Cougar Tales and Other Adventures
Cougar Tales and Other Adventures
An Essay by Kala Wahl
At this point in my life, I’d never given much thought to becoming a “cougar.” Younger men have always repulsed me—men tend to be hard to stomach at any age. And only at 20, I feel as if I’ve seen it all.
I wouldn’t necessarily say I have a “type,” and I also wouldn’t necessarily say I fit into anyone else’s “type,” either. My dating profile tries to sell the persona of someone cute, blonde, and bubbly—underscored by the phrase, “Can you keep up?” It’s in italics so men get the idea that I’m the one in charge (someone told me they like that), as if I were holding up a large staff like a bearded Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt. But how in charge could I possibly be on a dating app catering to those who are seeking arrangements, a fancy term for younger women who are looking to date men on oxygen tanks with lots of money? Technically, them and their fat leather wallets would be in charge. But I had convinced myself that I was genuinely attracted to the men behind the oxygen masks and that their money was only an added perk, or the cherry on top of my canned, drugstore spray-tanned body. I had a million justifications for dating men my dad’s age or older. Notably, I figured I wouldn’t even be dating them if my own dad had been in my life.
It’s not like I’m great at keeping these dinosaurs around, anyways. All the sexual steam from instant messaging on the dating app seems to fizzle out when I’m sitting right across from my prehistoric dates, fingers anxiously picking at a scab on my knee beneath the table. What a contrast—some kind of intricate and expensive steak dinner in front of me, an ode to how much money my date has and how he has no qualms about spending it on someone he just met, and my blood stained fingernails picking at a scab practically right beneath the plate. It usually only takes a certain string of words—not even a minute to listen to but still so impactful—to spill out from lips and into their ears before they determine I’m not the product they thought they were purchasing. I may look like my profile picture, but I guess I never sound quite like what these men are expecting, or continue the sensual conversation as effortlessly as I had via text. I can never tell what exactly will tip them off, but it’s always something. This one guy, Edward, asked for the check after I told him what I microwave for dinner every night.
“I’ll buy a bag of chicken nuggets and a bag of chicken tenders...and I’ll mix ‘em. I do maybe four chicken nuggets and two chicken tenders, just because the tenders are much larger, so you don’t need that many of those. Three minutes and done.”
In Edward’s defense, I suppose this was a stark contrast from the texts we had exchanged through the app about me giving him a hand-job in a jacuzzi. I’ve had several dates like that, where the expectations just don’t meet reality. But I’m attractive enough to where half the time I can still manage to fuck these guys. Because they’re old, you know? They’ll usually take any bleach blonde with a pulse. The hair doesn’t even have to be real—one coot named Charles accidentally yanked my wig off when I was riding him, but I guess he was way too over stimulated or something to even notice it fall to my thigh. He didn’t have his glasses on either.
I haven’t been able to secure a long-term ‘Sugar Daddy.’ If a date is successful, I let them fuck me in some hotel room. A nice one, of course. I’ll spend the night with them, and I’ll wake up with a few hundred dollar bills tucked in my purse as I hop in the taxi they’ve called for me. The bills are usually poking out from underneath a makeup compact or out of a side pocket. I guess these men felt just handing me the money was classless.
My friends call me a prostitute, but I say I’m just dating.
And I no longer want to limit myself to random old men and paid one-night stands. I should try younger men too, shouldn’t I? I miss not doing any work in bed. Starfishing, as I like to call it, where I just lay beneath my suitor with my legs spread wide (either on my belly or back, depending on how recently I’ve eaten) and let them hump me. God, I haven’t had unpaid sex in ages.
I must say, though, I never quite got the allure of having a bright-eyed, fresh-faced sexual partner. In high school, you hear that older men do it better, they’re aged like a fine wine and more experienced—experience was always the key. You want somebody who knows what they’re doing; somebody who has a dick as seasoned as a Vietnam vet and is prepared to take arms wherever, whenever. But as is with most sexual encounters, it sounds better in theory—the whip cream that was supposed to be sensual, but ended up clogging your anus, which was rather embarrassing to explain to the family doctor...or that one-night stand you were so excited for with the guy who told you he did UFC training, but the excitement wore off four days later when he texted you there was a herpes outbreak on the gym mats, so you’d better get tested. Realistically, not even a partner rivaling the age of your father necessarily makes sex any better. From my experience, their bodies are creakier and their moans aren’t usually derived from any sort of pleasure...but from the immense pain they’re probably experiencing in their hip joints.
My woman-card was swiped by someone ‘older.’ He was a senior boy—James; the captain of the track team and a self-proclaimed lover of William Blake. His resume sounded great, but after he broke my heart and asked for his letterman jacket back, I actually read William Blake’s poetry and realized it was the most pretentious pile of shit I’ve ever read. However, at the time if this kid and I weren’t talking you would have been sure to hear about it in my journal—along with other stories of how I hated my life and how high school was sure to last forever (see entry titled, “Friend at Lunch Commented on Spray Tan, Pale Line on Upper Thigh from Dripping Pee I Forgot to Wipe Gave It Away”). Insert teen angst, crush on my cross-country coach, a few doodles of butterflies, elaborate plans for this cross-country coach to be my rebound fling and then you’d have My High School Spectacular, Volumes 1-3. But in summation, James—or affectionately known by me as that senior fucker—was older than me, and the sex? It wasn’t any better than what the acne-ridden teens my own age were producing.
