The libertine’s guide to gallantry: cougar hunting

Bagging a cougar isn’t nearly as difficult or as dangerous as it seems. The term cougar is a misnomer. In the wild, cougars are lethal predators who hunt alone. In contrast, human cougars are the female equivalent to 18-year-old boys: they congregate in small, sexually frustrated groups, lusting after attractive partners that they're not quite sure how to approach.

To understand how to bag a cougar, we must first understand the nature of the beast. There are a few different subspecies of cougars. Some had kids when they were too young and are just now getting to experience the drinking, dancing, and one-night-stands they missed while breast feeding through their early twenties. Others are divorced women newly released into the wild. You also have your somewhat rare

, independent cougar who never settled down because her standards were too high, her career got in the way, or she was in a string of unsuccessful relationships. Others are married—some happily and some not. All dress ten years younger than they're age and hit the club scene hungry for something. Many are sexually frustrated. Others are just more in tune with their sexual needs. Be warned. All cougars have baggage. You can’t make it past thirty without collecting a few skeletons. But, often their life experience makes them a little more jaded, numb, or mature—whatever you want to call it—-which often means they won't get clingy after a one-night-stand.

Cougars are not at their physical primes like their early twenties rivals, but they have the advantage of realizing this. All cougars react to this change differently. The psychological shift is akin to child celebrities growing up and realizing they’ll never be as popular as they were when they were ten. Imagine growing up as an attractive female. You’re treated like a princess for no apparent reason. People feed you compliments, hold doors, offer you free drinks. Of course beauty also attracts the stray whistles from construction crews and aggressive assholes, but all of this attention leads many young women to believe that they are inherently special. When their looks fade, they wake up to an indifferent and cold world. All women react differently to this change. Some get married, have kids, and slide comfortably into mom-jeans and one-piece bathing suits. Others, cougars, hit the gym, get plastic surgery, wear more revealing clothes, or are more sexually aggressive than their younger rivals.

It’s been suggested that women hit their sexual peak in their mid-thirties, but there is little research to support a hormonal shift that would cause this. More likely, women simply become more comfortable with their sexuality. They know what they want and are not shy about it. Also, casual sex may not come as easily as it used to. They start to want what they suddenly can’t have. Some may realize they aren’t getting any younger and that if they want to have a romantic trysts, it's now or never. Also, as cougars' male counterparts becoming less sexually appealing, these women increasingly turn their gazes to younger men at the peak of their physical prime. Stop by any male strip club and you will experience this phenomenon. The packs of cougars are the ones making the most noise, trying to claw off the dancers' thongs.

Now that we've identified the cougar, here are some tips for tracking, luring, and bagging a cougar.

Where to hunt and how to identify your target: Cougars may look for a potential husband online, but this isn't where they go to find a boy-toy. For a one-night-stand, cougars revert to their old prowling grounds: bars and clubs. Cougars congregate in packs. Some are married and on a girls ' night out. More often cougars’ singlehood is what unites them. All of their former friends have to stay home with their families.

Cougars congregate in places where they can blend seamlessly in with younger crowds. Don’t bother going to 18 and up dance clubs. These places only remind them of their age. Possibly the most fertile hunting grounds are tourist bars or lounge-type settings that feature wine and appetizers with foreign names.

I recently engaged in a solo expedition to Shephard’s on Clearwater beach. It was a cougar Mecca. Within five minutes of arriving another hunter told me of an earlier sighting of the bay area's preeminent cougar, Linda Hogan. A tourist bar is an optimal place for several reasons. Clusters of women who go on business or ladies' trips congregate there, wanting to cut loose for the weekend. These tourists also have hotels within walking distance and fantasies of a hot vacation romance that will make all their girlfriends back home jealous.

The approach: Cougars never had to learn how to hunt when they were younger, or they have been domesticated for so long that they don’t remember how. When they were young, they didn’t have to approach men. This is why you’ll often find them clustered on the edge of the dance floor getting hammered at a table. Often, to engage a cougar all you have to do is spark a conversation and you’re in.

