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Cougar myths … debunked!

This column appeared in print in Creative Loafing newspaper 10/7/09.

The topic of cougarsome cuties chasing cuddly cradle-dwellers is about as tasty an intellectual morsel as dining at the Olive Garden is a gastronomic one. Whether or not women d’un certain âge have sex with younger men is a topic as culturally passé as older men using little blue pills to make it through the night. It’s done; it happens. Why all this talk today about something so yesterday?

MC tries (tries being the operative word) to strike a cou-girrrrrl-icious pose.

MC tries (tries being the operative word) to strike a cou-girrrrrl-icious pose.

Look, I’m not suggesting we all spout Descartes and save-the-whales mantras every time we open our mouths, but we have more to debate than this only-in-America obsession of whether or not an older woman can — or should — hit it with a younger man.

But readers have spoken. I’ve received blog postings, emails and face-to-face queries all asking the same thing, “Yo, MC — when are you going to weigh in on Sarasota’s newfound fame as Cougar Town?” So, since it appears the gods are trying to punish me for my snobby comments about olives and gardens, here’s what I think — for what that’s worth — about the brouhaha.

Sarasota as Cougar Town? Only in its dreams.

While it’s obvious that a red-heeled Louboutin could barely be thrown in this town without hitting an attractive, 37-plus, highly groomed woman seated at a barstool of some downtown hotspot, the fact remains that a lot of those women, like a lot of women all over the world, are not even remotely lusting after rock-hard body parts and malleable brains — they’re lusting after bank accounts. And while those women might look twice — they’d never think twice about wasting their big-bucks high-gloss finish on a kid who can’t even afford the going rate on a night out at Tovero.

The only package that makes hard-nosed, hyper-manicured man-chasers of any age really purr is the very fat wallet of a usually much older man.

I’ve seen no evidence that women anywhere are lying in wait to pounce and feast on the bodies of younger men. The only evidence that a cougar phenomenon exists at all is found in crap shows like the one Courteney Cox is so miserably floundering in and the slobbering media attention. Front page of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune? Are you kidding me?

It may be different in other parts of the country where women might have more social clout, and perhaps a broader pool of younger men to choose from, but here in Sarasota, it’s not women who are cougars — it’s the men. I’ve hardly met a man in this town over 38 willing to date a woman his own age, much less older.

That said, one of the best relationships of my life was with a man 10 years younger. I dated, loved and made love with him, not because of his youth or Adonis-like body, but because he had the balls to live life full-on, no holds barred. My younger lover led a nearly fearless life unbridled by societal parameters, and it was intoxicating — intellectually, emotionally and yes, sexually. It’s true that anyone, at any age, can live life that way. But it’s also true that I’ve never met a man my own age or older who matched my former boyfriend’s willingness to take risks and appear foolish in the pursuit of life and love and me.

In the animal kingdom, female cougars are known to be independent, fierce, intelligent and slightly reclusive; in Hollywood, their human counterparts are portrayed as sex-addled, whiny fools — rendered unthreateningly de-clawed, defanged and desexualized by pratfalls, social and professional incompetence and a distaste for marital oral sex.

Studies suggest that women are aging far more successfully than men, psychologically, emotionally and creatively speaking, so it’s no big coincidence that this pathetic image of aging women is being promulgated in our culture at the same time that women are beginning to exert more control over their sexual and partnership choices, careers and life experiences.

Whether they can be defined as cougars or not, I can tell you fairly confidently that most women in their late 30s and 40s will choose a paunchy 50-year-old any day over a six-packed 30-year-old, as long as he accepts her, is capable of communicating, is fun, confident and possessed of reasonable intelligence.

In short, women want a decent man — and it’s a big help if he’s capable of contributing to a sex life that runs the gamut from 10-minute wake-up quickies to the occasional mind-blowing, body-exhausting kind of nuit blanche that might make them forget their own name, but never his.

Oh, and it doesn’t hurt if he can fix a broken faucet and make a mean spaghetti alla carbonara. Now that’s cougar-licious.

Age, schmage. A man who lives his life with caring, class, chutzpah and some crazy-good sex is going to be high-grade catnip to any woman, regardless of her age or his. No cougar required.

