Cougar in the Hunt Part 8: Here’s To You Mrs. Robinson
Continuation of Cougar in the Hunt Part 7: Sun to Moon
The decision to invite Mr. Man to my house to see the Graduate with me, a film made decades before the “cougar” euphemism, was an affectionate way of warning him about sexual involvement with an older woman. My intentions and his responses to this activity were nothing like I expected. The process of sharing this entertainment media revealed many things about the person Mr. Man is and the circumstances of his childhood. It became crystal clear as we watched “the Graduate” that they way he grew up was nothing like my childhood. He was not able to relate personally to the LA upper class suburban lifestyle parodied and made surreal in this film where as it had always been relatable to my paradigm. In the midst of these differences being revealed, I observed how quick and unafraid he was to ask questions and seek explanations for societal norms before his birth or outside the experiences of his short life. This humility inspired an increasing respect for him and admiration for his courage. He was revealing his tremendous potential which complicated my clean, detached, and objective approach to this pending affair.
His willingness to learn and not appear more experienced than his age was a pleasant surprise. As I layed in the presence of such humility and courage, I didn’t mind stopping to explain words and concepts and give mini and micro-sociological history lessons. The significant women’s history lesson, pertinent to the film, was describing the sad position women lived by when the Graduate was produced and released. He gave me a puzzled look when I explained the phenomena; I was born into, known as the Mrs. Degree where women went to college to find husbands, not to earn degrees. My father worked hard at ensuring that my sister’s and I earned a college education. Our father constantly lectured us to avoid marrying too young and to first earn a college degree, procure our own income and security before seeking marriage. I realized, as we watched the pathetic unhappy Mrs. Robinson, how much this movie was a composite of all my father’s efforts that I was also exposed to frequently growing up, in my formative years, and into my young adulthood. Since Mr. Man was so so open to learning things outside of his reality, I made sure that he caught all the subtle nuances of the film not just the fictitious Mrs. Robinson’s character being representative of women going to college to find a husband, but also being forced to get married due to unplanned pregnancy. All events to follow this afternoon and evening, a tiny grain of sand in time, we shared would implode in a literary irony that even my long life was not prepared to endure.
Growing up watching The Graduate in multiple sittings, the main character was relatable to how I grew up and I had always taken this for granted. Mr. Man had a hard time understanding the suburban upper class post college homecoming. I had learned that Mr. Man had grown up under different circumstances with a single mother and upon his mother’s remarriage became a Marine brat. He told me in one of our earlier text conversations that his father died when he was very young, so he never knew him and his mother remained single until she married a Marine when he was 13, which is how he ended up in this area. I found out within the first 10 minutes of
meeting him that he had no further scholastic intentions and had made up his mind to seek a working class blue-collar high paying industrial type profession. Everyone I had ever known who chose this path spent the fair level of income on cheap bulk liquor, cigarettes and drugs. This will likely be his fate, but since he is only 21 the impact has not spoiled him yet.
As the movie played, and the plot progressed, I continued to explain the class and generations of the characters as they had been explained to me watching the graduate with family from the time I was a little girl to the formative years and into adulthood. At one point, I was worried that he might be bored, so I checked with him and his response surprised me. He actually said “I am really into this movie” In that moment I was impressed and felt warm towards him, but I had no idea that the source of his peaked interest in this film would end up leaving me the blinded fool, left out in the biting cold without a parka.
I was baffled as I had half expected our interaction to be awkward and that like Mrs. Robinson and Benjamin Braddock, we would end up having nothing to talk about or say to each other. I could not believe that I was relating to him far beyond my expectations and this only increased my desire and anticipation. We remained side by side, watching the movie, as he continued to keep his hands to himself. There were no subtle manipulative schemes to get closer to me physically. Mr. Man stay, the same guy with bold words of lustful desire for me, stayed put.
Out of the corner of my eye I looked at the side of his body angled away from me from the head down. On the bean bag chair the two of us made a triangle with our heads and the tip. When I blinked, my body felt the full sensation of his near presence, I could smell him, I was hearing and breath that touched my skin while circling through my body with every shift of his body or subtle movement.
His whole hand was on the same side, I was, as it happened, and I found myself reaching over and placing each finger in between each of his and as we moved our palms together, I rested my forearm on his and my elbow rested inside the bend of his arm. He shifted slightly and everything fit into place like a puzzle. Periodically, he stroked my hand, back and forth with his thumb.
My weak, injured hand was wrapped in his that was not deformed, yet I was not hurt by his grip as so often a man’s hand grip would unintentionally hurt me. With one eye I continued to watch the film and with the other I stared at his bronze skin either from the sun or a small percentage of a culture with a darker brown skin or both. He did not reek of nicotine as I had expected and his sweat was intoxicating to breathe.
Mr. Man had not recognized the very young Dustin Hoffman in his first movie. It was the Dustin Hoffman before I was born, so for him the gap in years was wide. There was a commentary after the movie ended where Dustin Hoffman with longer hair and a few grey hairs speaking at which point Mr. Man did recognize him.
I turned the TV off with my toes and naturally found myself placing my head on his chest and nestling myself into his willing arms. His heartbeat pulsated through my right temple so strong that I it reverberated through my head and ears while also feeling his hand stroking my hair and neck. I thought about how his “normal” hand, the one not deformed by birth defect, must have the power of two hands from a lifetime of compensation. Several times I reached over to touch and stroke his deformed hand, working my fingers through every crevice, each finger not fully developed, the small birth defected palm with the sprout like fingers frozen in his time of early childhood jutting out the end of his half palm. His tiny fingers subtly grasp my fingers as they moved about exploring the entire oddity of this hand, not like any other hand on any other person, a beautiful shaped in all its deformity. I could even feel the lines on his palm, not fully developed, cut short by finger sprouts nearly as thick as the fingers of a grown man, but soft, short, and delicate like a toddler. With every movement of my fingers grazing his tiny fingers, my heart became warmer, as his heart pounded into my right temple faster and harder, while his other full hand crept down from my neck into my back and waist.
His fingers slipped under my shirt and traveled across my waist. I became aware of the firm, elastic of my leggings wrapped around my waist, as his fingers butted against the edge like a refuge fighting the border, desperate to navigate a way past the barred entry and enter. It reminded me of all the times in my high school years when boys, full of determination, would run their hand across the elastic of my bra trying to find the hook, which was always up front in my control. I am sure he knew how to get past the waistband; perhaps he wanted to sneak his hand in without being obvious.
The sun was setting in the outside world, bringing back the luminous quality of our respective physical features. If Mr. Man had not been there with my head on his chest and his fingers stroking the skin under my shirt, I may have been outside gazing at the moon and the wonder of the desert’s endless night sky.
The power of the night sky could be felt from inside and the luminous quality the moon coated the darkness illuminating the two of us in an intense embrace of pre-coital anticipation.
“This is nice…” He said with a tone that was relaxed, but also eager, as I continued to stroke his chest with one hand and unbutton my shirt with the other.
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