BEAUTY is in the EYEs—


—of the Beheld?


“What are ye doing?”

Bugger. I thought he was off in far places, taking a sabbatical or whatever. The voice and question echo in my brain. A good question, answer it I dare not. Perhaps if I whisper without moving my lips … that’s me, Argus, Ventriloquist dummy first class. I try anyway.

“Pondering the mysteries of the universe—” There, take that. “—especially those of time and space.”

I sense The Sage settling down beside me and promptly move my bucket of coffee out of ethereal reach. I feel a disembodied chuckle. Not good.

“No need to ponder, Lad. Time is what you can invest but it never earns interest. Space is what you fill but I don’t—”

“Right now I was pondering what it is that makes a woman foxy—”

Doxie? I thought the word was out of favour in these modern times of yours—it means strumpet-like, as in the consort of a rog—”

“No. Not doxie … foxy. It means sort of sexy—”


He oinked. Thank heavens for that, it means I’m not the only one. There’s hope for me yet.

“—it means to be in possession of qualities that stir the blood and set the heart racing—”

“Mosquitoes can do that … and round-shot with hostile intent passing close by—”

“No, no~! Ladies. Damsels, the feminine of our … of my species.”

“Nothing but trouble there, Lad. And you a married man too, you should belay them thoughts—”

“Objectively speaking, that is. It means non-involvement. Like looking in through a window. Scuttle. Port-hole.”

“With women? What’s the point? I never once thought of wenching as a spectator sport.”

For a seventeenth century seafarer he has a modern turn of phrase sometimes. He also has a good point.Yet even as a happily bespoused man I still find forbidden territories intriguing. And sexy. Sue me.

But why? How? Back to the point then: what is it that makes a woman sexy?

Anyway, I’m allowed to look. The Spouse realised very early on that some things she couldn’t change, and my appreciating the passing pulchritude has always been one of them. Look, but do not touch. It works …

Dammit, I enjoy sexy women. I love vibrant people … vibrant: perhaps therein lies a clue.

“Make a list, Lad.”

Good advice, took him long enough. I’ll take it:

1. Vibrant

Great start. Now what? Define it—vibrant; meaning alive, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, smili—

“Got to have a good smile, Lad. I knew a Creole girl once who filled the arms to overflowing and then some but when she smiled it were as if the sun came out—”

2. Great smile

He’s absolutely right. A smile freely given with genuine joy from a vibrant lass covers a multitude of—

“Vibrant? Perhaps ye’d best define it proper, Son.”

Damn. I’m getting jaw ache from all the blasted ventriloquising but so far no-one seems to have noticed or pointedly moved to another table—for once I might just get away with it … okaaay, vibrant. Extraverted—

“That’s another of them modern words, Lad—and I’m nowt but an ‘umble pira—”

Shades of Barbosa, he’s channelling Disney now—pirate? Ye gods, all this time and I never knew.

“It means outgoing, joyous, enthusiastic, vivacious, happy to enliven company—”

“Drinks rum, does she? That’s easy enough. Except at your place, the damn stuff flows like arctic pitch—”

“Naturally, I meant. Not chemically enhanced. And I’m careful of my rum because you always scupper it. And I’ve just thought of another—”

“Being which?”

“Her aspect! She has to be light on her feet and free in her movements, nimble yet graceful such that dresses flow around and caress her shape, follow her movements and cling—”

“Does y’ Spouse know ye’ve got it this bad?”

“What The Spouse doesn’t know won’t hurt me, dammit; and anyway this is just an academic exercise.”

“And she b’ain’t here right now, either. Aaah … so when y’re not with the one y’ love, love the one y’re with?”

“I was in the navy, you know.”

There’s just the very vaguest hint of a cloud subtly developing around my outsized coffee mug. I clamp my hand firmly over the top and draw it closer. Good call, there’s still some left.

3. Aspect

“—and the possibility of the old rumpy-pumpy?”  Dead for several centuries or not, I sense nostalgia in his voice. But he does have a very good point.

Not a necessary point though; many damsels on TV, in the movies, in pictures, in magazines or in the street, shops, cars, buses and so forth can be sexy yet with no possibility of rumpy-pumpy. So it has to be some generic hint of promise then, rather than anything specific or actually attainable.

4. Rumpy-pumpy

“Well done, Lad. ye can take that hand off the tankard now, I shan’t be going there.”

Thank heavens for that. I was beginning to get cramp. Oh no … empty! Ye gods, but how?

“Self-worth too. No doxie can be appealing if she be lacking it—”

“You mean spirit? As in feisty, that don’t-tread-on-me sort of thing?”

“Aye. But it has to be justified, genuine—”

“I know what you mean. No-one finds a doormat sexy; and by association no-one likes an arrogant loud-mouthed crude bit—”

“Aye. Over loud, full of spit and brass but no substance. Quality every time—”

5. Spirit

Visible through the glass doors, on the seats outside are two young women, teenagers, skimpily clad, covered in tatts and smoking like the organic chimneys they so obviously are and with much crossing and recrossing of legs. Sadly they’ve missed the boat completely but doubtlessly will appeal to some tasteless young opportunist looking to scratch an itch; one willing to drink at any well. Good luck to them. Yuk.

“Aren’t we missing the most important of points, Lad?”

The summary? What’s he on about now?

“Ye meets a girl for the first time—p’raps ye’re interduced at a ball. Or ye’ve taken a ship and she’s discovered hiding under the late captain’s bunk—”

“Oink?” Damn.

“Whatever … what’s the first thing that strikes y’ eyes?”

He’s got me there, completely. Wait, the clue is in the wording, right? Clever Sage. Bastard. Of course. Windows to the soul, mirrors of the mind, the one aspect of her aspect neither feminine wiles nor cosmetician’s craft can alter.

“Her eyes?”

“Aye, Lad—” his voice goes all soft and develops that far-away, different times, different climes timbre. “—her eyes. If her eyes don’t appeal nothing else can or will. Even if she has the shape of Salome, the face of Helen, the lustrous silky hair of Cleopatra and be wearing nowt but a few dabs, without them eyes nothing can hold y’r interest for long.”

6. Her eyes

“Mount it from the top box, Lad.”


“Upper case, Son. Capital letters. Rubrics if ye got ’em.”

Damned if he isn’t right, so:


To me at least the foxiest, sexist, most important aspect of a woman’s physical appearance and the essence of her visual appeal has to be her eyes. All else is secondary. It doesn’t matter if she’s built like a willow wand or a brick outhouse, if her eyes don’t appeal nothing else does. Not in that vital first flush as it were …

Damned if it wasn’t worth my bucket of coffee to have the old sod answer my question for me.

Now I can get out there and enjoy the day—lots of lovely eyes loose on the street, such a shame to waste them.




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