The following is Part 2 of Cougar In the Hunt
By way of some mystery guy code, a fresh drink was placed on the table in front of me. Tin-Man and Mr. Man collectively offered to finance another margarita and simultaneously jumped up once they convinced me to accept. When confronted with the initial offer, my response was that I was driving, therefore I could not drink anymore. Mr. Man’s quick response offered a multitude of answers to my dilemma. He would drive me home; he would take me wherever I wanted to go; he would ensure that I made it home safe, and above all I was in his sober and capable hands. Finesse interjected a response to Mr. Man’s heroism by mentioning that we were invited to go to J&P’s for our usual after party. Mr. Man turned her way for the information and then turned his head back in an instant to fixate once again on my face. With soft questioning eyes, he said “If that is where you are going, then that is where I am going. I will go anywhere you are going. No matter where it is, if you will be there, I will be there.”
As Mr. Man made his declarations, including the promise to be my designated driver, Finesse giggled with hysterics at his direct, poignant, and bold pursuit of me. In this moment, she dubbed me a cougar and made wild cat noises while flapping her hand, like a paw, at me. As the tequila portion of my margarita singed my tongue in passing, I felt the soils of the cliff’s edge crumble beneath me, gravity pulling my body further down towards an unknown abyss. Even souzed, one of my closest friends noticed how enamored Mr. Man was, in my presence, clear as day, in the dark desert night. How could I deny this infatuation knocking my equilibrium off its axis?
To regain my balance, I responded by suggesting the four of us head over to J&P’s place in one car. Within the corners of my mind, I reasoned that Finesse and Tin-Man were at least one safety net in addition to all of our other friends. I felt the pulling motion of my entire person swept up into something that I was not given the time or opportunity to fully assess before being carried away by the whirlwind.
For the rest of the show, at least one of Mr. Man’s eyes would be fixed on every portion of my body, as the minutes after midnight became hours. The table the four of us shared was far from the dance floor, yet as Finesse and I were dancing, my body felt the undertow of Mr. Man’s eyes hinged on my every move. Not even the crowd, all around me, distilled his penetrating gaze. This could have caused an unsettling discomfort, in my chest, had it not been so honest and for all intent and purpose harmless. The band played their last songs, as Tin-Man and I finished our drinks clinking our glasses together between swigs.
As Mr. Man and I continued to talk, while I drank, he kept a firm grasp on my every word as if every phrase was a life-preserver. His eyes remained wide, like he was afraid I would disappear or escape if he blinked.
As our conversation continued and his fascination grew, I noticed a deformity in his right hand. Instead of asking if he injured his hand or if the malady is birth defect, I found myself telling him every detail of my hand injury, as if I knew I would be fully understood. Despite how young he was, there was no doubt he related to my limitations and even proved himself an authority.
Camouflaged in his blanket jacket, he had half an arm with half a hand. The temptation to touch it overwhelmed my still hands, though I didn’t, since I did not care to patronize him or make any physical overtures he could interpret as sexual. The truth is, I find deformities fascinating. Anatomical differences, such as his, are like rare art, beautiful and intriguing, something unique, and sacred to behold. I am certain this is why I found him compelling despite his age.
My heart warmed from typical winter frigid to tepid, as I looked into his wide eyes and examined his disfigured body, while trying to be subtle and not seductive. In an effort to cool my warming heart, I continued to force logic and reality, into my mind, regarding his age.
I could feel so many of my firm beliefs erode, like the crumbling cliff below my unsteady and trembling feet. My enjoyment of Mr. Man, his countenance, and our conversation did not irritate me as it should have given that he was only 21. At this stage of my life, I find people in their early 20s, especially male, irritating. He neither annoyed or caused irritation.
As the alcohol seared my already spinning cerebellum, I tried to focus on the fact that he had only recently reached adulthood. In juxtaposition, with this brand new adult, was my adulthood spanning longer than his entire life. If this night had happened only four years earlier, he would not even be able to consent to the desires he was expressing with blunt and candid conviction. Looking at his driver’s license and learning that underage IDs are now vertical instead of horizontal, should have been a jolt more powerful than anything, but he did not take his eyes off me long enough for me to notice.
Blinding myself to the obvious fact that he appeared, dressed, and acted 21 was impossible. At the same time I never tried to justify my attraction to him with any absurd cliques like ‘mature for his age,’ or ‘he and I spiritually the same age.’ I could never live in the sort of denial that would enable me to lie to myself in this manner.
Nonetheless, I was caught off guard; In my world, I don’t enjoy keeping company with anyone younger than 40 other than family. Anyone in my life under 40 is either family, or the offspring of my peers. I could not escape reality; this young man was young enough to be my son. My nephew, the closest person to a son of mine, was only two years younger. I could not imagine bringing any relationship with a 21-year-old to my family.
Even in an inebriated state, there was no denying these facts in my mind. My body, at this point, had no idea what would happen and the eruptive sensations yet to come.
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