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Posted on October 2nd, 2009Comments RSS Feed
15 Responses to Cougar myths … debunked!
  1. Well said. So how old is your current boyfriend? :)

    Reply
  2. I have an ongoing crush on Walter at FIF. If you’ve met him, you see I dig older and younger and anywhere in between … it’s just that they don’t always dig me! Oh, well, the life of an anti-cougar, I guess. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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  3. Loved your “cougar myths …” but object to your assertion that attractive women 37 plus are only lusting after men’s bank accounts. That isn’t what you do when you go our for a drink, is it? While I admit that there are women in Sarasota who wouldn’t dream of going out with a man who doesn’t have big bucks, we’re not all like that!

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  4. Ingrid — point taken. but — that’s why I wrote “a lot of” instead of “all” and then showed that really, cougar-ish or not, all women want a man who’s decent. thanks for reading and commenting!!

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  5. Hey, MC, in your cougar photo you look about 25 and extremely gorgeous . . .proof that you’re living life full-on and having fun. And that will keep you young forever. That kind of attitude applies not only to relationships with others, but your relationship to the world around you (engaged, analytical, provocative, playful) and with yourself (loving, accepting, challenging). I’m in love with someone younger than me but I don’t really think about it – in some ways he seems much older and wiser and he has travelled and experienced more than I have, but I bring my own experiences and wisdom to the magical ‘us’ that it takes the both of us to create. Keep on being open-minded, sassy, fun-loving, deep-thinking and very much alive!

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  6. Ah, mon amie de Lux!! How are you! Thanks for reading my column and commenting. ah, you’re sweet but it’s half-covered (by design) my face — cougar-in-hiding, i guess! i appreciate your really kind words — merci milles fois (or is it mille — i never get that right) so nice to hear from you and i appreciate you popping in from Luxembourg.

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  7. OK, now I feel bad for titling my latest “Sex and the Suburbs” column, “Confessions of a Closet Cougar”. My piece wasn’t really about the cougar phenomenon itself; it really just gave me another excuse to write about cute boys. Your analysis was far more insightful!

    Take care, and keep churnin’ up the waters down there!

    T

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  8. Hey, Theresa! or should I say “grrrooowwwl”? I think it’s good to have input from all POVs — but you know me, always too deadly serious. i do need to lighten up sometimes but those boys in Hollywood, making late 30/40s women look like idiots nearly did me in! thanks for reading and writing —

    for anyone else — check out Theresa Rose’s blog http://www.theresarose.net/wordpress/?p=265
    which will also link you to the Confessions of a Cougar story!

    Reply
  9. I did miss the “a lot of”, sorry! In my experience (attending singles functions), I would say some women … not really a lot of them, but that is just my observation. I don’t get around to some of these really fancy shindigs, like the Bachelor Auction, etc. If I did, maybe my observation would change…

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  10. no worries, Ingrid! I love it when people ask questions or comment about what I’ve written — that old “if a tree falls in a forest” thing.

    :)

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  11. Maureen Maguire
    October 3, 2009 at 10:21 am

    Brilliantly said and with such passion and energy! All true, too.

    Reply
  12. Oh, thanks, Maureen — for reading and commenting! :)

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  13. Carol W., wrote: Were you listening to me when I was saying all of this to my husband? You might at least have re-arranged the words to make them yours!! This topic is my current pet peeve, and I couldn’t have said it better myself. Except that I did say to my husband, and I quote “Why are the predatory older MEN in this town (and beyond) not labeled with an equally offensive name, such as, well, whichever dinosaur was a meat eater back in the day, or maybe we could just call them “Lizards”.

    (Carol — this was accidentally posted under the photo that was included with this column; I kind of assumed you meant to post it here, so I cut and pasted it here — hope that’s okay!)

    Reply
  14. Carol W — thanks for visiting mccoolidge.com and for reading the column and even more for commenting. I LOVE your idea of calling men lizards — or maybe “dinos” after dinosaurs. :)

    Come back anytime!

    Reply
  15. John W. Perkins
    October 8, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    “I LOVE your idea of calling men lizards — or maybe “dinos” after dinosaurs.”

    Sorry, we don’t get catchy nicknames.. We’re simply referred to as “perverts”

    Reply

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