"This guy back there... this guy..."
One of the other women tells her to slow down, to breathe.
"This guy what?"
"This guy back there... he called me a... a... c-c-cougar!"
There's a Kate inside me that's 50% good samaritan and 50% bitch and that particular Kate thinks, at that particular moment, Dude. You're wearing tight white pants and black gladiator stilettos and a low-cut beaded top and you look, you know, KINDA HORNY.
Thankfully, Polite Kate has control over my mouth 75% of the time and Polite Kate says, "How old are you?"
She shakes her head vigorously and sways from the recoil of it. Someone else asks her the same question. She shakes her head again, this time with her hand over her mouth.
"I'll bet you twenty thousand bucks I'm older than you." I think I am.
"No way." A splash of rum and coke lands on my foot.
"I am. And if I'm not a cougar, neither are you and that's because I look kinda, you know, most days, LESS HORNY."
"There's no way you're older than me."
"Am so." I hope I am.
"Are not. I'm a cougar."
"Oh come on. How old are you?"
"34." She might have said bank robber or arms dealer or chronic farter for the look on her face.
"I'm 37 on Tuesday." I might have said Here take this backhoe full of $100 bills or Any man who calls a woman a cougar only makes a statement about himself or My name is Willy Wonka and I am here to save you from yourself for the look on her face.
Inside my head it looks like this.
Sometimes it's pea-soup fog and I can't see for shit. Or sleet rain. But it's there, and it's never been there before. Autonomy. This knowing that if I want something, I may as well take it or make it or at least try.
I am not afraid anymore. Today is Tuesday.*
*and there may be stilettos.