At Shephard’s I successfully integrated myself into two cougar dens by simply opening conversations. The first was a large table of business people in town for a convention. The men and women were clustered on different ends of the table. The cougars were trying to take a photo of their group with an extended hand. I simply offered to take the photo for them. I then prolonged my stay, building a playful and comfortable rapport by teasing the target cougar about how she kept blinking or making a weird face during the pictures. Her photo-defect required more pictures, more time, and more flirting. When I handed back the camera I was in. The group was glowing with sunburns and margaritas. Before you approach, it's important to wait until their first round of drinks has soaked in and they've stripped out of their day-time personas. Suddenly I was circled, being chatted up by all of them and made to react to overtly sexual comments—-much like a young female getting caught talking to a group of young men. However, you'll find it much easier to sustain a conversation with a group of buzzed cougars than their younger counterparts. They have more life experience and can speak on a variety of subjects. Also, unlike young women, they don't view you as a threat.

Don’t trigger their kill instinct: While cougars may appear friendly, never forget that they can murder you. Don’t trigger this instinct. In order to keep them in a playful state you must choose your words wisely. Here are a few guidelines.

-Don’t reference their age: The last thing a cougar wants is to be reminded of her age. Sure she may mention that she’s old enough to be your mother, but just shrug this off and say you're older than you look. It’s the same as a girlfriend asking you if she looks fat. Lie. Say you’re not interested in her age. You’re not there to marry her; you just came over because you wanted to talk about her inability to take a picture. Avoid any topic that reminds her of the divide between you. Put her on your level.

-Don't reference her kids or husband: She will more than likely have one or both. If she doesn’t mention these, there’s a reason. By reminding her of these elements of her life, you destroy the fun of her pretending that she's a teenager again. Now she has to be responsible. If she wanted to be a mom or a wife at that moment she wouldn’t have her glitter speckled boobs on display at a night club.

-Don't ask about her occupation:  Again, this reminds her of her daytime life. Also, this will cause her to ask what you do, which will have one of two consequences. 1). She’ll have a high powered position that eclipses whatever you do, reminding her that she’s out of your league. 2). You’ll both have similar career roles, or you’ll be higher on the career ladder than her—in either case she’ll feel depressed that you've accomplished what she has in less time.

-Don't use 1st date questions: Boring people are conventional and ask where someone is from, what they do, and how often they come here, as if these things really told you anything about a person's personality. You can learn more by asking what they were teased about as kid. Ask who their guilty celebrity crush is? Guess. Make positive predictions about the kind of person they are. I told the target that she seemed like the kind of woman who had her shit together, but also knew how to drink her male colleges under the table when it was time to party.

Treat her exactly like a female friend who you wouldn’t mind having sex with at the end of the night. Be her friend first. Show her you’re on her level. Be playful and fun. Make fun of the young girls dressed in what looks like toddler t-shirts. Nothing unites a group like defining an out-group—-a common other. Don’t be desperate. Have the attitude that she’s the one who has to work for your attention. Say goodbye and walk away. Give her attraction for you time to ruminate.

Here's an example of the kind of vibe you're going for: At Shephard's the target introduced herself as Kitty. I asked if this was her exotic dancer name. This backhanded compliment accomplished two things 1). Demonstrated that I thought she was attractive 2). Showed that I wasn't afraid to make a joke at her expense. Confident people are not afraid of offending others. If the woman does get mad, you must have the resolve to stay and tell her to chill out, or to walk away. Never back-down from a backhanded complement. But, don't be an asshole and say something truly offensive, like making fun of her weight if she isn't rail thin. In response to my question, Kitty said that it was the name I would be saying in the morning. I’m not used to this kind of blatant flirting straightaway. It was a test. I tried to remain calm and throw it back at her. I asked what name she wanted to call me. Her response: Tiger. At this point she spontaneously announced to her girlfriends how attractive I was, then kissed my cheek. Her friends followed suit then insisted on taking a series of pictures with Kitty and Tiger.

Getting to this stage is the hardest part of bagging a cougar. From here, it's a numbers game. You won't get lucky with everyone. You have to play the odds. Leave this group to find others. Make your rounds, returning to each and feeling out which ones you're connecting with most. Remember, you'll never bag a cougar if you're ill prepared and you don't hit the field.

Check out other entries of The Libertine's Guide to Gallantry: fucking in the friend zonethe unattractive delusion, why penis size matters, finding your type, the group pick-up, and selective self control.

Follow Alfie on Twitter, Facebook, or at shawnalff.com

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