Sex appeal is most notably ambiguous, nebulous, and elusive, yet somehow very real and perceptible, despite its seeming haze. Sex appeal goes beyond the sensuous, but definitely includes the data the senses so dutifully collect for us. The quiet boil of passion in Latin and classical guitar, the ethereal perfumes of Japanese incense wafting in the air, the enveloping gush of warm bubble baths, or the sweet juices of ripe strawberries all alert the senses to that little person in our heads murmuring "some pleasure goin' on here."
But sex appeal transcends the senses. Perhaps because the composition of sex appeal— that which is left out of reach of the senses and preserved solely for the folly of the imagination, is what makes something sexy. Only the young and overhormonalized prefer pink shots to the suggestion of exposure. Blatant displays may be functional, but they're not the stuff of steamy seduction. The discreet hint of revelation has boatloads more sex appeal than the obvious.
Sex appeal works most effectively with a certain amount of shutting down of the senses, actually. When a mist settles over the night from sleepiness, when loosened up or just relaxed enough to relent the guard on duty in my brain, I'm at my most susceptible to sexy men and things. The boy who keeps me out late, talking until two in the morning, or at dawn, who nudges me awake but leaves me in the fuzz of morning, is the man I'll think has the most sex appeal. This isn't to suggest that Brad, Johnny, or Scott have ever nudged me awake; at least not in person, that is.
As indeterminate as sex appeal is, some people and things just have it. Tropical paradises have sex appeal; frigid, barren northern Canada doesn't. Candlelit dinners with real linen tablecloths have sex appeal; hospital cafeterias don't. Yoga has sex appeal; hair shirts don't. Hair shirts are just plain weird. Conceptually, the whole notion of penance that doesn't make any tangible attempt at rectifying the misdeed is weird, though. And completely unsexy.