on the prowl
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On the Prowl
March, 2008, Page 130
Photo by Jesse Rieser
Mastro’s Ocean Club, 9:30 p.m.
Speaking of drinks, the key to survival at Ocean Club is never to lower your drink past chest level. If you do, you’ll never get that martini back to your mouth. That’s how dense the Friday night crowd gets here, as North Scottsdale’s beautiful and brightest compete elbow to elbow for space along the O Bar.
This Friday is no exception, but for one thing: There appears to be a shortage of young men among the crush of guests. What feels like 500 people mill about in some impromptu casting call for an AARP commercial. If the Website urbancougar.com is right about this place – “Cougs in North Scottsdale keep their dens nearby so they can explore hunting grounds like… Ocean Club, and bring their nubile carcasses home easily” – then the feeding frenzy will have to wait until another night.
California boy Jeremy Mape, urbancougar.com’s co-founder and CEO, has more than a few tales about safaris to Ocean Club and its nearby competitor, Barcelona. With his site averaging 50,000 visitors monthly, Mape says he got into the cougar business at exactly the right time – just when the word gained currency.
“This isn’t the 1950s housewife,” says the 20-something Mape. “In the modern day, you have women who have money and power and who don’t want to settle down. That scares a lot of people, I suppose, but I think it’s extremely liberating.”
Mape’s mention of societal fear raises an interesting point: Given the sudden upsurge in use of the term “cougar,” how come there’s not a corresponding semi-slur for older men who only have an eye for girls born after the Carter presidency? Those guys, the Harrison Fords and George Clooneys and Bruce Willises, they’re described as “silver foxes,” as if they’re strutting about armed with testosterone and aging like a fine glass of Barolo.
Of course, Mape sees it another way. There’s always been a term for those guys.
“They’re called dirty old men,” he says.
Judging from the Sun City-aged crowd swarming around 33-year-old Sarah, who’s nursing a beer at Ocean Club, these guys aren’t in short supply tonight. Not that she’s entirely opposed to the idea of long-term company.
“God, I don’t want to be a cougar,” she says.
Sarah objects to women 20 years her senior made up and dressed to defy time – and failing miserably. These women try too hard for her taste, and to her they reek of desperation. Still, Sarah’s internal clock is ticking more insistently these days.
“I have seven more years to find someone,” she says. “The last thing I want is to be out here someday dressed like I’m 21.”
Barcelona, 11 p.m.
The way 53-year-old Julie tells it, the younger men in her life are like speed bumps: She just keeps running across them, often when she least expects it. Like right after her second divorce, when the nutritionist says she took up with a gentleman 14 years her junior.
It’s an oft-repeated tale by now. The sex was fantastic. Gravity and time hadn’t caught up with him yet, especially when he took his shirt off. The drama was much reduced compared to life with her exes. Plus, he was more into the club scene, and by that Julie doesn’t mean a two wood and a round of 18 at Grayhawk.
“I’m not like a typical 53-year-old, not at all, ” Julie says. “My mindset is completely different. I have a ton of energy. Sometimes the older ones just bore me stiff.”
And what did The Young One enjoy about his time with Julie, according to her?
“I think that younger men are looking for somebody who doesn’t have a whole lot of drama either, who doesn’t have a lot of garbage,” she says. “Younger women have all that insanity in their lives. It’s easier to be with someone who knows what they want.”
Manhattan psychotherapist Rachel Gering agrees, at least with Julie’s last sentence about self-knowledge. As Gering describes the women in question – women she sees more frequently in her practice lately – they’re healthy because “they know who they are and what they want.”
“The only weird, unfortunate thing about it is the word ‘cougar,’” says Gering, who’s written about cougars for Dame, an online magazine. “It makes these women sound like predators, and that’s hardly the truth.… Emotionally, these women are more independent, more confident. They’re less concerned about what society thinks.”
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