As it turned out, I wasn't the only one who had been dispatched to cover the gathering. Everywhere I turned, there were reporters, photographers, and cameramen chatting up cougars and cubs. I spoke with a pair of young reporters from the San Francisco Chronicle, who were parked at a table at the edge of the action. One lamented having collected some great quotes that unfortunately would be unprintable.
"This one guy told me, 'There are women here who are so hot that I'd let them take a dump on me.' I asked him for something more G-rated, and he said, 'Okay, I'd let them piss on me too,' then walked away," the reporter said.
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I turned to Twitter to see if the online comments would be more dignified:
Video journalist Brian King (@bkbkbk) wrote: "I think Google's entire workforce is here. #cougarconvention"
One of the hotel's employees (@antcruz) provided an insider view via his Twitter account: "cougar convention should have been called the douchebag convention. There was a sea of Ed Hardy t shirts out there." 21 Twitter Pick-Up Lines (er, Tweets)
Which brings us to an obvious question: What kind of man goes to a cougar convention? Looking around the room, the men's age, appearance, and motivation seemed to vary wildly.
Three Stanford boys had shown up without booking, looking shockingly young in their suits and ties."I'm a math major, so I don't have anything to do on a Friday night," one said. "And besides, who can resist a cougar party?"
I saw them later on the dance floor, grooving with a trio of women. Score one for college ingenuity. I caught up with "Ian" via email the next day, who reported the money quotes from his cougar dancing partner: "Does this stimulate you?" and, "It's okay, let Mama Cougar do all the talking."
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Aging frat boys were also well represented. I spotted a group of obvious Silicon Valley players, probably from the sales and marketing side of the tech industry.