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Standing tall in a thigh-baring mini dress with a neckline that exposed her ample cleavage, Melanie Garrett50, stood out from the crowd in the Faz restaurant bar in Danville on a recent weeknight, and not just because of her decollete or her 6-foot frame. Garrett was clad in seductive black - and not leopard-print clothing, the costume of the hour - although she was, admittedly, on the prowl.
The aim, according to society founder Rich Gossewas to help break the age taboos against older women dating younger men. More experienced women have been dubbed "cougars" for their independent, or, some say, predatory ways. Garrett, a divorced entrepreneur accustomed to taking risks, had no trouble with that.
She drove miles each way, from Granite Bay, near Sacramento, to the Danville singles party, in her bid for a date. I love hearing that," she purred, flashing a mane of blond hair and a white smile. Us cougars, we hunt all over. Nick Santoro26, a marketing coordinator for an engineering firm, was roped into attending by his friend Paul Lee30, a university administrator from Oakland. Santoro just happened to be one of the first men Garrett approached. Where do I begin?
Why not? I'm into women, and I thought it would be fun, and it is. I'm probably the youngest guy here. Older women don't build their worlds around younger men, he said, because they have careers, full lives and friends. I think a lot of people in the Bay Area are like me, busy, with hobbies and without a lot of time to go out. Cougars are gorgeous, wonderful creatures - sleek, strong, in control of their environment.
What a wonderful image. What about making it into a positive image? Whether it has been Hollywood's influence, the influence of her book hitting the media or a slow societal shift as women have become more financially successful and independent, women have taken control of their sexuality by leaps and bounds during the seven years since her book came Any ladies cougars prowling tonight, Gibson believes.
Men tossed them aside, called them 'mutton dressed up as lamb,' or 'old and foolish,' " she said. They don't sit by the phone waiting for a man to call. They're not interested in marriage, kids or cohabiting. They're interested in good sex and living their lives the way they want to. They are taking the reins of the relationship, turning it upside down. Gosse, founder of the dating society, which organizes events on six continents and can be found at www. He started his singles society - which has no religious affiliation - at the Unitarian Church in San Rafael in Back then, as now, he said, it was hard to find people to date, and "I had to date older women or not date at all," he said.
We're just trying to make it socially acceptable. The fourth official cougars event will be a Valentine's Ball on Feb. He said he hopes that more young men will realize that older women are mature, comfortable with their personalities and accomplished.
Today, compared with generations, women are more physically fit, and with visits to the dermatologist and hair salon, appear more youthful than their grandmothers did at the same age. The cougars' biggest complaint is that men their age don't have the same energy level. Young guys are not only better looking but have higher energy, too.
There is some disagreement on the definition of a cougar. The Web site Therealcougarwoman. Anita Blake55, a medical sales representative from Pleasanton who was married for 20 years and divorced four years ago, attended the party with friend Sue Sunder, 55, of San Ramon, a radio frequency coordinator for the NFL, who was married for 17 years.
Blake said she dislikes the term "cougar" because of its negative connotations. Nevertheless, she went to the event to get out and meet people, and found herself perched on a chair next to Bob Leisure46, a project manager from San Mateo. He had gone to the bar to watch football after work. Turning to Blake, he said, "You're fun! It's all about having a good time.
Across the room, Eugene Leeung26, a software engineer from Berkeley, who considered himself dressed up in a T-shirt and jeans, said he liked dating older women. When he was 22, he dated someone who was Now, for the big question: Do cougars want relationships?
I wouldn't want to hinder them from experiencing the things I've experienced, or keep them from living life to the fullest. A Valentine's party for single cougars will be held from 7 to 9 p. The event, open to single women of all ages and men who would like to date them, is sponsored by the Society of Single Professionals.
Appetizers will be served during the first hour. Dress to impress. For information, call The Society of Single Professionals is a nonprofit group that says it hosts events on six continents.
In the Bay Area, the society's Web site lists organizations with events for singles to meet and greet. Follow links to "Singles Guide to the Bay Area. For information, go to www. Hollywood often paves the way where trends are concerned, with real life catching up later. People think nothing of Clint Eastwood being 35 years the senior of his wife, Dina, but Susan Sarandonpictured at top, raised eyebrows - and may have been the first cougar to hit the public eye - when she began dating Tim Robbins, 12 years her junior, while filming "Bull Durham" in Madonnamiddle, is 10 years older than her soon-to-be ex-husband, Guy Ritchie, while Demi Mooreabove, is 15 years older than her husband, Ashton Kutcher.
Robinson in the London stage version of "The Graduate" inhad her own short-lived reality show in called "Kept," in which attractive young men lacking in social graces were groomed and competed to win the privilege of attending parties, rock events and family functions with her as her "kept" man. Calling all cougars A Valentine's party for single cougars will be held from 7 to 9 p.
Celebrity cougars Hollywood often paves the way where trends are concerned, with real life catching up later. Top shopping picks.
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