering two questions: 1) What makes a woman feel sexy? and 2) Can we still feel sexy when our hormones are no longer making decisions for our brains?
My short answer to question 1: A woman feels sexy when she’s desired, by a man if she’s heterosexual, and by a woman if she’s gay, to be totally clear. I’m not talking about feeling secure, accomplished, happy, or attractive. I mean just plain sexy, as in sexually appealing. It’s a proven fact that women (or men) don’t have to look like Scarlett Johansson or Brad Pitt, Helen Mirren or Pierce Brosnan, to be sexy. Obese, unlovely, insecure, mean, even bad, people can be sexually appealing.
On to question 2:
Unequivocally yes, we can feel sexy when we’re 50, 60, 70 or 80, with one proviso—that we’re desired.
Sex may not be as orgasmic (literally or figuratively) as it once was, and it may take a great deal more effort to get into “the zone,” but we’re not going to be desired, or desire someone else, if we don’t work at it. And even if we can live perfectly well without actually having sex, it’s no fun to live without physical desire of any kind, once we know how wonderful it is. A gentle touch to the arm, a nuzzle to the neck, an embrace, a soft, warm kiss.
So, if you’re always hanging around with one particular guy—your husband or boyfriend—and if a level of desire, that you desire, is missing in your relationship, my suggestion is to figure out how to bring it back.
P.S. Of course, it’s better to have a respectful and supportive relationship, without desire, than an abusive one, with desire, but why not aim for the stars!