People can’t get enough of Cougars. People consider cougars a hilarious and scintillating cultural development. Cougars! people say with a smile of anticipatory delight, even if no Cougar is around, as if just saying the word is like blowing a high frequency whistle, and one will come running along in short order.
A periodical no less august than Newsweek, in fact, called 2009 the “Year of the Cougar.” We kid you not. That’s some puissant cultural momentum there. Pretty soon Cougars will be bringing so much attitude and middle-age sass they will cannibalize their own metaphor. Little kids will ask, “Why are those scary cats at the zoo named after sexually aggressive, pre-menopausal women?” By the time those kids are teenagers, their won’t even be a first love, just a first Cougar. “Timmy met a forty-year old last night, Frank,” a beaming mom will announce. “Oh, did he now?” the dad will smirk, thinking, that’s my son.
At school, Senior cheerleaders won’t be caught dead with any boy above the eighth grade. College fraternities will bus in divorcees from suburban neighborhoods for Homecoming. Teachers caught sexting and cavorting with men their own age will be fired and exposed on tabloid web pages and Fox News. “What’s happening to our society?” an aged and tear-stained Glenn Beck will ask.
Redox, a cosmetic procedure that introduces fine wrinkles into smooth young skin, will make pharmaceutical companies billions. Frustrated 19 year old coeds will spend whole afternoons sitting on chicken wire, hoping to imprint a simulacra of cottage cheese on their thighs. Any woman older than 35 without fake boobs won’t be able to renew her driver’s license. Pederasts will leer through the chain linked fences around retirement homes and pimply kids will sneak into the midnight showing of Sex in the City 12.
It’s all very different and as Newsweek seems to appreciate, it’s all very exciting. Cougars! They might finally right all the imbalance and longing and soullessness that besmirches our times. In retrospect, the Cougar just makes so much sense. In the 2000 movie High Fidelity, record store owner Rob avers,
“Read any women's magazine and you'll see the same complaint over and over again: men...are hopeless ...they are selfish, greedy, clumsy, unsophisticated. These complaints...are kind of ironic. Back [in high school], all we wanted was foreplay, and girls weren't interested...they used to thump us if we tried. ...Between the ages of fourteen and twenty-four, foreplay changes from being something that boys want to do and girls don't, to something that women want and men can't be bothered with. ... The perfect match, if you ask me, is between the Cosmo woman and the fourteen-year old boy.”
The thing about social revolutions, especially ones foreseen by John Cusack comedies, is innocent people get caught in the cross-hairs. In the space between the old and new order there are casualties. For the late twenty something men and women of San Francisco in 2010, who still think in anachronistic terms of dating and then marrying someone roughly their own age, there are frustrations. Our instincts are at odds with our awareness of cultural forces. The idea that a guy should make a lot of money and have a really attractive younger spouse - it’s very 2008, and way outmoded, so much so that stubbornly pursuing it is not just banal and cliche but kind of tragic. It’s Charlie Chaplan making silent movies after the introduction of sound.
But we have faith. We will adapt. We will embrace. Why shouldn’t we? Cougars! As eloquently put by the WTANGISF editors:
“The truth is that on balance maybe old-school marital monogamy for all its socio-economical advantages isn't that psychologically beneficial for individuals. Perhaps being married to a [woman] who fantasizes about [Prince William] and resents being stuck with you isn't so wonderful for anyone. Perhaps regular guys are happier being celibate surfers or cartoonists or whatever than emasculated office cubicle providers. Perhaps [women are] happier talking trash with [their] single friends over cosmos and getting [comfort from Tucker Max] nine times a year. It's a different way of life sure but we don't know that it's a bad one.”
Who can argue with that? Rawrr!