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April 22, 2009

Ben Franklin Ruined my Life as a Cougar


Ben Franklin Ruined My Life as a Cougar

By Elaine Viets

Thanks a lot, Ben. I would have enjoyed meeting you, back in 1745. You didn’t have the leading man looks of Thomas Jefferson, but you were smart and funny, and that counts for a lot with me.

But did you have to put your "Advice to a Friend on Choosing a Mistress" in writing? Because I’ve been getting the condensed version since I turned forty, and I’m tired of hearing it.

Ben wrote what should have been the ultimate cougar manifesto when he advised a younger man that an older mistress is a better choice. Older women don’t get pregnant, he said. A decent man is not ruining the life or the reputation of a young, marriageable woman. (That used to be important.) And if a man can overlook a few sags and wrinkles, "the Pleasure of corporal Enjoyment with an old Woman is at least equal, and frequently superior, every Knack being by Practice capable of Improvement."

Bartender, a fresh Cosmo for our Founding Father, who preached safe, rollicking sex without ageism.

All would have been well, if Ben’s words had been left alone. But some wag reduced Ben’s advice to a sign which hangs in hundreds of bars. It says, among other things, that older women "don’t swell, don’t tell, don’t yell and they’re so grateful."

Those are the words that haunt me in my cougar years. Because the kind of younger man who tries to pick me up hasn’t read the essays of Ben Franklin. He’s read the bar sign. And he’s dumb enough to think I’ll be flattered by those words.

During Spring Break, Florida beaches are infested with drunken, hungover college men who see themselves as cougar hunters. Alas, Clive Owen look-alikes are not running loose in Lauderdale. The cougar hunters are more like Opie in Mayberry RFD – young, pale, callow, with muscles in their abs, chests and heads. Visions of beer and double cheeseburgers (paid for by me) are dancing in their sweet, empty heads. They have fantasies of being the next Ashton Kutcher, the man who married the much older, richer Demi Moore.

The Ashton Kutcher Wannabe is as suave as a fraternity beer bust. Here is a sadly typical conversation:

"Can I walk with you, ma’am?"

"No." That refusal would have discouraged most men. But a cougar hunter will endure almost any discomfort for the prospect of free food and beer.

The AKW ignores my wish to walk alone. He says, "I like a woman with experience."

Silence. I brace myself, knowing what’s coming next.

"Ben Franklin had it right, you know, when he wrote that thing," the AKW says.

"You mean, ‘Fart Proudly’?" I ask, sweetly.

The AKW looks scandalized. Cougars aren’t supposed to know about that F-word. AKWs have no sense of humor.

"That’s the popular name for Franklin’s notorious essay, ‘A Letter to a Royal Academy,’ calling for a serious scientific investigation into flatulence," I say.

"No, that other thing he wrote." The AKW looks scared. Good.

"Oh, Ben Franklin’s seven reasons for having an affair with an older woman."

AKW looks a little brighter, which isn’t too difficult. I go in for the kill. "Which some idiot reduced to ‘Don’t tell, don’t yell, don’t swell and they’re so grateful.’ It now hangs in zillions of bars. "

"Uh, yeah. That one."

It is time to end this cruel game and quit toying with the AKW like a cougar with a fresh rabbit. I make sure I’m stationed in front of the lifeguard stand before I deliver the killing blow.

"I’m not interested," I say. "I’m not grateful. Your main advantage is that you are young, and I don’t find young men all that interesting. Find yourself a nice college woman who will appreciate you. Have a good time with someone your own age."

"But – " The AKW is not ready to give up his dream.

"Beat it, kid," I snarl, "or I’ll scream and that lifeguard over there will come running out and call the cops."

The young man lopes alone down the beach. I hope, on behalf of cougars everywhere, that he will hit on a wild bikini his own age.


