OK, deep breath. I can’t believe I’m even going to utter the C word on this blog. No, the other C word, you dirty dogs. Cougar. There. I said it, and just because I said it and just because I’m writing about it, doesn’t mean I am one, or close to being one, or preoccupied about being one. Or maybe I’m just kidding myself, depending on your definition, which is, my friends, the crux of the problem. The term “cougar” is bandied about with such frequency these days that it’s hard to avoid it – especially if you just so happen to be a woman approaching the age when such a term might apply.
Listen, I’ve had my ear to the ground and my whiskers in the air on this one. I have been paying close attention and the only thing I’ve concluded is that everyone seems to have a different definition of a cougar. Which makes it very difficult to know if one needs to be offended or flattered should one ever happen to be called or deemed a cougar.
A quick wikipedia check yields this definition: a woman over forty who sexually pursues younger men, typically more than eight years her junior. Pretty clear, no?
About a year and a half ago I emailed my brother, El Maestro de Bife, who has an exhaustive and deep knowledge of all things slightly inappropriate. I knew he was my go-to guy and asked him to distinguish between a MILF and a Cougar. MILF, of course you know, is the crass acronym for “Mother I’d Like to Fuck” – which is just a puerile male way of saying Hot Mama. While I don’t love MILF, I’ll grant you MILF. There are many many hot mamas out there and it is most definitely a distinguishable, identifiable subset of the population and therefor worthy of a name and this is the one that has seemed to have stuck. So fine, I get it.
But what about these cougars I was hearing about? El Maestro responded that while a MILF still has her cubs around her, a Cougar hunts for her fresh meat alone. Interesting! Hunts. Alone. Fresh meat. OK, so as long as I have my chitlins in my wake and as long as I’m not on the prowl, then I can’t be a cougar. In fact, barring a piano falling on top of Doctor Dash, I will most likely never be a cougar. This is part of the popular lexicon that I can daintily sidestep, demurely holding my skirt to my side so as not to be sullied.
Then Barbie turned 50 and she looks fantastic for her age. Her breasts are still half way between her shoulder and her elbow as they should be, if not a titch higher, her feet still tiny, her hair radiant, her skin as creamy as a Coppertone Vanilla milkshake. But someone comes up with Cougar Barbie, imagining Barbie’s natural trajectory (never one for subtlety, it actually would be hard to imagine Barbie growing old gracefully à la Isabella Rosselini or Lauren Bacall). If you haven’t seen it, watch it. Hilarious, no? Heh, heh, ho, ho, ho! Hilarious! The paunch, the leopard print, the Journey – oh Cougar Barbie, you are too much! Still, this does nothing to disavow me of my notion that cougars are not something I need worry my pretty little head about.
And then. And then. Because you knew there had to be a then, in June we went out to the Jersey shore to hang out with our friends Chief Big Voice and Saucy-licious Duddy. Saucy and I were grooving to a really great live band at the Princeton, minding our own business, when I was approached by a young fellow whose opener was an enthusiastic, surfer intoned “Heeeyyyyyyy, a couple a cooouuuugaaaarrrrs!” My head swiveled around, my eyes turned bright yellow, I punched him in the trachea and snarled: “Are you fucking kidding me?” Actually, I only did that last part, but it was accompanied by my most withering Catholic high school girl staredown. I was pissed. COUGAR? Me? Us? We were just having a good time, digging the music, drinking many drinks, laughing our asses off. OK, so maybe we looked super hot, but it’s not like we could help it and we certainly weren’t on the prowl or giving the impression of being on the prowl – we were simply a couple of moms, out on the town, wrapped up in our own hilarious shenanigans. Nothing more. Nothing less. Simple as pie. Rowdy but uninterested. Needing to look no further than the band, our glasses and the people we came with for all the fun we needed. And then. And then, on our way out of the bar someone called Saucy’s sister, Little J, a cougar and she’s even younger than us!
Screeech. Hold on one sharp shootin’ high fallutin’ minute here folks. Something was afoot. My feathers were ruffled, but not ruffled enough to have missed the look of complete and utter shock on the young lad’s face when I shut him down like a noxious Jack in the Box. It was but a second, because I immediately gave him the scapula of ice, but there’s no denying it – he was surprised, perhaps even dismayed, at my reaction. Could it be? Could he possibly have meant it as . . . a compliment?
Nooo! we railed, Saucy-licious, Little J and I – No way! We’re not out trying to snag young dudes! We’re not even old enough to be cougars, anyway! Unacceptable! Unfathomable! Unprofessional! Unpalatable! Unfreakingbelievable! Now we were all pissed! And yet. And yet. Because like a then, there’s usually a yet, I think these guys meant no ill. Quite the opposite, I think they were trying, in that broad blunt simian way of youth in bars, to be nice. Well, maybe not nice, exactly. (I may not be a cougar, but I wasn’t born yesterday.) Simply put, these guys seemed to be operating with a different definition of cougar than we were. Maybe.
You need to write about this on your blog! insisted Saucy-licious, Clear this shit up! But all I could do was shudder. No, I couldn’t possibly. To even contemplate the word, to type the word, would feel like an admission, a toe dipped into fountain of age. Peevish and Cougar simply could not be seen together. It was not right. Not yet. Not for a long time. Not for a very very long time. Shudder. Shudder.
And then. And then, because there are always more thens, my friend the Magnificent Bastard sends out a tweet a couple weeks ago asking for top 5 hollywood cougars because he needs them for “work.” His were Julianne Moore, Sharon Stone, Catherine Zeta Jones, Cate Blanchett and Sophia Loren whom he deems “extreme coug.” Then another twitter friend, KC, replies almost immediately, so it obviously didn’t take a lot of thought: Maria Bello, Sharon Stone, Marissa Tomei, Liz Hurley, Vivica Fox and more! OK, fellas, let’s just hold on one more sweet salty snitch snatch second, because these chicks are some seriously hot stuff and not at all the compadres of Cougar Barbie; in fact, I think I may need the definition re-explained to me because if that NJ guy meant anything even approaching this, then perhaps a punch in the trachea was a tad harsh. (Before you start to feel too sorry for him, just know that he was undeterred by my smack down and followed up with an equally compelling: are you Brazilian? for which he received another punch in the trachea.) So I tweet/asked and they both answered that it pretty much just boils down to hot over 40. Cubs and hunting have nothing to do with it.
Hmmm. Well then. Much ado about nothing. Maybe. Wait, you know what? No. Even assuming you remove the desperado aspect from the term, I’m not sold. Far from it, I’m still troubled and I’ll tell you why. I think forty is a bit young for Cougarville. Forty is the new thirty. Forty year olds have babies and toddlers. Forty year olds are still figuring out what they want to do with their lives. Forty year olds like to play. Forty sounds old because we all remember our parents turning forty, but it feels young. Hell, we all feel downright adolescent half the time. (For the record, I’m not there yet, but fast approaching.) In this day and age, forty just doesn’t feel old enough to be a delineating factor, a parenthetical tacked onto the sentence: she looks good.
Women my age deserve to be unencumbered by parentheticals for a few more years. It’s only fair. Most of us just got done wiping butts, for crying out loud! So let’s all be peaches and pals and agree to leave the fine foxy forty somethings out of this discussion and move the Cougar line to um, say, fifty. And we’ll talk again in another ten years.