There’s been talk. About Cougars. Specifically, in reference to this blog. Many of you who meet me exclaim, “You’re too young to be a Cougar!” Your faces twist in confusion, but I detect a hint of anger in there too. What is that about exactly? Is the question really, “If you’re not over forty, like all Cougars are supposed to be, why in the world would you brand yourself as one?”
Good question. I’ll follow up with another: Why should the term Cougar be so rigid, defined as a woman over 40, with a derogatory connotation?
In response, I’d like to revisit one of my first posts (see link below), “Cougar versus Cougel.” I’m not a Cougar as pop culture defines it: “desperate over 40 with bad botox trolling bars for young men” kinda thing. I’m a Cougel; a Cougar redefined. It’s not really about age. It’s about “coming of age.” After you’ve figured a few things out, know yourself, and go after what you want. For some of us this happens at 25 and some at 45. It all depends on what you’ve been through up until that point and how it defines who you are. So what if you’re dating someone who is older than you, or younger? What’s the difference? Besides, shouldn’t it be up to you to define yourself, rather than leaving it up to society and the media?
We are all, whether we admit or not, obsessed with age. The older we get the more we become aware of and feel the passage of time and its implications. Minutes are measured in dog years. We realize we need to be more conscious and deliberate with our decisions. But is that such a bad thing?
Courtney Cox was a “Friend.” We all loved her. Then she got older, and she starred in “Cougartown.” Does that mean that she was selling out, settling? Some people felt she was casting herself in that role – her real life, evolved, older woman self. And once that happened, the whole “Cougar thing” became cemented in our culture.
But that show’s old news. It jumped the shark. For those of you who don’t know what that means, you’re showing your age (insert wink here… or go watch Happy Days reruns). In short, it means something hot has passed its prime, lost its luster, etc. So with that I decree (like I have any power, but it sounds good) the definition of Cougars hereby obsolete! Cougars, the way we once knew them – while not necessarily old in age – are old news. It’s time for an update. Or a remake!
Enter the Cougel. In her thirties, post divorce, with a solid network of family and friends. And Jewish parents who want what’s best for her. And all the good (love) and bad (guilt) that comes with it.
In summary, I believe (and I hope you do too), that this Cougel has jumped the Cougar.
I brace myself for some harsh comments, but I’m used to it. Cougels have thick skin…under all that fur.
Supposedly, I’ve always been a picky eater. Whatever was put in front of me was never good enough. My mother would cook dinner for the family daily, in preparation for my dad’s arrival from work. He would walk in the door in his suit, and then stop, drop his bag, and clap his hands for his three girls to come running. And so we did, one after the other. He’d lift each one of us up, kiss our cheeks, swing us around with glee, and then kiss my mother on the cheek hello. I might be filling in some of the blanks with some Brady Bunch episodes, but since we were kinda like the Jewish Brady Bunch (and I was Jan), I think it’s okay.
Dinner was always fish or meat, a starch, a vegetable, and an Israeli salad (iceberg lettuce that in my memory was always wilted, cut up tomatoes, and cucumbers with the peel still on them). Twice a week, we had peas. I hated peas. But it probably wasn’t their fault. I didn’t like anything that landed on my plate. I’m still not sure if I was rebelling against the assumption that I was supposed to accept whatever was put in front of me, or whether it’s because I questioned everything (still do) that came easily. Maybe it’s because I am the middle child who isn’t content with what she gets. My sisters’ plates always looked brighter and more plentiful. So with one hand cradling my head, telegraphing my disappointment to my mother, the fingers on my other hand would crush each pea flat on my plate, relishing the satisfaction I’d get seeing their green guts squish out. I got sent to my room for what I did to those peas.
Cut to thirty years later. I can eat whatever I want! Mom’s not dishing out what I should eat (when I’m not with her). I can peruse the menu and with enthusiasm order whatever it is I’m in the mood for. And yet, when the food arrives, I instantly wilt like the lettuce from the Israeli salad. My friends, past boyfriends, find it amusing, if not irritating, but I don’t find it funny at all. It’s frustrating. I don’t do it on purpose. I just can’t help but look at the dish I get critically. It’s too cold, too small, or not the right blend of ingredients.
Some questions come to mind, right? What would you do? Do you passive aggressively make a face so that the waiter can see? Or are you the type of person who pretends to like it, and not make a fuss? Or, do you kindly flag the poor busboy who happens to be nearby pouring your water, and tell him that no, this dish won’t do?
The last time I did this was with my coworkers at a nice steakhouse when a vendor took us all out for lunch. It wasn’t my fault that my dish came last. But was it my fault that my steak sandwich was cold, the bread floppy? I made both guys sitting next to me (poor chaps) taste it, to prove my point. They agreed, but they were just being nice. The assh*le sitting across from me, who I secretly adore because he always calls me on my shit, promptly said: “Cougel, the day you figure out how to order off a menu is the day you’ll find your next partner.”