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"Ben Franklin had it right, you know, when he wrote that thing," the AKW says.
"You mean, ‘Fart Proudly’?"
Too funny! -- I've seen you, Elaine, and I doubt they would be thinking of free cheeseburgers . . .
WAY before I ever heard the term cougar, a student tried flirting as a means to get out of his nearly constant trouble. "C'mon, Miss Garrett (so respectful, you know), wouldn't you like to go out with a younger man?"
"Dear, your FATHER is a younger man . . ." (Turns out his dad was a few months older than me, but it worked better my way ;-)
BTW, I posted a poem on fear of driving very late for yesterday's blog (in case anyone wants to check it out)
Also, I asked very late on the health care blog if anyone has wise thoughts on long-term care policies, 'cause I think with this mortgage to pay, I might want to insure for that particular medical catastrophe . . . (and now that we've had the car discussion, I feel even more sure of it). Aha, there's a reason to seek a younger man -- if he's working a job with good health insurance! (If we try, we can link nearly any topic to any other).

Are any of the wild bikinis on Spring Break on the prowl for whatever they call 46-year-old short, Jewish, balding men? What is the popular term for a guy like that who is involved with young(er) women? I mean, other than "creep?"

Go Elaine! Ben Franklin did many fine things, discovered electricity, bifocals for all of us cougars, helped establish newspapers and printing - without this, where would books be, and generally fought the good fight for a young America. But, Mr. Franklin, must you encourage young men to hit on older women? There is so many other things to recommend. Like use your head - that thing on top on your shoulders you use to prop up your hat (I know what some of you thought), don't disturb other people (women) who'd like to be able to enjoy their time on the beach too, and most importantly - if a woman looks old enough to be your mom - she probably is, would you want your mom to sleep with someone like you --- I mean --- ewwww!

Dot - one of my mother's favorite sayings used to be, "use your head for more than a hat rack." Usually directed toward me.

Wonderful description, Elaine. Goes to show one of the GOOD reasons for going for someone older and wiser than your average bimbo - intelligence and wit.

Elaine, too funny. Personal opinion, any meatball who pulls a stunt like that with a woman of brains, maturity, and class gets what he deserves and he gets no sympathy from me.

Good point, Josh. I have recently learned the young, hot tellers at my bank have a nickname for me. Every time I walk in, they wrinkle their noses and say "Ewwwwww".

I do believe it's a secret code for something really special, but I haven't deciphered it yet. As soon as I do, I'll let you know....

Josh, I would say what they call men based on your description above is "Woody Allen", but I think he was older.

I dunno, Elaine, if a college kid asked to walk with me, I'd assume he was requesting help crossing the street because his seeing eye dog ran off. Maybe I could knock him over and steal his AmEx card.

Uh, I think the phrase is "dirty old man," Josh, but that wouldn't apply to any of the men of TLC.
Nancy, that's the spirit.
It's true what the wise ones say, "Youth is wasted on the young."

Nancy, that one earned an out-loud laugh!

Elaine, it's just a testament to how durn hot you still are. But it must be annoying, like getting catcalled every time one walks by a construction site (do they do that anymore?).

Mary, I saw your poem last night. Charming effort. And as for long-term care, I think the idea is that, instead of turning over your last nickel so the nursing home will keep you, you get to keep your money, but the policy ensures your care, for no matter how long. It would be very good for someone in your particular position (no kids, independent) to have, I suspect. But you should talk to an agent who specializes in it; I never did sell it. And now that you mention it, we should probably have it, also.

AKW? Not here in landlocked Champaign. I'm not sure whether that's a good or bad thing...we're more likely to get the Roger Ebert wannabes :o)
Fart Proudly? Love it!

Classic Blog, Elaine!

I've never seen that bar sign. Good thing too, or I'd be the last one to see it, I think.

Like Maryann, those of us in Pittsburgh have no spring break or AKWs. Besides, if there is a game of any kind on the bar's TV, everyone is safe.

It's this kind of anecdote that make me want to go to Florida. Oh, wait -- I AM going to Florida! See you on the beach, Elaine!

And you too, Nancy. (Nancy, friends, will be in hot pants.)

