Do people complain to Rich Gosse about the use of the term "cougar" -- previously applied to a 1970s-era muscle car and, of course, a beast -- for older women with a yen for younger men? Yes. Yes they do. All the time. But he doesn't care.
"We used to have cougar parties in San Francisco before the term 'cougar' was invented," says Gosse, proprietor of the non-profit (!) Society for Single Professionals, which he runs out of his San Rafael home. "We called them 'Younger Men Older Women Parties.' No one knew we were alive. Now we do 'Cougar Parties' and we're famous. I love
the term cougar."
Indeed, Rich Gosse is a cougar impresario. Readers may recall his "National Cougar Convention" held down the road in Palo Alto
's summary: "More cleavage than a butcher shop run by Eldridge Cleaver"). Now, searching for a new wrinkle in the "older women-younger men" mileu, he's struck on a novel concept: The nation's initial Cougar Sadie Hawkins Dance, set for San Francisco on Nov. 14
Uhhh, Rich? Will twentysomething men who don't understand the meaning of the term "don't touch that dial" or even "shake it like a Polaroid picture" really comprehend a 70-year-old Lil' Abner reference? "They will have no idea," he concurs.
Perhaps this is how Gosse's organization manages to credit itself as an "educational institution." In short, at a Sadie Hawkins dance, the women choose the men and not vice-versa, just like an aggressive female character in Al Capp's Depression-era hillbilly comic strip.
The organizer hopes at least 100 people will show -- and also pines for that golden ratio of cougars to cubs between 50-50 and 60-40. Depending upon whom you ask, this may not have quite come to pass at the Palo Alto cougar spectacular. Gosse admits that cubs were turned away by the litter-ful and some young men were even "crawling through the bushes to get in" (with all due respect, it was Palo Alto. Stanford students celebrate their 21st birthdays at Denny's there. We've been invited.).
By the way, Sadie Hawkins was known by the sobriquet "The homeliest gal in the hills"
-- though we think she probably beats out most of the competition in the flats, too. But Gosse is not worried about sending a mixed message. He promises "a lotta cougars, lotta cubs."
When it comes to cougar events, if you bill it, they will come.