Note: The "Trooper" in question is not actually in the military. It's a metaphor, people.

October 21, 2009

The Declawed Cougar

I know, I know. The whole "cougar" phenomenon has hit its peak and is on the rapid downhill pop culture slide. (Seriously, I just Googled 'cougar woman' and was blown away by the number of websites that specialize in helping younger guys hook up with adventurous "older" women or helping these "older" women be a better Cougar. Gross.) But since I have never been on the cusp of what's "hip" (I think I declared that Pearl Jam was actually "a pretty good band" around 1996), allow me to address the matter here. And it probably isn't going to be in the way you would expect. OK, here goes.

I've been a Cougar since my early 20s.

How is that possible, you ask? Well, I think it has something to do with the fact that, in my early 20s -- when everyone else was acting their age--I just felt older. I'm sure that suffering from a bad back since the age of 8 didn't help matters (you don't feel very young and chipper when your friend invites you out to play and you have to decline because you "threw your back out").

I lived in New York City in my late teens/early 20s and it seemed like everyone my age was partying, throwing themselves into mosh pits, and grooving to techno music at after-hours raves til all hours (think early/mid 90s). While I was more of a pack a backpack for the day, pick an avenue, and walk it from my end of town (up, up, uptown) to the bottom tip of Manhattan (I still highly recommend this as a way to experience the distinct neighborhoods of the city, and not spend a lot of money). Then hop a subway back home, grab some Chinese to go and cuddle up in front of the TV for an early night.

When I did decide to try and play my age, I was usually ready to call it a night before they had even finished warming up. Half the time we didn't leave the apartment until midnight and I was already wishing I was on the couch with some garlic chicken.

But here's the thing - I didn't feel bad about this. Or left out. Sure, it sucked to miss out on some great concerts because standing up for 3 hours killed my back (since much improved, by the way). But besides that, I just knew I wasn't really missing out on much.

But there was one thing I was age appropriate about. Boys. I definitely had a physical "type" - about 19, kinda jocky-looking, and dangerous cute in a way I can only describe as "date rapist hot" (if you don't know what I mean by this offensive-sounding description, I don't know that I can explain it. Perhaps in another entry - but only upon request).

This "type" of mine was purely a physical attraction. Something I could not help. Because, trust me, I didn't want to be attracted to guys like that. They are almost always complete tools. And my more mature brain damn well knew it. But still, my hormones would flare up when such a man-boy would cross my path and, occasionally, I would even act upon it. (Ah....the days when you could get a guy just because you decided to say yes for once.)

As I got further into my 20s, my type didn't change. He barely aged actually. However, the guys I actually sought relationships with were nerdy, nice, gay-straight (a term I first talked about here) intellectuals. See, if something's going to last more than one night, my brain has to be stimulated at least as much as my body. But still, when one of those man-boys walked by, my eye was compelled to follow.

And then Columbine happened. Ridiculous sounding, I know. But still true. Yes, the shooters were ostracized, pimply teens with some serious emotional issues. But after that horrific incident, suddenly anything even slightly associated with younger guys became repulsive to me. They were sad. Repressed. Unevolved.

And that's exactly where I've stayed through the rest of my 20s and into my mid 30s.

So can someone please tell me what the hell has happened in the last two days that has made me suddenly notice the man-boys again?????? Yesterday, and again this evening, I was alarmed to find myself walking along and suddenly craning my neck to maintain the particular specimen within my line of site. There he was - 19ish, jocky, probably dumb as a stump. The complete and polar opposite of my goateed, glasses-wearing, adorably intellectual Wine Guy.

But there is one big difference between now and then. At the ripe age of 36, I am officially in "Cougar" territory (apparently 35+ is the qualifying age).

Oh, and just to make sure we are clear here --- I would NEVER do anything about this resurgence. Ever.

Which I guess makes the next part easy. Because now that I'm 36 and more "mature" in my appearance, I can assure you that they aren't looking back anymore. Or asking. At least not with any interest beyond "What's that lady looking at?" Which makes me nothing more than a leering, salivating, slightly pathetic Cougar.