Tying topics together-
Sarah, I'm glad you made it home safely. My son is 18 and back in Feb we did the College tour thing during (I kid you not) the worse ice storm Ky has had in years- we had to reschedule one college stop because they lost power and had to send everybody home! So we tried back a couple of weeks later, and just skirted a tornado! He made his choice and on todays TO-Do list- send the first of many checks......

So last week I took him to buy some new clothes-something other than ragged jeans and black t-shirts. We hit a fabulous Winter Clearence which had some very nice dressier clothes that he would need-some slacks instead of jeans, some button-down shirts instead of tees. At the end of a long-but successful day, I popped into the Grocery. (teen-age male in the house, I'm allways popping into the grocery.) Along with the groceries I bought a six of Sam Adams. (Does Ben Franklin have a beer named after him? Probably- but not available at Kroger) The cashier was a young college-age guy- asked for I.D. I said "you've got to be kidding me" and he goes off on a spiel "Oh you look so young, you can't be over 21, blah blah blah" My son comes up and says,"Hey Buddy, stop hitting on my mom!"

That was pretty funny.

I will NOT be in hot pants, and it will take too long to explain why. But I will gently remind my blog sister Harley----What happens at RT STAYS at RT!

We will have a full report on the convention next week when we sober up. Good thing Nancie the Gun Tart is there to protect us.

Keeping your light under a bushel, eh, Nancy? Good plan. Keep those college boys at bay. ;-)

How does Demi Moore put up with Ashton Kutcher, by the way? In the dictionary next to the term "callow youth" is his photo, after all.

OMG - Y'all got Nancy to go to RT AGAIN?? Impressive! Y'all got your fairy wings ready? I need to see pictures of all of you with the Mr. Romance contestants.

If younger guys are hittin' on me, I'm missing it! But then, I don't look like Demi Moore, nor do I have the $ she does.

Cyndi, I got some photos last year of some calendar models. There was one former cover model of the year who is now trying his hand at writing, and he was, I kid you not, standing around at his table strumming a guitar; he reminded me of Godunov's character in "The Money Pit." Quote, per IMDB: "I lost her too, but I will get over it because I am shallow and self-centered."

Thanks, Karen. The poem came to mind, driving HWY 70 across the Missouri River to get to class, after reading a news item on Bradbury's driving phobia (lived too close to a California freeway in his impressionable youth). Prof. Schwartz knew that if there were a bad storm, I wouldn't be coming to class, just not worth the risk.
I'm talking to a John Hancock rep for long-term coverage (including in-home care and a cost of living increase) -- recommended by NEA. I had contacted AARP's pick, but didn't like the way the discussion went . . .
I'm big on customer service -- just returned the replacement I bought for my deceased Palm Pilot. I couldn't get any help dealing with a defective recharger cord and figured it would only get worse if I ever had it charged and tried to start on software issues. Sent it back and bought an iPod touch. Tomorrow the Apple gurus will teach me how to use it. Now there are some bright young people working in that store!
"Stop hitting on my mom" -- I love it!

Kelly, I love your son, (but not in a cougar way). It's cute he wanted to protect his mom.

I hate the whole "cougar" thing almost as much as I hate the "MILF" thing. My friends and I were out for my sister's bachelorette party, and we were hitting the local college bars, just for laughs, and twice, TWICE!, 20 somethings were heard to say, "Here come the cougars". Um, we're in our mid-thirties. I laughed at the time, but was really dumbfounded when I thought about it the next day. Call me when I'm 50, boys. Then maybe you'll be appealing.

"Call me when I'm 50, boys. Then maybe you'll be appealing."
I'm thinking, probably not. Maybe it's all those years of teaching, but I can't see those young men as anything else but someone's child, and I don't want the job of raising them . . . .

I find the term "cougar" rather insulting. It brings to mind a sneaky, stalking preditor who eats the young.

I can find better things to do with my time than raise another kid. Call me when you are in your 30s and we might talk.

Funny stuff, Elaine.

