"I had a male friend over recently," said Cindy. "He's 56. He was sitting in my living room on a Sunday afternoon, reading the paper, and watching golf. Golf! He looked at me and said, 'It doesn't get any better than this.'" A disgusted look crossed her face.
Karen, a friendly redhead, said she was just curious. "I've never dated a younger man before. Well, when I was a senior in college, I dated a sophomore," she said with a sheepish smile.
Maxi, an ordained minister and prowling cougar, laid it out for me:
"A cougar is not a slut," she said. "A real cougar is an independent woman who isn't looking for a man to marry and settle down. She introduces her cub to new possibilities and experiences. It's almost a spiritual relationship." Spiritual Sex: 10 Erotic Commandments
Attractive, mature women like Maxi, Karen, Cindy, and Cynthia clearly wanted and deserved more out of life than sitting around on the sofa watching golf. If they choose to find more suitable companionship with willing younger men, why not?
"Geeks make the best cubs," Maxi added enthusiastically. "They take direction well, and they don't realize that you're supposed take a break between orgasms. Makes for a lot of fun," she said, smiling. Why Geeks Are The New Chic
As the evening wore on, the atmosphere grew increasingly festive. By the time I hit the road, there were couples filling the dance floor—albeit surrounded by a constant cloud of photographers. Then again, if a decade of reality TV has proven anything, it's that many Americans have no problem ignoring the cameras and focusing on getting laid.
The media angle on cougardom seems to be firmly of the salacious, mirthful nature. But perhaps the sign of a true cougar is that she doesn't much care what reporters, married or otherwise, think of her lifestyle.
As for me, I returned home to my wife and kids feeling relieved—and a little wistful for what might have been were I ten years younger. Coco Chanel once said, "A woman has the age she deserves." With the rise of the cougar, she may have spoken truer than she knew.
Photos: Daniel C. Britt