Would You Rather Be
A Dinosaur or a Cougar?

by Kathy Coogan

Would you rather be a dinosaur or a cougar? Stay with me on this. There is a game that’s traveling around our social circle these days called Would You Rather. It’s kind of a baby boomer version of Truth or Dare, the semi-naughty game which has been defanged over time because our secrets are all stupid and our joints are all stiff.

The object of Would You Rather is to choose between two ridiculous preferences and then defend your choice. I’m not sure how the winner is determined. Maybe it’s like Monoply, whoever hangs around the longest past bedtime or boredom wins. In the case of my friends, that’s not long, say 11:00 PM on the weekend and who are we kidding, we’d be home and in our beds by 10:00 on a work night.

I’m not sure why our crowd has taken to playing games at our gatherings. Maybe we’ve just run out of things to say to each other. Or maybe our internal self-editors are still young enough to keep doctor visits and obituary notices out of our conversations leaving us with few interesting topics. Mostly we gossip, I’m ashamed to admit, or we mention tidbits of grandiosity about esteemed grandkids until the only childless couple among us starts to squirm and roll their eyes.

Anyway. “Would you rather be a cougar or a dinosaur?” My turn had come in the middle of my second glass of Merlot, which I had saved for after dinner. We take turns bringing pot luck casseroles relying on luck that the menu will mesh gastronomically.

It’s worked pretty well till tonight. The Chicken Enchilada casserole that Anita contributed didn’t quite go with the Lime Jello and sliced pear and maraschino cherry salad that Marlene brought. But what would? Lime Jello? So passé.

A cougar or a dinosaur? I am savvy enough to know the connotations of these two species. I talked my way through the selection process.

“Okay cougars are women who date younger men, right? That has its ups and downs I would think.” Everybody groaned. “Wait. Get your minds out of the gutter. We’ve all imagined the pluses, right girls? And in some crowds being called a cougar is a compliment. A pathetic one maybe, but still."

I continued, "But Boy-toys might not be able to name all the Beatles and that would be annoying. And double-dating with a skinny cute thirty-something gal, not for me. Even though I have recently lost nine pounds, I can’t imagine myself perched on a bar stool in stillettos and a mini at midnight listening to hip-hop music. So cougar, not so much.”

“But dinosaurs are extinct and I still have a little life in me, right Jim? And dinosaurs are pretty ponderous and I’ve always been pretty light on my feet, especially after losing that eight pounds. And they have little tiny brains, too, right? Well, I graduated at the top of my class. So dinosaurs, no.” I thought a few more minutes then said, “I pass.”

Nobody cared. We’re not very competitive. Fred yawned and that started a conga line of yawns. He’s always the first to go home anyway. It makes Abby so mad. She always thinks she’s going to miss something but we rarely stay more than ten minutes after the yawns begin.

My husband, Jim, grabbed my hand and pulled me up from the couch, winking and saying, “John, Paul, George and Ringo.” God love him. I held onto his elbow as I slipped back into my shoes, new ones that had been killing me all night, not unhappy that I’d never be a cougar and confident that, at least in my husband's eyes that I wasn't a dinosaur yet.

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