According to the Oxford English Dictionary (which is the ONLY dictionary in my world.  Don’t get me started on Websters or any of those other ridiculous American versions – that is a whole other post) this is a cougar:

A large American wildcat with a plain tawny to greyish coat, found from Canada to Patagonia.

But so it this:

informal – an older woman seeking a sexual relationship with a younger man.

I have been thinking quite a bit about the latter definition and I have a theory that the behavior displayed by the female human cougar happens more by accident than anything else.  Let me explain.

While I am certain that there are a number of older single women who may consciously dress in what may be age inappropriate garb and head out to the bars to fetch themselves a younger fellow (and in Hollywood I have certainly borne witness to this phenomenon), I suspect that oft times women just commit the gentle and unwitting crime of chronological anachronism.  I shall explain further.

In my head, I am about 24.  I have been about 24 since I was 14 and for about a year in my mid twenties I was actually 24.  The fact that I passed the milestone some time ago has had little effect on my self perception.  A couple of weeks ago I was having lunch with my friend Camielle in a little restaurant near our office.  The waiter was an amusing fellow of about 25 who told us that he was having one of those days when he was just going to “let everything slide” and not get too worked up if things went poorly. Funny info to get from someone who is about to bring you food.  This waiter was wry and witty and I liked him in the sense that he seemed like someone who would be my friend.   I mentioned to Camielle that although I KNEW intellectually that this gent was quite a bit younger than me I emotionally interpreted him as a peer.  My companion went a bit pale I think for fear that I may embarrass her and make some kind of ham fisted pass at the poor lad.  “Oh no!  No, not at all.  Not even close.  No to the Nth power.  No to the nano second.” Camielle said.  “Certainly not”  She went on, lest I miss her point.  “Emphatically not. Googolplex plus not. No way.  Never.  Nein!”  I let my mind wander, musing over my salad whilst Camielle proved herself a veritable thesaurus of negative terminology.

I think this sort of thing happens all the time.  I know a 25 year old is not an appropriate age for someone like me in a partnership situation and to be perfectly honest I have no interest in having an affair with a significantly younger man.  (I have trouble drumming up enthusiasm for a relationship with anyone my own age for that matter.)   However, I think I am younger than I am.  I dress like I am younger than I am, although not in the Hollywood version of the stiletto clad, be-miniskirted version of the older woman on the prowl.  More like hoodies and combat boots.  15 year old boy-wear.  I listen to loud music, often.  I often find myself at performances and exercise classes where I am the senior specimen by at least a decade.  Many of my friends are the same.  In fact, I had almost exactly the same experience that I had suffered poor Camielle through when I was out for dinner with Laura.  We were at the bar at Woodlot and the very knowledgeable and friendly barkeep revealed himself to be 28.  Laura agreed that she would have thought we were all about the same age.  In her HEAD where, like in my own cranium,  we are all vibrant youths frolicking in university sweats and eating ramen noodles,  not the hoary creatures that time has morphed us in to.

I am not sure what to make of this theory.  I certainly don’t anticipate making a fool of myself by actually making a pass at one of these poor innocents mostly because of my aforementioned complete lack of desire for an affair with a younger man and also the fact that flirting, like the application of mascara, seems to be a skill that has thus far eluded me.  I believe I will just continue in my role of amateur naturalist and view all cougars from a safe distance in their natural habitats.

2 Responses to “Cougars”

  1. rea says:

    You go, girl. Interesting reaction from friends, though, eh? I, too, suffer from the ‘inner thirteen year old’ syndrome. In my head, I’m up in a maple, tree, observing life from a safe distance, and journaling my head off. The mirror on the other hand tells another tale altogether.

  2. Neville says:

    I’ve often head that most men think that they are still seventeen. Given the number of dreams I have involving high-school math or geography exams for which I’ve neglected to study, and the shock with which I greet my own mirrored reflection, I may have to count myself in that category. Perhaps 24 is not such a bad age-place for you to be after all.

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