Weekly Column: Kill Off the Cougars

©Stephenie Freeman

There’s nothing I like better than after putting my boys to bed, grabbing a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Karmel Sutra, and plopping down on the couch for some mind-numbing T.V. I’m not a huge fan of reality shows, but after a long day watching shows like “The Real Housewives of New York” certainly gives me the escape that I’m looking for.

Watching those shows always makes me appreciate my own life. I’ll take my reality over those crazy ladies’ every day of the week and twice on Wednesdays.

Speaking of Wednesdays, reality television just hit a new low with a program called “The Cougar.” In a regurgitated reality show format similar to “The Bachelor” this mother of four, Stacey, will have the opportunity to date 20 eligible bachelors that are half her age. Of course Cougar Stacey, who is 40-years-old, says that she “wants to prove that age is simply a number.”

Ah, spoken just like a true cougar looking for a nice, young kill.

The whole “cougar” phenomenon makes my stomach hurt. Personally, I don’t get the appeal of labeling yourself as a cougar or any other kind of animal. Animal labels for people are rarely good: dogs, pigs, snakes, jackasses are all used as labels and are never, ever seen as a good thing.

A young family friend who’s in college mistakenly called me a cougar once. Instead of being flattered, I was extremely offended. Instead of thinking “Hey, I’ve still got it,” all I could think was, “How old does he think I am?” or even worse “How old do I look?” He’s lucky I didn’t kill him since that’s what cougars do—devour young men when they least expect it.

Maybe it’s because I am the mother of two boys who will be dating young girls that makes me hate the whole cougar craze. Please note that I said “girls” and not “women.” I guess I’m just old fashioned, but I want my boys to fall in love with girls who are just as immature and silly just like they are. I want my boys to bring home a girl who looks to me as a possible role model, not someone who wants to reminisce about the pop culture of the 1980’s.

“Guess who’s coming to dinner, Mom? It’s your hot, newly-divorced friend from the Junior League! You remember her? She’s the one with the son just a little bit older than I am.”

There I go again, getting all tacky about an older woman dating someone who’s barely old enough to legally buy a nice bottle of red wine. Oh, but what am I saying. A 21-year-old boy (the youngest of Cougar Stacey’s prey) wouldn’t be buying wine; a keg of beer maybe, but never a bottle of wine.

And I’m certainly not saying that you have to be divorced to be labeled as a cougar. I think the only requirements are being single and possessing a new-and-improved sex drive. That and a platinum card since you’ll probably be the one paying for dinner.

I liked it better in the good old days when the women were the ones being hunted. I think being a cougar in the dating world goes against the laws of nature. Wild cougars prowl and stalk the weakness prey at the bar—I mean jungle—until they finally go in for the kill, usually sometime right before last call. I tried to find more information about cougars on the Internet, but when I Googled the word all I got were links to websites like DateACougar.com and AARP.org.

I decided to watch the show regardless of my hardened feelings towards the subject. I watched as the cubs (what the twenty-something boys are referred to as) arrive on a party bus as Cougar Stacey tells the camera, “I’m in my prime, they’re in their prime, so not only is that connection outside the bedroom, it’s inside the bedroom as well!”

Two seconds later the T.V. was off and the Ben and Jerry’s was securely back in the fridge. I headed upstairs to lock my cubs in their bedrooms for the next twenty years.

I’ll let them out when all of the cougars are safely on the endangered species list.

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