Wednesday, December 2, 2009
My animal nature
When my son told me I didn't look like a cougar, I didn't know whether to be sad or relieved. I asked him to explain what a cougar was, because I don't like the way he spews pop culture like it's reality on earth. The kid informed me that a cougar was a predatory, highly sexed older woman who goes after younger men, including the underaged kind. Then, he gave me a physical and wardrobe description of the typical cougar that sounded like the stylist notes from Desperate Housewives. And I got to hear about his seventeen year old friend who got propositioned by a Cougar! That's right, they're real! They're out there! They're preying on our innocent boys! They even have their own convention which appears to be mating grounds for older women and younger men.
It seems middle aged women are in. (Perhaps someone should tell prospective employers.) The entertainment world is largely responsible. Aging babes like Demi Moore and Madonna (whose ropy limbs increasingly resemble beef jerky) are refusing to hang up their G-strings. Courtney Cox is starring in Cougar Town, which writer producer Bill Lawrence readily admits has a "zeitgeisty topic". They're making another Sex in The City movie. I confess I've never watched any of the Real Housewives series on Bravo, but the shows are multiplying like Tiger Woods' mistresses. How sad that this trend is hitting at the same time as high def television, which shows every wrinkle and dimple.
I suspect this cougar business is just another popular culture trope. Certainly, there's a demographic basis for it: The Xers are now in their forties, and the boomers have a distorted image of their own youthfulness. (This is something you learn in advertising - it's the reason we show forty year olds in campaigns targeting folks in their fifties.) These days, women with a certain degree of affluence take good care of themselves. Thanks to dermatologists, personal trainers, hair colorists and plastic surgeons, they have access to an arsenal of rejuvenation techniques. While there are legions of ladies who wish the old ball-and-chain would just flush the damn viagra and get back to snoring, there are, and always have been, women of a certain age with a strong sex drive. Does that make them a cultural phenomenon? Is the fact that a gal is well-kept and not dead from the waist down enough to classify her as a cougar? Or does she also have to lust after younger guys?
I don't do Botox, although I've often thought the resulting poker face would help me in business. I can't afford the requisite face lift, boob job or tummy tuck of the TV cougars, and I'd hate to to spend that much time on my hair and make up. I don't like animal prints or own a push up bra. I've never maxed out my credit card on impractical Italian shoes. And, putting aside the legalities of cradle robbing and the fact that I'm happily married, I really, really am not into teen age boys. They're zitty and dense. They reek of Axe. They don't wash their feet unless their mothers (who are probably not cougars) make them. I'd wager they don't know what they're doing in bed and if they do, they'll give you chlamydia. Come to think of it, judging by my daughter's dispatches from the twenty-something dating scene, I don't think I like young adult men too much either. Give me George Clooney. Pierce Brosnan. Sting. Gabriel Byrne. Bono. Viggo Mortensen. Sebastian Junger. Guys who look like they actually have hair on their chests. You can keep that anemic, fine-featured lad from Twilight.
My son's right. I'm no cougar: I've always been more of a bitch than a feline. But I bet I could teach an old dog a trick or two.