First I would like to point that I don't like this word, Cougar; yet another way to denigrate women, as a man came up with it. Do we call older men with younger women elephants? Warthogs? Apes? No. We just assume they have money and men call them lucky.
Something odd has happened in my life. When I was 32 or so, my boyfriend was 23. We had a blast. I knew it wasn't going anywhere; I’d just survived a rather ugly divorce from a husband who constantly told me I wasn't sexy. This young man simply thought I was a goddess. I could live with that. It healed me, until too many emotions got in the way and I saw I was not doing the best thing. This boy had fallen in love with me. Wanted children! But in a way, I treated him like my child and that part was quite fun, making him lunches for work, sewing his jeans, paying for his car repairs.
Now, years later, I have my own 21-year-old, quite an intelligent, charming and handsome chap. And, oddly, he likes older women. He feels girls his own age are not up to par. So recently he brought home a 32-year old woman, though she looked 19. She was adorable, but had no aspirations, no life really. But he adored her and she him.
After we all had a few laughs, she left for some audition and he told me her age. I have to say I was shocked. After that passed I felt my own hypocrisy rising up in me like a Cobra slithering out of a basket. I may have even heard the flute made from a gourd.
"Honey, you can't date that girl... you can't be serious? Right?"
"Mom, of all these girls I am dating, I like her the best, and she is totally into me. We have the same interests and she's hot."
We sat at the kitchen table. I tried to act peppy, and fun. That would be my trademark, and the reason all of his friends like me. Because I truly like them and treat his friends like adults, all the way back since they are, say 5. This has always been my approach to young people. But moving along.
"Mom, can I confess something?"
Oh, God, here it comes. She's pregnant. NO! He has his whole life laid out in front of him and I am not going to be a grandmother. I already have 7 year-old twins!
I acted casual, poured more coffee and sat down.
"Well, I really like this one girl, you know, the older one."
A week passed and no sign of her. Relief. Then, suddenly my son rushed out of his cave.
"Mom, that girl, the one I like, hasn't called me back. In almost a week! Or answered my texts, emails or IM's! We had a real connection!"
I slumped in my chair. The work has been done for me.
"Honey, she is 32. Typically girls at that age start thinking they want babies. A family. Security. You are a college student, so while you are darling, I can see how she may have to nip this in the bud before she falls for you."
This made him feel a little better, but did not stop him from checking his phone every 10 seconds.
"It's not personal,” I said. “She started to feel something, shared it with her girlfriends and, well, look, I have been there. In the end, someone will get hurt."
"I don't care about that!"
"But she does."
"Why don't you guys just be friends? You share so many interests, let it play out."
"Thanks, Mom." My six-foot son hugged me, returned to his room and all the electrical devices that it stores.
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