Cougars. Not exactly an endangered species when we notice how often we hear about them. They’re everywhere.. or at least the WORD is everywhere.
A search on Urban Dictionary turns up this definition:
Noun. A 35+ year old female who is on the “hunt” for a much younger, energetic, willing-to-do-anything male. The cougar can frequently be seen in a padded bra, cleavage exposed, propped up against a swanky bar in San Francisco (or other cities)waiting, watching, calculating; gearing up to sink her claws into an innocent young and strapping buck who happens to cross her path. Man is cougar’s number one prey.
UD also gives the newly-informed a chance to buy CougarGear. (I’m veering off-message, but would a coug really wear a baby-tee or baseball cap describing herself as an “older” cat on the prowl for young, male prey?)
This got me thinking. We need words to describe our lives, the stuff and thoughts of our lives. If there’s not a special or unique word for “some thing,” does it mean the thing doesn’t exist for us?
As far as I can see, and I may be myopic — there is no single word, like “cougar,” that defines the older guy who hunts and hits on much younger women.
I’ve been taking informal surveys on this topic for the past few weeks. My respondents — both men and women — ranged in age from 27 to 71. They were pretty much stumped to come up with a word that corresponds to “cougar,” but applies to the older guy stalking younger women. My women respondents had some colorful things to say about the behavior of the not-so-prime guys that go way way down the age-scale to find action. Here’s an example of a non-X-rated reaction:
“Why do we need a word to describe older guys hitting on younger women? They’re called ‘Men.’ “
“Sugar Daddy. That’s the only kind of codger that a younger woman who can do it with, repeatedly.”
“Remember that ‘Sex in the City’ episode (season 2, episode 8) when Samantha is in bed and her much older guy walks naked towards the bathroom? And she decides the deal’s over when she sees the geezer’s saggy butt? OK, she’s a gold-digger, but does that make him a sugar daddy? Kind of a mixed metaphor. She wants gold, but he’s about sugar. How does that work?”
(Ooops. That last one is heading down a different path. But you get the point.)
So here’s the cougar, that slightly frayed pussycat clubbing with the smooth-faced, tight-bodied, buns-of-steel boys at the bar. What about her counterpart?
At the other end of the bar, there’s a guy who’s 50+ thinking he’s perfectly fabulous and appealing, trying to pick up women 20-30 years younger. Actually, it’s more like “guys.” These dudes tend to work in packs of 2, 3 or 4. “Sugar Daddy” doesn’t quite describe it, because the men in question are not necessarily working their financial assets. These coug-guys seriously believe they are simply worthy of stalking and catching younger women.
Is he a “letch?” Maybe, if his behavior is seen as borderline-repulsive by the women he’s after.
How about a “manther?” My gay friends think “manther” might work for an older guy prowling for younger men. It does fit the predatory feline image created by “cougar.” It’s catchy. But it feels contrived.
“Guyrilla.” This one came from someone on the set of the Jersey Shore. (I didn’t make this up!) He must have been inspired by some of the furrier cast members. Well, there is something hairy and torso-intense about predatory older men. At least it often feels that way.
Finding the right word is a bit like defining porn. To paraphrase Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart (1964)…”we’ll know it when we see it.”
Please send over your ideas. And then, ladies, let’s get going and infiltrate the language.