Tuning In To The 'Turn On'
Select Magazine January 1983
Next time you idly fiddle with your hair or fix a puncture, beware! You just might be having a quite unexpected effect on an innocent bystander. Christopher Long volunteered to do some research into what turns people on and came up with some amazing results
By Christopher Long
Some of the things that turn us on really are very strange. I've had quite a lot of fun in the last few days chatting up my friends to find out what sort of things get them 'in the mood' and made the interesting discovery that just asking them the questions and hearing the replies got me in the mood within seconds!
The first person I tackled was Sue. I've known her for years but she still seemed rather shocked when I asked her what turns her on.
"Well, I don't know," she said, playing for time. "What sort of thing do you mean?"
What she was thinking was 'does he mean something naughty but nice or does he want to know all about my secret cravings to be spanked on my bare bottom by a stern, bowler-hatted businessman with a rolled up umbrella on the 8.50 from Paddington'.
"Oh, you know the sort of thing," I said nonchalantly. "Knickers and things like that..."
"Ah, I see what you mean," she said, and I could see relief written all over her face. "You mean sort of naughty but nice?"
"Yes," I agreed, "but not too nice!"
Soon we were away. We were at Wimbledon. Sue has been a tennis fan for years. But it was only when she was in her late twenties that she made an extraordinary discovery. It was the bottoms that grabbed her. While a thousand heads turned this way and that all around her, glued to the rallying ball, Sue's eyes had for years developed a curious habit of lingering on the muscular male thighs, the tight, white pants and the hidden, forbidden fruit beneath.
"I know the feeling," I said ambiguously, hastening to add that it was the smooth, curvy, sun-tanned thighs of the girls that made it so difficult for me to give an accurate, ball-by-ball account of the match later on.
"And lorry drivers," she added. "Really huge, loutish lorry drivers with big ginger-haired arms leaning out of the window. I would hate them if they came anywhere near me, but they give me a funny feeling all the same."
One bottle of Chianti later I decided that I had never known Sue at all. I liked her even better, of course, but I saw her with new eyes as she went on to tell me how convenient it is that the curtains in changing booths in boutiques never quite shut properly, thus providing endless pleasurable possibilities, depending on whether you're feeling exhibitionistic or voyeuristic at the time. "So much more fun than boring old communal changing rooms!" she assured me.
My next victim was a colleague from work. Very pretty, very businesslike and a successful career woman, you'd never think that she'd had the time or the inclination to indulge in fantasies or erotic thoughts during the working day. Nevertheless, she surprised me and I think herself too when she remembered how someone once came to clean the telephone.
"It was very odd, but I watched the way she held the receiver in one hand and sort of stroked and caressed it with the other hand, getting her duster into all the hidden places and smoothly running her hand over all its curves... it had quite an effect on me!"
And she might have had quite an effect on a male friend who finds himself obsessed by the thought that cool, businesslike women might, just might, be wearing very sexy underwear under their pin-stripe suits.
"It's just the idea that hidden from view they're actually like volcanoes! You know, a secret lava of frilly silk knickers under the severe, forbidding exterior." All of which must be a fantasy that women understand only too well.
As a car driver in London I had been fascinated for years by the enchanting sight of lovely creatures perilously perched on bicycles and the delicious glimpses that a too-tight skirt or gust of wind could provide.
Recently I too bought a bicycle and I quickly learnt that there's a great camaraderie among cyclists. We stop and chat at the traffic lights and there's great gallantry in the way we allow the girls to move off first so that we can admire their bottoms from behind.
Which was how I met Caroline. Her chain had come off and she was covered in oil and grime and smudges all over her face. After we'd fixed the chain and she'd come back to my flat to have a wash, we were soon talking about the pro's and con's of bicycling in London which eventually led me to ask, quite innocently of course, why women always seemed to be wearing the most unsuitable sort of clothes to be bicycling in.
"Of course!" she said. "It's much more fun like that. It's quite exciting to know people can get a glimpse every now and then - especially when you're safely on a bike. After all, you can't get much safer than sitting on a saddle, can you, and no one's likely to molest you because you can cycle faster than they can run!"
"It's always a great turn-on to turn other people on, don't you think?" she asked.
Caroline would have got on well with Robert. He still dreams of the day when some lovely creature will be dumb enough or clever enough to do a Marilyn Monroe and repeat that famous scene when she stood over a ventilator grill in the pavement and a whoosh of hot air revealed everything from her toes to her waist!
On the other hand, some of the things that turn men on may surprise a lot of women. A twenty year old says he can watch women sewing, cooking, or working with total concentration and get increasingly 'interested'. The real 'killer', he says, is the college library where he studies. It doesn't matter too much what the girl looks like, but the fact that he's watching her while she's totally absorbed in her books at the next table turns him on every time.
"I remember one girl who used to gently rub one foot up and down the back of her other leg and kept running the point of her pencil through her hair. It drove me mad but I really can't remember what she looked like!"
And a girlfriend tells me that she loves watching a man working hard, getting oily, dirty and sweaty as he repairs her car or fixes the washing machine.
"When they're really having a hard time, getting hot and angry and swearing it just turns me on! I want him right there and then but I know I can't have him because he'll just swear at me and tell me to get him a spanner or something. And that's even better!"
Some turn-ons are obvious, like the innocent pleasures of an old friend from my student days. He used to spend lunchtime each day walking miles to Lincoln's Inn Fields where nubile girls would cavort around the netball ground. They offered what seemed like acres of pink flesh and tight-fitting knickers under skirts that seemed to defy gravity and anyway wouldn't have kept the rain off a hamster.
Some turn-ons are almost universal. How many women don't find it rather sexy to be pampered, preened, combed and cosseted in the warm, steamy atmosphere of a hairdresser's shop? How many men can resist the starchy, but motherly and erotically unattainable appeal of nurses in uniform?
But some turn-ons are truly odd. Like an elderly widow who admits she used to get quite aroused by watching her husband languidly stroking their dog and, amazingly, watching him bury his hand into the guts of a rabbit before preparing to skin it.
And what turns me on? Well, one girl I spoke to told me that she once got turned on by writing very naughty things on lavatory walls (but she grew out of it a long time ago!). When she refused to tell me what she'd written I got quite turned on just wondering about it!
© (1983) Christopher Long. Copyright, Syndication & All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
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