Last year. It’s my first time in New York City. A taxi brings me from JFK to my hotel. Traffic already dense in the morning mist. Sightseeing buses making early stops at every corner of the street, with vehicle-long advertisements on the side:
C o u g a r T o w n. T h e S e x y N e w C o m e d y O n A B C.
Home. I was home.
I was in the city where the word Cougar went without explanation: A woman dating a man at least 7 years younger than she is.
For my 30+? birthday, a considerate friend gave me a book: Cougar. A guide for older women dating younger men by Valerie Gibson. I had just met Benjamin. He was young, bright, sunny, and open to new things in general, and new women in particular.
“You can come up if you like,” Benjamin one day invited me to his apartment. “My girlfriend is not home.” I declined through grinding teeth. A wise choice, as I later learned from Valerie Gibson’s book. Aside from the obvious fact that coming up with a man who is taken is not a smart thing to do, I also made the classic beginners mistake: I was in love with Benjamin and he knew it.
No matter what source you consult, from modern day Cougar guides to the ancient Greeks, they all stress the same thing: when it comes to dating young men, never let them know you love them. Or at least not before you “humble them and draw their sails,” as Socrates so eloquently put it. Winning the heart of a below 25, is a bit like house training a dog: it requires patience, discipline, and strategic timing.
No wonder I sucked at it.
At the sight of Benjamin my knees turned to Jell-o, my eyes forgot to blink, and the stutter of my mouth resembled the words ThankYouLord. If there was anyone severely humbled it was me. And I would testify to these emotions in the present tense, instead of the past tense, but Benjamin doesn’t like that I am still thinking about him. Pretending to be over him is the only favor he still accepts.
So with me flunking my Cougar exam, and several unsuccessful re-examinations later, what should a cougar behave like? Courtney Cox plays a fresh divorcee, who strategically keeps her heart out of the equation when dealing with her toy boy Josh.
C o u g a r T o w n. I e d e r e d i n s d a g 2 1.0 0 o p N E T 5.
Socrates would have been proud of her.
Cougar Town starts, Tuesday March 23 th, 21.05 at Net 5 (Netherlands)
Dutch American Diary, the story of Benjamin LS Harteveld is on this site. Available for free for a limited time.