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.