Something odd happened when I hit thirty. The men in my life got younger. Every year, I get one year older while the men who approach me seem to get one year younger. By the time I hit fifty, I'll have to date a fetus.
Many of these guys in their twenties want to play "there's no way you're older than me," then get all keyed up once they discover I’ve passed the thirty mark. The latest was an adorable artist who bought me drinks a few months ago to talk about the existential crisis he's suffering. None of the poor guy's dreams have come to fruition and here he is, staring down the barrel of twenty-four. I was considering calling him to distract myself from my recent heartbreak until my friend Dave gave me the chilling news: call the kid and you're a cougar.
I hate Dave.
This Cougar stuff is the worst thing to happen to women since the crimping iron. It’s an offensive, freakish aberration that doesn't look good on anybody. I say we chuck it along with MILFs.
Years back, I had a brief "thing" with a 22-year old. Mark was waiting to move into a new apartment, so I rented him a room at mine. We spent a couple weeks drinking wine and staying up until dawn talking about God and sex and Vonnegut. Mark was as interesting, as creative, as wily as a man twice his age, but he was young so everything about him was on the surface and raw. He hadn't been around long enough to censor himself and stop feeling. Hadn't yet polished his ideas, so listening to him was like meeting Hunter Thompson in a dream.
Mark and I never consummated our attraction which is probably why we remain friends today. A long-term relationship was probably not in the cards for us, as Mark's life was ascending while mine was just coming in for a landing. But we liked each other. I was no predator and he was no prey.
The "Mark thing" made me feel like Isabelle Huppert, this great French actress who gets to play seductively remote older women in movies. In one film, she has a mutually obsessive affair with a young wonderstud. The film is about lust, passion and the turmoil both can provoke. It's not about some old biddy pathetically chasing young tail, only to be reminded that she's gross and should no longer be having sex.
A Spanish film I watched had two men fighting over a beauty in her forties, much to the dismay of the twenty-five year old babe who couldn't keep anyone's attention no matter how insistently she strutted around in a bikini. Then there was a scene in a French film with sixtysomething Catherine Deneuve nude in a bathtub, epitomizing the complex beauty and sensuality that can come with age and experience. Seeing it made me want to be Catherine Deneuve when I'm sixty. Hell, I want to be Catherine Deneuve now.
Seems the beautiful, lusty older woman isn't an ogre in other cultures. Like fine wine, she gets better with age. And being a decade or two older than her lover only adds another layer of eroticism to the exchange. All this to say, I’m totally moving to Europe when I retire.
There is no "Cougar Phenomenon," don’t let 'em tell you otherwise. Occasionally seeking out no-strings situations, especially after being entangled for too long, is not something only men do. Wanting to couple up with hard-bodied hotties at their physical prime is human. And though age may make our options dwindle, it never stops us from wanting connection and passion in our lives.
Instead of distracting myself with a cute twenty-four year old, I'm going to nurse my heavy heart and wait for something real. But should I find myself alone in my fifties and a similar opportunity comes along, I won’t feel guilty about considering it. Whether he’s 24, 34 or 54, any man's a catch as long as he's solid and his soul is alive. As a wise woman once said, "it's not the men in my life, it's the life in my men."