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Tell Me, Have You Seen Her?

I’m not exactly sure what it is about her that sends my senses tumbling, or what arcane power she possesses. But some things are certain: her ability to send me into shivers and her capacity to reduce my speech to goo-goo ga-ga. She can do it without trying, and almost always when I least expect it. She turns my brain into mush every time. She wears many faces and holds many nationalities. I might see her in a crowded bazaar in Tunis where the air is perfumed with sandalwood and jasmine, or she may pass on a downtown Chicago street. I once saw her on an Emirates flight from Dubai to Jeddah, an image I would not see the likes of again for weeks.

No matter what form she takes, she is always exquisite. Perhaps you’ve seen her too. And whatever word we use to describe the adoration that smites us whenever she’s near, we can be sure that she will continue to crisscross our lives throughout time. From small town USA to the world’s most exotic locations – she’s there to remind you that the “perfect” woman exists, that we can get there from here, and that such cravings go beyond those boyhood dreams still unfulfilled.

The peculiar dichotomy is disorienting. I want her and I don’t. My eyes feast on her as she traverses my space in full feminine bloom. I want to slip into her world physically – get to know what turns her on, what drives her wild. I want to smell her, feel the texture of her hair between my eager fingers, taste her inner thigh, satisfy male urges, and still be home in time for supper.

I remember the first time that I became fully aware of the indefinable qualities that sets “her” apart. She had dark mysterious eyes that appeared almost black and her olive skin and slender build gave her an aura that I had not noticed before. She seemed unaware of her beauty, which made her even more attractive, and I loved the dark, glossy hair that tumbled down her back. She had recently arrived from Rio de Janeiro; not the lavish upscale Rio we all think about when we think of Rio, but the impoverished favelas, shantytowns that dot the hills around this famous city. Her English was terrible, but whatever words spilled from her mouth did so in the sexiest of ways. She delighted in simple things, and through her resplendent eyes she expanded my vision to see my own good fortune that I had previously been too blind to see.

If thoughts of Brazil find you conjuring images of Gisele Bündchen, you’re probably not alone. But far from the excessive celebration of wealth, beauty and abundance that I thought was Brazil — I was surprised. The summer that year went swiftly, and so did she, back to her humble roots with memories of Nordstrom, Sephora, and me. Despite her reluctance to leave America, she boarded her plane without tears, saving them perhaps, for when she settled into her seat, beyond the view of my pining heart.

At another time and place, it was a different kind of beauty that I met. My first job interview. I was in a small town in England, straight out of college, and I had arrived amid infamous April showers. I remember walking into the lobby, soaking wet, and dripping onto the stained industrial carpet. And there she was, like an angel, staring at me with mesmerizing tropical-blue eyes and a restrained smile. She was no beauty queen, but she had a welcoming face that could light up any room.

“I’m here to see Mr. … er … Bellamy?” I said, trying to recall the name I had scribbled somewhere.

“You mean, Mr. Bellerby,” she corrected.

“Yeah, that’s it.”

“Would you like a coffee?”

And the rest is history. In the ensuing weeks and months, we became friends. She exuded warmth, and when she smiled, her round face lit up and those eyes held me like a vise.

Where did her magic lie? I could only say that it was divine and untouchable and its origins unknown. And sadly through the unyielding passage of time and the inescapable birth of new relationships, I hardly ever think about her now. But I do remember the aura she cast, and how I’ll always remember dear Hazel.

Occasionally the girl of our dreams finds us as children. As a boy living in Nigeria she entered my life one ordinary day. It was how she smelled that first captured me; like the perfect flower whose scent only I could detect. Her skin was the color of caramel and her hair curled into ringlets like darkened, shiny steel, an exotic Shirley Temple. Like myself, she too was from a mixed marriage, and somehow the blend of African and Italian blood was intoxicating.

She was the most beautiful sight that existed anywhere on earth. I loved her dearly, or at least as dearly as any 12 year-old can love. We often swam together in the pool of one of the upscale hotels near her home, and my senses still recall the honeysuckle-scented soap that she bathed with. Michelle was the epitome of youthful pulchritude, whose heart and spirit were as pure as any child’s was. Sex didn’t yet exist, and a simple kiss could bring a flush to my cheek and a parade of goosebumps triumphantly down my arm.

And how that time flew. So fleeting, so cruel and yet beautiful. When I eventually left Nigeria, I lost contact with her and despite my resolve to find her, that dream like so many others relegated into obscurity, would never be realized.

In a world that is full of love and infatuation, the landscape is forever changing. My chance encounters with these rare women have surely raised more questions, but they are what make the universe so exciting. They have taught me that each woman possesses her own brand of supernatural power, a power that is ready to seduce and annihilate, all in the same sweet breath. Failing that, I am assured that at the very least she’ll own my gaze or cause a stirring in my loins, and I’ll forever be typecast as the reminiscing fool that drools all over her and tirelessly yearns for more of the same.

Copyright © 2002 Terence Kenneth.

Terence Kenneth lives in Toronto, Canada. Contact him at terencekenneth@hotmail.com