• author
    • Julie Parker

    • December 17, 2013 in Columnists

    Not a cougar

    To my aggressive flirter, I stated the obvious. “I’m too old for you.”

    “But, I love older women,” he insisted.

    With deliberate eye contact, I responded, “I could have given birth to you. It’s not appealing.”

    It’s crazy how often I have engaged in this dialogue. I truly don’t understand why very young men pursue me, when they have such an extensive playing field of young, attractive, thinner women. Post-tryst, the age gap would certainly become an issue. I do realize, however, that some couples, such as celebrities Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, have been able to work around it. But, they’re an exception.

    Robert Wagner had an affair with Barbara Stanwyck – who he met while filming “Titanic” in 1953 — when he was 22 and she was 45. Wagner wrote, “Making love with her was an entirely different thing than I had ever experienced… I had never been with a woman with her level of knowledge, her level of taste. I was so incredibly taken with her, taken by her.” But, the 23 year age difference was a problem, and Stanwyck ended the four-year relationship.  (Not much later, Wagner married Natalie Wood.)

    Stanwyck’s second husband, Robert Taylor, was 32 years younger. Stanwyck was definitely a cougar — a pursuer of younger men. I am not. I find it ridiculous.

    A couple of years ago, on a summer Sunday afternoon, I actually enjoyed meeting one young man. I had finished listening to a fabulous blues set by Laura Morvan on a historic street in a nearby suburb. It was only 4:30, and I wasn’t quite ready to head home, so I strolled about half-a-block to a local favorite tavern.

    The sun still shone brightly, so my eyes were a little slow in adjusting to the establishment’s lower light as I entered the bar. I sat just a few stools down from the entrance, and ordered a drink. As I waited for my order, I glanced around to see whose company I would be sharing. There were a few worn-hard gentlemen crowding the end near the front window, and a 20-something man near me, with only an empty stool between us.

    After my vision had acclimated to the darker ambiance, I discreetly checked out the young man, taking in his rakish jet black hair which gently grazed the furry collar of his bomber jacket. I happen to love bomber jackets. In fact, I love most things connected to the 1930s-1940s. I imagined myself hooking up with him in 1943, with Big Band music playing in the background, until he suddenly stood up and walked over to the jukebox.

    Imagine my shock when he selected a Cab Calloway tune. What are the odds?

    When he returned to his seat, I leaned in and told him how impressed I was at his unusual musical selection, especially considering his age. (Notice my thought processes didn’t encompass the fact that it was before my time, as well.) As he shared his diverse opinions on musicians and music (including Woody Guthrie quotes), I tried not to lose myself in his soft, dark brown eyes. He was ridiculously attractive on so many levels. And, to top it off, somewhere in the conversation he happened to mention he was re-building a deuce coupe.

    When he walked away for a bathroom visit, I shared this crazy painfully-too-young-for-me-man encounter on Facebook. The responsive comments included “Go for it!” and “Be a cougar!”

    I shook my head laughing.

    We spent another two hours talking and drinking. When night fell, I was ready to call it a day. He offered to walk me to my car and took my hand as we crossed the quiet street — so sweet and charming.

    It was a beautiful evening, so he suggested we first walk down to “Reflections.” Flipping through my mental Rolodex of businesses in the area, it didn’t sound familiar. Curious, I agreed.

    Hand-in-hand, he led me down the softly lit, streetlamp-lined road for a couple of blocks, then down a paved bike trail, and then further down a dirt side path’s gentle slope to a large flat rock at the lake’s edge.

    I stepped onto the rock with him, looked up and was momentarily taken aback by the vision which lay before us. The entire length of colored lights on the Rainbow Bridge reflected onto the water’s surface below, with the water’s stillness allowing an uncanny liquid facsimile of its original.

    I was utterly enchanted by this endearing young man out of his time. Sadly, his old world charm and old-fashioned manners could not bridge the Grand Canyon-ish age gap between us.  

    Of course, I made out with him. I’m not stupid.

    At the other end of the spectrum is a tall, cute, red-headed 30-something gentleman currently on the prowl which began, oddly enough, via LinkedIn — the business networking site.

    He sent me a request. I accepted it. His “thank you” message offered more than the usual, so I responded in kind. Next thing you know, we’re exchanging humorous messages. He suggests we leave LinkedIn and switch to email, which we do.

    We exchanged a few photographs (not those kind of photographs, mate), and the tenor of the messages began to shift. He repeatedly writes how attractive he finds me. I realize that I need to head him off at the pass, so to speak.

    I type, “I am 56, young man.”

    He responds, “I like older.”

    “I look better at a distance, and in the dark.”

    “Everybody looks better in the dark.”

    Sighing, my fingertips type concisely and succinctly, “I’m in perimenopause. I have cellulite and age spots.”

    “I’ll call them freckles, because I love freckles.”

    I’m aware there are women reading this who are thinking, “I would love to have younger men interested in me.”

    Don’t get me wrong. I am appreciative and flattered. I am also amused and annoyed. I mean, where were all of these attractive young men when I was actually their age?

    I disagree with the oft used adage that age is “just a number.” One’s age reflects the number of years danced, cried, listened, hugged, laughed, read, loved, conversed, traveled and explored.

    While it is true that one may accrue a high number of experiences during a shorter lifetime, it cannot compare to the years of witnessing world events, cultural growth and changing of the seasons.

    It’s the difference between a hill and a mountain. While a cougar may prowl the lower hills and dales, it is most content when taking in an expansive view from a ledge at the top of a mountain.

    • The sad part is men of our age date such younger women. When I was 40 and just divorced I met a young man 21 and had a fling for a few weeks and realized he was so inexperienced and in need of a teacher and I was not in the mood for instruction. Sometimes a boy is just a boy and a man is a man. Great story.

    • Yes, men date much younger women, no with similar reasons that women date much younger men. I prefer experience, as well. 😉

      • Carolyn Wyler

      • December 19, 2013 at 11:00 pm
      • Reply

      This was really good Julie. I love how honest and funny you are.

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