So hand beneath my chin, lying flat on my belly, eyes looking up to the gods for guidance as I took it in the back from the latest geezer I had met on my dating app (his name was Harold), I couldn’t help but wonder what younger men had to offer me. But it was also really hard to think about that with Harold’s knees cracking every five seconds. It was so loud.
Yesterday while black makeup was resting in the bags of my eyes from the night before and my finger jammed up my nostril—you’d like to think I was adjusting my nose ring, but I was really picking my nose—I was standing on a platform for the Red Line. I couldn’t find sunglasses to shield my half-open, red eyes from any concerned adults, so I shoved my reading glasses on. I doubt it mattered; you could smell cannabis and Katy Perry perfume from a mile away. But that didn’t deter my young lover.
“Excuse me miss, but could you help me?”
He tapped my shoulder, slinging a Deerfield High School duffle across his broad shoulder. What was this suburban piece of toast doing in the city? I could ask, but I’m far too interested in myself to care. He looked like he wrestled—and trust me on that—I know a wrestler’s body; I’ve seen a few locker rooms in my day. Instinctively, I couldn’t help but think of the trouble him and I would have gotten into in high school. But I’m a hotshot collegiate now. I’m mature, perhaps not yet a woman, but definitely not a girl—because I don’t think women still wear Hello Kitty underwear.
“Yeah, what?” I spat crudely.
Who was I trying to impress? I’m out of this kid’s league and I feel too high to respond kindly to someone who called me miss, as if I were a dainty southern belle about to offer him iced tea on a silver tray. Yes, I’m from the south, but it definitely looks best in my rearview mirror.
“Well I missed my train, and I’ve g-gotta be somewhere and I need to find a Blue Line, but I’m n-not from here and…” He spoke hurriedly.
His puppy-dog eyes were so wide it looked as if he walked in on his parents having sex or something. And I don’t know if it was the Mother Theresa in me or what, but I did genuinely want to help him. I’m older, I have some knowledge of the city. I’m experienced. I know where a Blue Line is...but I’m also sexually experienced. And I began to wonder: do I want to have sex with this kid? A sudden urge to guide him and teach him the ways of a woman’s body overwhelmed me, but is that illegal? How old is he? Maybe that would make it better—forbidden love. But I know one thing for sure that’s not illegal: thoughts. I can think whatever I want.
I told him to follow me into the train car. I patted the seat right next to me. It was stained an oddish brown in the center, which judging by the size and position of the stain, was most certainly period blood. He sat anyways. I took it as a testament of love. I explained in detail what stop he should be getting off on to transfer to the Blue Line, and bit my tongue to keep myself from expressing my desire for him to get off on me. He’d lean in close to me—clunky Android in hand—asking me to point out on the map where he was going. My nose was so close to his neck that every breath I inhaled was purely Abercrombie & Fitch cologne, which at first was a nice change from the Old Spice cologne my suitor from last night had borrowed from his dad’s medicine cabinet, but then I got flashbacks. Abercrombie & Fitch. The words echoed in my head.
I thought of evenings my freshman year in high school spent wearing tight white Abercrombie shorts that emphasized I didn’t quite know how to conceal my puberty-given thunder thighs yet, walking around the city mall with a boy who wore that exact same cologne. He was a grade above and I stopped hanging out with him after one particular mall visit, where his wallet fell out of his pocket at Victoria’s Secret and a barrage of condoms spilled out. The cologne brought it all back: My youth, my ignorance, my thunder thighs. I looked next to me at Blue Line boy, and suddenly scooted an inch away. I’m not sure if there’s anything cute about high school boys anymore. In hindsight they weren’t really that cute while I was in high school either.
“So, I’m confused, where do I transfer to a Blue Line again?”
“Lake,” I muttered, less enthused.
The charm was wearing off further; I could've sworn I’d told him Lake about fifty times. This cougar thing isn’t fun if they don’t even listen to your guidance.
“Lake?" He asked, as if the word were foreign. “As in...Lake Michigan?”
“Lake—the Red Line stop...look, at the map, right on your phone,” I exhaled. What was this kid’s GPA? I could feel the claws retracting between my fingers, and the cougar in me? She was slowly retreating back into her mountain.
One flaw was the gateway to so many more—like weed or League of Legends. I started noticing other things I didn’t like. The spots of acne on his face were covered in dry blood; he was a picker, and I’m a popper. His bottom lip hung open and I could hear him take sharp breaths in, and I was just waiting—on the edge of my seat—to see if a fly would innocently wander in and choke him. My stop was coming up at this point, and I didn’t even consider saying goodbye. I stood up and headed for the doors.
“Hey! I can’t even get your number?” He called behind me.
That’s when I really saw his teeth. I was not blinded by love anymore; they were slightly yellow. As were all boys’ in high school: unhygienic, gross, and making you wonder what’s so hard about picking up a fucking toothbrush in the mornings.
“You’re too young for me,” I said deadpan, strutting off the train car.
I’m only 20, don’t you have to be 35+ to even stray on cougar territory anyways?
Men suck at any age. Grey haired or struggling to even grow hair on their thighs, flaws emerge like classmates scattering around you when you pull out a pack of gum from your backpack. But I’m amazed I was able to even stop myself from jumping on Deerfield boy; usually my impulses aren’t that in line. I’m accustomed to fucking anything and everything—backseat of a car in an Arby’s parking lot, or fancy hotel with a bar. I don’t think twice about any of it. It’s weird how it all works. Maybe it's because of my raging bipolar disorder.
But for now, I’m going to go home, and spend tonight with my nugget and tender mix. Remember: four chicken nuggets and two tenders. I suppose it really depends on how hungry you are, though.