cougar (and the French word for "boy toy")
Wednesday, August 08, 2012
Watch out, you middle-aged skirt chasers—here come les couguars! (Note: I didn't see any cougars to photograph on the island of Ré; I hope this cat will do! Also, enjoy these white umbrella flowers, which covered the island, competing with all those hollyhocks.)
un coug(o)uar (koo-gar)
Le mot couguar désigne une femme, généralement de plus de 40 ans (la génération de trentenaires qui précède la cougar est plutôt appelée "puma"), qui cherche ou fréquente des hommes plus jeunes, typiquement ayant au moins quatre ans de moins qu'elles. Ces hommes sont généralement appelés des toy boys ou des lionceaux. --definition from Wikipedia
The word cougar designates a woman, generally over 40 (the generation of 30-year-olds who precede cougars are called "pumas"), who looks for or hangs out with younger men, typically at least four years younger than herself. These men are generally referred to as "toy boys" or lionceaux.
Audio File (Note: waiting for my LION to return from his errands in time to record today's definition... ) Update: the sound files are ready, listen here: Download MP3 file or listen to Wav file
A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse
Our second day on l'île de Ré we rode our vélos from the beach to the farmers' market. I parked my rental bike in front of the tourist office, waved goodbye to Jean-Marc, and set out to discover the busy marché, with its fishmonger, its beachwear vendor, its olive merchant, and its obese man selling figure-slimming cookware. Step right up, Madame! Check out this pan!
The pots and pans salesman wasn't the only curious sight, there was that aspirin-white American woman with the two giant watermarks on her shirt... My bathing suit had soaked through! Thankfully, I was unaware of the state of my chemise, and could suffer the embarrassment later, upon checking my appearance in the mirror back at our rental.
As I checked myself in la glace, scrutinizing every detail of my person, I remembered the remark my husband had made after we met up outside l'office de tourisme. Unlocking our bikes for the ride home, Jean-Marc teased me:
"Ça va le maraîcher?" he snickered.
The produce guy? So my husband had seen me lingering at the vegetable stand... chatting with that young man!
The embarrassment bubbling up from within soon showed itself on my face, which reddened visibly despite a precautionary thick white mask of sunblock.
I laughed it off. After all, that student selling onions and cantaloupes was only a few years older than our son, Max! What did my husband think I was—a cougar?
Of all people! The truth is, while my barely-clad French contemporaries were busy watching Sex and The City (around the time we were reaching our 40s), I was poring over Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, fearful my sinful nature would betray me at any moment! The word "cougar" never even entered my lexicon until my friend Diana shared the term with me, over an evening barbecue in which our middle-aged husbands smoked cigars and helped themselves to seconds from the dessert tray.
Facing the mirror, searching my face, with its crows feet and cicatrices, I couldn't help but think how ridiculous my husband's insinuation was, that an out-of-shape, 44-year-old femme mariée had been flirting with a charming student!
(Did I say charmant?)
To be continued... (Click here for the 2nd half of this story)
Note, the underlined (or highlighted) words within the article contain links to archived stories, including the story in which Jean-Marc is caring, for the first time, for his very own vines. Don't miss "Surrogate Mother" (La Mère Porteuse) here.
le vélo = bicycle
le marché = (farmers') market
la chemise = shirt
l'office de tourisme = tourist office
Ça va le maraîcher? = How's the produce guy doing?
une femme mariée = a married woman
Fun French expression: in the story, I referred to my skin tone as aspirin white. I borrowed the expression from the French, who use the following idiom: blanc comme un cachet d'aspirine (as white as an aspirin pill)
If you're new to this journal—welcome! That's me, Kristin, on the left and this is the 10th year that I have written this blog. One of the rewards of writing is meeting readers. Kris (right) joined us for one of our last tastings of the season. She eventually traveled back to Brittany after being stuck in Tulette one week no thanks to car problems. Kris tells me the Domaine Rouge-Bleu wine she and her husband bought helped them through this extended visit!
Correct Your French Blunders: How to Avoid 99% of the Common Mistakes Made by Learners of French. Speak and write French as if it were your native tongue! Order here.
Spotted another cougar on the way back from the beach.... There's Jean-Marc heading to the market.
Holding up the hollyhocks. Islanders take such good care of their emblematic flower. One woman told me that a hollyhock, or rose trémière's, lifespan is two years. Lucky for us, each season they drop hundreds of graines, reseeding themselves.
A Message from Kristi: Ongoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal week after week. If you find value in this website and would like to keep it going strong, I kindly ask for your support by making a donation today. Thank you very much for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.
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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety
Kristin... What's the French word for young men prowling for older, attractive women?
Posted by: john h abeles md | Wednesday, August 08, 2012 at 01:27 PM
These pictures are soft, lovely and full of light, just like you.
