I Was Cougar Bait 

Sexually confident older women in search of younger men? Nick Santoro explores the scene at a Danville singles party.

Page 5 of 5

"My daughter is a freshman there now!" she exclaimed, more out of shock than enthusiasm. And, after a moment's pause, "You look old enough to be my son." All intrigue sufficiently sucked from the room, I instantly felt more relaxed and comfortable than I had all evening. The need to keep up appearances was gone. We proceeded to discuss financial aid, fields of study, the recession, and post-graduation employment. It was about as romantic as a parent-teacher conference. If only my wife could see me now.

"Well, it looks like everyone is starting to leave," she announced after nearly ten minutes, and I took the hint, standing and wishing her a safe drive home. Paul and I walked out of the bar and into the crisp evening air, feeling relieved but more confused than ever about cougars. We decided to decompress over a late-night snack at a nearby Burger King.

Despite my utter failure as a wingman, two women had asked for Paul's number. (A few weeks later, one of them even turned into a couple dates.) Still, we shared a sense that the majority of the women at the party were merely playing a part — normal moms and ex-wives you couldn't pick off the street as different from any other. It seemed to me that the whole cougar image was but a smokescreen for a valuable new dating mantra: you like who you like, and that's okay. Simple as that. On the other hand, deep down inside, maybe I was just bitter no cougar had asked for my number too.

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