Oh well. I guess I can take comfort in this the next time Wine Guy salivates over Padma Lakshmi during "Top Chef" - or whatever "type" he is drawn to that he can't have either.


October 13, 2009

To Friends and Foes

Hi readers (and apparently there still are some of you left, which is nice to know).
First of all, I'd like to thank those of you who've sent me kind emails and left thoughtful comments on my last post. It warms my heart to think about how total strangers can connect so legitimately through a venue like this. So thanks.

But I do feel the need to clarify a few things so you know where I am these days - and where I'm not.

The Harsh Comments
As far as I'm concerned, those come with the territory of putting my life out there on public (if anonymous) display. When they come, I read them over and then put them out of my mind. Sometimes this is easier than others (during my surgery recovery, this was quite difficult). I find it is especially easy to forget about a cruel comment (whether they meant it that way or not) if I don't respond directly to it. So that's why I rarely get into back-and-forth dialogues in the comments section. But everyone is entitled to their opinion (or venting or whatever) and that's why the comments section is open to anyone.

But that doesn't mean I don't take any critical comments to heart. My ears particularly perk up with the ones delivered in a compassionate way like "I know you may not want to hear this but what about considering......." Trust me, I can tell right off the bat who is just being vindictive and who is trying to offer helpful advice. I am always up for helpful critique and there have been plenty of times when I've thought long and hard about something someone said in my comments section - and sometimes even acted on it.

The Whole Truth
Your comments also reminded me that you don't know the whole story about my relationship with Wine Guy. In fact, there's a lot you don't know. Like the fact that we do talk about marriage -- a lot actually. And I pretty much know where we stand in that department (at least for now) and choose to stay just where I am for a reason - a good one actually. I love him. (Thanks Dark Cloud Nine for helping me remember that simple fact!)

This blog is not one long cohesive narrative (like it was in our first few months of dating). Once your relationship becomes immersed into the day to day of life, there really is no narrative anymore is there? Just life. So now I select moments, snapshots in time that I can focus on and explore in my writing. That's when I start digging around in my brain, trying to bring out the feelings that popped up in that moment - whether they were valid or not. Or whether I still feel them or not. Yes, the marriage thing looms large in my mind and becomes particularly dominant with certain triggers like a friend getting married (just happened) or having a baby (several just happened), or an ex getting engaged (my last two just did). So obviously this particular subject has been nagging at me a lot lately.

I was explaining this all to Wine Guy last night (I do tell him what I'm writing about and the reactions I get from you guys) and he helped me brainstorm about how to explain what it is I am putting out there for the world to read. We were both film studies majors in college and we couldn't help but recall all those 1960s film theorists who talked about how the frame of a camera removes the viewer from the context of a situation and re-envisions another reality within its own frame. More times than not, the reality of the moment has little to do with what the camera ultimately captured-- and what the editor decided to do with it.

That's kind of what's going on here. I choose the moments that spoke to me, and capture them within the lens of my mind (often a very effective distortion device) Then I edit, adapt, revise - until there's a story that I've crafted to share with you. It's all true, but it's not Truth. If that makes any sense.

So I guess that's why those harsh comments don't bother me that much (at least no longer than a few minutes). Because the people that come in and start making judgments about what they think is my life, aren't really seeing the whole picture. Only I know the entire Truth, and even that is skewed! So let them vent. Let them judge. If it makes them feel better fine. If you or I get something out of it too, even better.

Quitting the Blog
I consider it from time to time, mostly because I've been busy with some freelance writing and, combined with the writing I do all day at work, the blog starts to feel more like a chore than a hobby. But when I do find some time to sit down and write (like right now on my lunch break), I feel a sense of relief that no other writing gives me. So for now I think I'll keep it going, just knowing that I won't be updating as frequently as I'd like.

Thanks again to my friends out there. And to those of you who aren't my biggest fans, the comment box will always be there, whether you are or not.