Alone on the pier with fishermen and kissing couples, a trainee cougar prowls the beach…

I went to a party tonight. The guy was turning I don’t know. 25, 26, maybe.

surf boards with flags

South Africa... I hate empty nationalism, but the sight of that surf board with our flag on if made me long for Muizenberg Beach, as I stood in the dark at Huntington Beach, feeling lost.

I thought “You know what yes, I have work to do, but I’m sure I could do a lot more if I felt less – and I’m just going to say it – kinda sick of hanging out by myself”. I thought I’d just go. Sure, I’m older than most of the other students, though my life circumstances are more similar to theirs than to most people my own age. But I’m sure they’ll like me if they get to spend some time with me, and realise that it doesn’t have to freak them out. For an overweight, aging nation they seem pretty set on the ideals of youth and beauty when it comes to what they admire. Both my screenwriting teachers – one of whom is an obviously attractive guy in his mid-40s (guessing here) and one of whom is a comedian type of around 63 (again, guessing) – have made pretty nasty “Cougar” comments. The younger one just seemed to be using the word experimentally, because it’s currency right now. But the oldest one described a relationship between a 30-year-old woman and a 25-year-old guy as “venturing into cougar territory.” I wonder how old his wife is. I have an ex whose relationships ALL end when the woman’s about 27-29 years old, and start when she’s younger. They ALL think it won’t work this way with them. But at this age, they ALL find themselves breaking up with him. And taking the blame, too. He keeps getting older, but not more mature, so he can’t bear it when his girlfriends grow up. What’s the word for guys like him? If they had their way, women would be like race-horses. When they stopped winning the money, or injured their leg, you’d just shoot them. Put them out of their misery. Actually, I think that is how it works in parts of Iraq and Afganistan.

I went to the loo for a while. I can’t afford to be so sensitive. He’s a good teacher otherwise, and I’m determined to pick no fights. I tell myself in the toilet: He’s playing to the 22-26-year old crowd, and it’s not like I can’t see how pathetic and needy that is really. “I get your jokes… haw haw.” Sure you don’t. Your favourite movie is “What’s up, Doc?”, Grandpa. And then I feel better.

HB is for Huntington Beach.

But I am sure none of this ridiculous shit applies to me. I may not be young at heart, but I never have been. Only stupid people are, right? I’m secretly convinced that anyone could come to eventually realise that even if they’d met me when I was 10, I would still have been kinda awkward, cynical, opinionated and unable to accept that I couldn’t change the world – all at once. Then really like me.

So I went to a party tonight. I drove the wrong way, and GPS Lady got lost (for some reason, The Beach” isn’t listed) but I persevered and found Huntington beach. After parking, I went looking for the right bonfire. 45 minutes I walked. 45 minutes back. No sign of my party. And of all the people I passed, I was the only person who was alone. I tried to act like I didn’t mind everyone wondering why.

Back in my car, I sat for a while with my head on the steering wheel, overcome by a physical craving. It’s a feeling my friend Lili calls “vel dors” – a thirst for touch. And I remembered a truth I’ve sometimes tried to deny: You can’t buy love. I don’t mean sex. I mean the touch of someone who cares, who would need to help you when you were hurting, because making you feel better is making them feel better. And who could just as easily say to you when you needed them, “Not tonight, sorry” without hurting your feelings – because you only want what they want to give and you trust them to tell you the truth. My friend and sex columnist Dorothyblack wrote about this on her blog, A Case of Nerves. I couldn’t find the link, though.

It takes time to make friends. I know this. But tonight I was impatient and I was lonely, and I wanted to be lost looking for a party with someone, not on my own among the couples, the people fishing, the groups of friends around fires, the people playing vollyball in the dark, the yuppies clustering around the bar all smug and snug in their lives, like I once was myself.

The teenagers get drunk illegally around beach bonfires (just like in The O.C.), the healthy types play vollyball until 10am, leaving tourists, romantic couples, fishermen and... me... to prowl the boardwalks.

I walked along the pier, just so I could say I did it, and back again. And I wrote this whole blog post so I’d have someone to tell. It’s true what they say about lonely people and social media, you know.

"Fish or cut bait" - yep thanks, because I was thinking of making a sandwich. Perhaps Arnie just put this there to stop Lindsey Lohan chopping lines on it. Who knows.

*Cougar: my favourite definition from Urban Dictionary

A woman in her sexual prime who prefers to hunt rather than be hunted. A cougar’s victims are usually under 25, as cougars prefer to mate with men who still have hair. Cougars generally feed and then continue hunting, as they enjoy role reversal.
For a variety of other definitions ranging from insulting to overly post-feminist, click here.

Of course, nobody, male or female, is as simple as that. We are complicated and delicate and powerful machines of chemicals so mysterious we invented gods. Or discovered God. It really depends.

3 Responses to “Alone on the pier with fishermen and kissing couples, a trainee cougar prowls the beach…”

  1. Lili Says:

    Ag Jeanie. I wish I could give you a proper hug. As someone who loves you. We think about you and miss you very much.

  2. jeanbarker Says:

    Than you.

  3. Rose Says:

    Have you SEEN Courtney Cox in Cougar Town? It’s a shite TV show I know, but there’s nothing shite about being called a Cougar. Have a hug x 10.

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