“You and I here all alone/Sunday morning here at home
The sky is blue as the coffee’s strong/It’s true
But then I open my eyes/To this dream realized
In front of me
Oh and I haven’t got a clue/What in the world is happening to me
I think I’m happy.”
Special note: this blog is being posted on a day where I have sworn to forego caffeine, Twitter hash tags, the f-bomb and all online conversations about food in order to benefit Autism Speaks.
That’s my brother’s name. I like it. Just wanted to dash you a little letter about the article you published in the Denver Post on May 28. Yeah – the one about “cougars.” I believe it had the clever title “Cougars on the prowl in Colorado nightclubs.” Did you think of that yourself or did your older girlfriend help you with the overused play on words? Nevermind – it’s really not important. The last letter I wrote was to Chris Brown after he slapped Rihanna around. Congrats – you’ve made it to the big leagues on Redheaded Fury.
Just wanted to give you my elderly wisdom on a few things before I popped a Geritol and settled in on my couch wrapped cozily in my Snuggie for re-runs of Golden Girls. Won’t take but a sec – I can’t stay awake that long. After all, I’m 36. A cougar, by your definition. An “older woman.”
Now, being a twice-divorced and presently single woman, I think you’ve pegged my “breed” pretty well: running around town, looking for strange and preying on young, unsuspecting boys. Granted, it’s tough for me to find a place to park my electric scooter when I come rollin’ up to the clubs, but the doormen here in Denver always jump to help an old gal and then I’m parked in pretty short order. Now that I’m parked, I can put my teeth back in and have both hands free to flip you the bird.
Your article has done nothing to promote any sort of “investigative journalism” or alert the good citizens of Denver to a wrong in need of righting. What you have done, however, is heartily promote the stereotype of the “woman on the prowl” and put out some pretty jaded human nastiness in the process. Personally, I think your article belongs in the obituary section, as it’s merely a eulogy for the death of human discovery and the collective citizenry’s ability to evaluate another human being based on (deep breath) qualities other than age.
I found the woman in your article who described men her age (44) with a blanket label of “fat and gross” to be simply charming. An iconic example of what the average 44-year-old woman thinks and feels. Wherever did you find her? Ah yes – it was the Entitled aisle at the Safeway in Cherry Creek, I’m sure. Honestly, I don’t know where she’s looking as I see men of that age DAILY who are stunning specimens of what a good dose of testosterone can achieve. Then again, I’m old and my eyesight might be going.
What occurs to me is that your article has successfully achieved the creation of a complete caricature. A caricature of everyone in your article and those to whom you apply the tasteful age-restrictive labels of “cougar” and “manther.” (Personally, I’d always heard the term “Silver Fox” used, but no matter.) From the description of your subjects’ clothing to the venue and the pretty yet vapid boys, it’s all nothing but a superficial take. One thing I’ve learned in my old age is that if people are in search of the superficial, it’s what they’ll find. And honestly, they don’t quite care what designer label it’s wrapped in because it’s bound to end up on someone’s bedroom floor by the end of the evening. But maybe I can shed some light on “cougars” beyond the dim one at the bar at which you conducted your investigation on the mating rituals of the urban feline.
Riding my bike this morning along the Cherry Creek bike path, I found myself purposefully steering into every possible rain puddle I could access. Water splashing up on my legs, my face … I giggled and even openly laughed once. When I took a good look at myself upon arriving back at my car, the sight was laughable. And certainly not “pretty.” I was completely un”hit on”able. But you know what?
I had fun. Fun at 6AM this morning playing in rain puddles. And then I summarily went back to my house, hopped in the shower, got my girl on and headed into the office. Today, it’s a fabulous denim pencil skirt accompanied by a Calvin Klein wrap top and a pair of kick-you-in-the-nuts Charles David strappy sandals.
I’m your cougar.
The people in your article aren’t looking for love. They’re looking to hook-up. And what you fail to mention in the stunning examples throughout your article is that it takes two to tango and it ain’t about a “cougar on the prowl.” If an older man/woman is looking for fun and fun alone, they’re generally going to turn to a younger mate. Why? It’s the “fun factor.” And the fact that they’re not looking for anything serious. Have I done it? Oh, most certainly. And it was fun.
But at 36, I’m looking for more than the “fun factor.” Yes, fun is a huge consideration in the men with whom I choose to spend my time, but it goes beyond that – it’s humility as well. The humble process of opening yourself up to learning about someone (and allowing them to learn about you in return) – their history, their loves before you, their life. Their quirks.
The endearing quirks and idiosyncrasies that take a person from being someone who tells a good joke at a bar to being the person you want to laugh with on a Sunday morning in bed.
Your article brazenly bypasses any and all mention of the things that make us each human, painting a pathetic, two-dimensional view of dating after age 35 for those of us who refuse to settle. I think your piece is the weak antithesis to that Lori Gottlieb rib-tickler in The Atlantic last year (Marry Him! The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough) that chides women for not settling for any one of a slew of Mr. Good Enoughs and holding out for Mr.Right.
But I won’t settle. The lyrics above – one of my favorite songs ever – are what I’m looking for. The daily surprise of discovering something new about the man I’m learning to “fit” with, not really knowing where it’s all going to go but embracing the childlike laughter that escapes my lips each time we splash through one of my aforementioned rain puddles. And laughing even more each time I see him laugh back.
That’s why I’m single. Not because of what “society’s handed me” (as your character Ms. Spuelher believes). I’m lucky enough to have had two men in my life whom I’ve loved enough to take a swing at “forever.” While they didn’t ultimately end up with the fairy tale ending, I’m delighted. The gift of being 36 and single is that I learn more each day what I love, what I want…what I don’t…where to compromise. Why, looking back down my life’s hallway, even two years have changed my perspective on a lot of things. Time is a gift and not the curse or something to battle as your characters purport. I think the man to find me today is a lucky one, and he’ll be grateful for the time I’ve taken to be with myself, to explore my demons, revisit them and emerge a better person.
I’m the cougar you speak of, along with every woman out there who enjoys time with her friends – regardless of their age, gender, looks or financial status. We go to bars on occasion, we carouse and engage in mischief…and we’re delightfully embracing the value of friendship and self-discovery while we look for our own “Happy.” So take your kitty-cat labels and characters shaped with your superficially glazed pen and step aside. This cougar is looking forward to the day she has a man in her life whose lap she can curl-up on, soaking in a sunbeam as it glides through a window on a lazy Sunday morning. As he strokes my hair, it’s likely I’ll even purr. And I look forward to doing the same for him.
There is one thing you DID get right in your article, however:
…Cougarism is more complicated than the reductive picture forged in TV shows, comedy monologues and the snide commentary of office e-mails.
It’s about being 36, loving my life, and having enough balls to tell you your article was the most ridiculous piece of pulp I’ve read since Gottlieb’s abomination on the inherent value of “settling.” We cougars – we’re snappy little cats, ain’t we?
Now excuse me – I have to pay my bar tab and get my scooter out of valet.
Erika D. Napoletano