Tip o’ the pen to Carole D. for the title.
I’ve read about them: women of advancing age who seek to date much younger men. Younger here doesn’t mean a 10- to 15-year difference, which might raise an eyebrow but is no big deal. “Cougars” are women in their 40s and on who date men (and I use the word loosely) in their 20s.
I don’t judge them—much—as I understand their reasons for passing on men their age. Anyhow, while I may cringe when I see an older man with someone 25 years younger, it’s accepted, although when I really think about it, I feel more nauseated by the idea of a 20-something girl with a 40-something man than the other way around.
Perhaps because I have sons, including one who is approaching the age at which he might be cougar bait, younger men are not on my radar as potential prey; I don’t even find Hollywood heartthrobs of interest. The youngest I go for is Leonardo DiCaprio who, at 35, would look perfectly fine on my arm.
I won’t state categorically that I could never find myself attracted to someone who’s too young for me. In fact, I was attracted to someone in that legal but instinctively wrong age range. That was based not on raw, sexual energy but on healthy things that bring a man and woman together: common interests and a good vibe. Had we been within striking distance of each other’s age, we surely would have dated, but with two-plus decades between us, I wasn’t even interested in flirting.
Why? Part of it is pure instinct: it just feels wrong. Part of it is practicality: what is the point of getting involved with someone who’s just starting out, when I’m at this stage? We couldn’t possibly be in each other’s lives as anything but sex partners and…Oh!
Well, even if I were interested in casual sex, it would not be with 20-somethings. To my mind, boys that age should not see what life does to a body, should instead be shielded from the sags, the wrinkles, the age-related blemishes. They should be eased into these realities over time, not hit with them at once. Anyhow, I could never feel comfortable with my body in that situation, would never allow myself to be the freak show that satisfies some randy youth’s curiosity and gives him a story to tell.
I can see how these things happen.
Kelley and I are at the second bar, having followed our new pals Seb and Tarren from the first. I am loopy from several Martini-style drinks I’ve downed something less than daintily, and no longer recall exactly who I am, in the abstract. I seem to think I am a grad student, like Seb.
I lose Seb after a few minutes and find Kelley at the bar talking to a guy. I tell her we should go, some part of me realizing that the next oldest person here is still 20 years younger than we are. We don’t belong here, but alcohol is the great equalizer, and I order another drink and then we do.
Kelley leaves for the restroom and I’m sitting on a barstool next to the guy. My vision is compromised by the dark and the alcohol, but it doesn’t escape me that he is cute. From the way he is looking at me, I’m thinking I must be cute, too. The conversation is innocuous but increasingly flirty. How old are you, I ask; he tells me and I laugh and wave a hand. This is going nowhere, is what that hand says. Get that idea out of your young head; I could put you over my knee and spank you, and not for fun.
The last drink hits me and the conversation becomes a blur. A fit and perky drunk girl comes by and puts herself between me and the guy, nuzzles herself into his neck, puts her arms around him. I turn away…I don’t belong here, who is this old lady, anyhow. But he gets rid of her and returns his focus to me. Somehow I’m more interesting than the hot girl. “You are so cute,” I blurt out, no filter. I don’t care. The attention from this doll has turned me into someone else. It’s ludicrous.
Our conversation gets more intense and at the same time loose. We’re just a guy and a girl and we’re talking at a bar. His face comes nearer to mine, and I’m not thinking about how much closer to 50 I’ll be in three days, but about the early gift that is about to be planted on my intemperate lips.