Josh & William, even worse than having the young hotties ignore you or go "ewwww" is having them tell you things like "Oh, you're just a sweet old teddy bear" or "You remind me of my dad. He's an old hippie, too"

Can't these young ladies see that I combine the classic good looks of George Clooney with the manliness of Sean Connery?

I don't know, I must be in the minority here. Elaine, forget the sign, I think you should be flattered.

It pisses me off that the other way around is accepted practice. If it wasn't so acceptable, then maybe the last part of the quote wouldn't be so true. (But I'm biased, my ex married a girl 13 years younger than him - someone who was in Middle School when we got married the first time.)

I agree JanetLynn. It is unfair.

It is totally accepted that a man can do it, but if a woman does? She's a cougar.

Just another in a long line of crap.

I wish I could find younger men atrtractive, but in addition to Ben Franklin's advice, I had to cope with three younger brothers. What I see when I look at younger men is unwashed clothes and chores they never bother to do.

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The young knucklehead forgot the First Rule for Cougars: THEY choose YOU. 'Cause they CAN.

It is totally accepted that a man can do it,

In what country is this true? Every time I hear about such a situation it's described with derision at best, and with get-out-the-torches-and-pitchforks rage at worst.

Guess it's time to install the Human Verification Feature, now that the web spiders have found TLC.

Meanwhile, back to topic; to quote Alan Watts, "Even visions of God get boring after a while." He was talking about tripping for enlightenment, but if you don't give a damn about gods, young, bronzed or otherwise, yeah, it must be a drag. Hell is other people and their expectations.

As for myself, I'm approached by young women for only two reasons. It's either, "Mister, do you know how to fix this (in which case I grow eyes out the back of my head)?" or it's, "Mister, would you stand over here? We need some shade."

Soooo....we're back to cougars are we? I heard that term first here at TLC.
I feel ANY attention by menfolk is flattering. An older man in the checkout line behind me helping me put the dog food bag on the scanner could easily ask me out for a cup of coffee and I'd go. He's probably an ax murderer but I wouldn't care. Random acts of kindness from a man are for sure the best pick up tactics. (Pay attention Josh!) All men over age 50 that is. I don't train puppies.
I was just at the River Cities Festival (my Ceasar Dog costume "Heel Ceasar" won BTW and he also won best in show! Okay so I was asked to dress a dog. He won anyways!)
I have a Jagermeister Visor and some "boys" with amazingly white teeth smiles asked me at the dog show if I was a party animal. So why? The visor. Nevermind.
Me on a beach? Hello! I live in Florida. If it doesn't involve something with a little parisol or a lime wedge it's not worth the sand in your shoes. (or whatever other crack that the beach sand seems to always end up getting in like your car mats or your bathroom floor.) All of us have skin cancer anyways.
Kuddos to you Elaine for walking on the beach and putting that young whippersnapper in his youth group!
And Nancy...I recommend hot pink Barbarella hot pants.
Just saying.

Doc in CA - so funny and btw Sean Connery is as hot as George Clooney, so it would be a win-win situation.

I don't train puppies. Heel, Caesar!
Xena, you get the award for best lines of the day IMHO

It's taken me 35 years to partially housebreak Dear Hubby. The young pups can fend for themselves elsewhere, I'm not biting.

Worst moment I ever had, Doc, was one time when I walked into a different bank where they didn't know me. (This was maybe 15 years ago.) The teller asked for my drivers license, and exclaimed, "You look just like Jack Nicholson!" Before I could say a word, she sighed, and said "My grandmother just LOVES him!".

Xena, today's backblogger award goes to you.
Thanks for the laughs.

William - HAHAHAHAHA Jack Nickleson!

Josh - I've been to RT. It's NOT my scene. I've seen all the model's photos. I don't care about them. I just want to see a picture of the TLC gals with Mr. Romance (or at least one of the candidates)

Oooh, William, I'm so sorry. But for the record, you don't look like that saggy old reprobate to me. You're much more handsome than he.

My philosophy of dating is to just fart right away.
-- Jenny McCarthy

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