Silence at the table, followed by uncomfortable laughter. But I wasn’t offended. He had a point. I high-fived him (and knocked over my wine).
Is it true? Are our eating habits and tastes linked to our romantic ones? And if so, can we help it, or is it ingrained in us?
I can pretend to like what I get. I can pretend not to care whether the thing I’ve selected and invested in is beneath my expectations. But then I’d be pretending. And I’m really bad at that. Maybe it’s my expectations that I need to change (another thing ass*hole friend mentioned above said to me).
I don’t have an answer yet. I still eat what I want, although I complain about it less, and pick my battles. But when I do like something, I love it, and scream it from the rooftops. At least when I find a guy that suits my tastes, I won’t be looking around for the waiter, or for anyone. I’ll love it, he’ll see it on my face, and he’ll know.
It’s one of those cute little words I thought up tonight that is probably funnier in a group setting, like the long dinner I just had, but I’m still giggling as I write this (could be the wine). It started because I was explaining how I just started watching Californication, and how sexy I find Hank Moody to be. Yes, he’s classically sexy, but I stumbled because the first thing I wanted to say was he is sexy because he is a successful author. But the words came out all jumbled together. Classic Freudian slip.
I remember when “ugly sexy” was a big thing in the tabloids, or Hollywood, or wherever. When all these “ugly” or unclassically handsome movie stars were hot. They were called “ugly sexy.” Like Al Rickman, way before he was cast as Snipe in the Harry Potter movies (does this show my age? No matter). Okay, how about Harvey Keitel when he stripped naked in “The Piano”? So that was before your time too. But you get my point.
Now there’s a whole new breed of men! Or not. They’re the ones in their forties, fifties, and sixties…Powerful agents, CFO’s, partners in Wall Street firms, Chefs, or even famous published Grandpas. Wait, is Steve Jobs succsexy? With a name like that, he was never meant to be poor and unemployed. My point is, a successful man is and has always been sexy to women. This is not a newsflash.
I met two men tonight at a friend’s birthday dinner. This is a good friend of mine who I’ve known for years, who is established in his own right. But I never deemed him as one who frequented succsexy circles. But the friends that joined him were. On the surface (or on a Jdate profile), I’d dismiss his pals as regular Joes (I think that was one of their names). But no. One of them, a conservative looking fellow in his late twenties, when I asked him, “So what’s your deal, tell me real quick,” did so as follows: “I graduated West Point then went to Columbia for my MBA then became a Vice President at Meryll Lynch and I just bought a house in the Hamptons.” If that guy isn’t going to have fun this summer, banging every Cougar in Southhampton – having some serious succsex – then I have it all wrong. And all along, two other men, who confirm my theory, were dining at the table next to us. Chris Noth and Zach Lalalapolis, the funny hairy Greek comedian from “The Hangover,” who no longer needs a last name because he’s been indicted into Succsexy’s Hall of Fame (I didn’t mean to rhyme just then.)
But are successful women sexy to men? That’s what I want to know. I mean, they are sexy from afar. If you have an interview with them, or see them at a movie premiere or in high heels representing you in your divorce. But I’m wondering if men want to actually marry them. Is a powerful women too succsexy for a long term relationship?
Does succsexy work in reverse? Did it ever?
It would be nice to bring succsexy back (okay I said it).
What is this new phrase? I’ve been hearing it a lot lately. I have no clue where it came from… probably some reality show or pop culture reference that I’ve missed while focusing my attention on blogs, Facebook, and general day dreaming.
I’m guessing that it’s a sexy way of covering up the truth of the matter, as in “f*cked up,” “bonkers,” and “kookoo bananas.” I think it’s mostly being used by men, who are themselves going through some “crazy” phase but can’t acknowledge it. Because this is a term relegated to women only. Especially women over thirty, as in cougars… cougars on the verge..women on the verge of a nervous breakdown (great movie by the way). Men aren’t crazy! Hell no. They are guilty of other things: working late, infuriatingly rational behavior, snoring, and not looking at maps. But messy behavior? The all over the place kind that scatters sense in a hundred directions? That’s our bag.
So I think men coined this term “hot mess” to soften the blow. A man can be messy, but when he is, it’s hot. It’s okay. It’s intriguing and attractive because he is showing vulnerability, and that’s unexpected. And women swoon when a man shows his soft messy side. Especially drunk at a bar (but not in the delivery room or after he’s lost his job).
The last thing I can think of, is that men came up with it because while they might criticize or reject “crazy” chicks, in reality, they freakin love it. They love that we are high on life one minute, and crying in broad daylight the next. They like when we speak openly about our mess, and then deny it an hour later. They want to reach out and save us when we are cloaked in it, and don’t necessarily know what to do with us when we have it all together. Because apparently, crazy is hot. It’s the new mess.