Other than that statement, I am usually "off my rocker" so therefore I choose "B" - this story probably has nothing to do with your surprise.
Posted by: Karen Whitcome - Towson, Md USA | Wednesday, August 08, 2012 at 01:30 PM
Aren't your "umbrella flowers" Queen Anne's Lace??
I enjoy your blog and especially your photos!
Posted by: jl keith | Wednesday, August 08, 2012 at 01:40 PM
Great expectations! There is nothing like young love. Who we choose to love is so important. We need to guard our hearts or protect them. When you do meet that special someone then wear your heart on your sleeve.
Posted by: gail bingenheimer | Wednesday, August 08, 2012 at 01:42 PM
"typiquement ayant au moins quatre ans de moins qu'elles"!? No cougar worthy of the name would date a boy less than ten years younger than herself!
How appropriate that the French term for "boy toy" is "toy boy" — those whacky French, always putting the modifier after the noun!
What the heck is figure-slimming cookware? How can a frying pan help you lose weight?
And Kristin? You do know we can see the pictures you post of yourself, right? If you think you're out of shape, you need to take another long session in front of that mirror.
Posted by: Bruce in northwest Connecticut | Wednesday, August 08, 2012 at 02:05 PM
Kristin, what a delightful blog post! I don't think that any woman who has any life left in her is EVER to old to enjoy the conversation and company (and who knows, maybe more!) with a charming and much younger man!
Posted by: Wendy | Wednesday, August 08, 2012 at 02:18 PM
Crows feet, cicatrices, 44 (as old as that). We all want to appear attractive to the opposite (or the same) sex, it doesn't go away, even at my great age I do my best.
It my be that Jean-Marc felt a touch of jealousy, and who could blame him.
Posted by: Mike Hardcastle | Wednesday, August 08, 2012 at 02:20 PM
Kristin, your photos on this blog are extraordinary! Beautifully composed and so pleasing to look at - thanks! Oh, I do love the hollyhocks around the French countryside...
Posted by: herronali | Wednesday, August 08, 2012 at 02:24 PM
are you following the Olympics? What do you notice about reaction of your French friends ? How much are they interested? Is there a particular rivalry? Are your son and daughter following the games and athletes on twitter?
Posted by: Judith Harris | Wednesday, August 08, 2012 at 02:26 PM
Love the story and the photos. I just recently planted some Hollyhocks to attract more butterflies and hummingbirds. I remember becoming so flustered in Avignon when I was shopping with a friend and we went into a store where the shop keeper was a young, good looking man in his early 30's maybe late 20's and I was probably 40 then. I wanted to buy a Santon and the one I wanted was the "la boulangére". I was so caught off guard by how cute this man was that all I could get out of my mouth was...la femme avec le pain.
Posted by: Eileen - Charlottesville, VA | Wednesday, August 08, 2012 at 02:43 PM
"Toy boy" or "Boy toy"?
Posted by: Barbara | Wednesday, August 08, 2012 at 02:58 PM
I vote that the surprise is connected to the Isle de Re.
Also, many hollyhocks live for years and years(as well as reseeding). Like foxgloves. They don't always read the memo about being biennials.
Lovely post today.
Posted by: Martine NYC | Wednesday, August 08, 2012 at 03:14 PM
Loved your posting today (and always)! Based on your reference to the term "surrogate" I think you are going to adopt a child. Eagerly awaiting the surprise.
Posted by: Ginger Rose | Wednesday, August 08, 2012 at 03:25 PM
Kristen, Altogether, this is a totally charming account of a day on your vacation in Isle de Re. A great way to start my day reading about France, and another area to visit on a future trip! You are accomplished at communicating the nuances of your life that make it come alive in print!
Posted by: Annette Moore | Wednesday, August 08, 2012 at 03:30 PM
HI Kristen, you are hysterical and as for being an out of shape 44 year old, I think you look dam pretty good.
Posted by: Janina | Wednesday, August 08, 2012 at 03:33 PM
Whether you do it with a camera or with words, you always manage to give us a delightful snapshot of French life. I enjoyed this one very much, as usual. To reduce future editing efforts (for your next story collection) I would suggest using "sight" vs. "site" and "poring" vs. "pouring".
Please pass on my congratulations to Jean-Marc for his latest wine ratings--very impressive and well deserved!
Posted by: Charles Orr at Flat Rock, NC | Wednesday, August 08, 2012 at 03:50 PM
Since you asked, I love Arbonne's sun protection line. Formulated in Switzerland, the ingredients are pure. When you put it on, you can see the beautiful white screen spreading over your skin which gradually absorbs, moisturizes and protects from UVA and UVB for 40 minutes. Also the best lip balm with spf 30.
Posted by: Debra Karimzad | Wednesday, August 08, 2012 at 04:25 PM
.. always love hearing of your adventures.. on vacances or at home! I also suspect that a child may be coming into your lives as well.... and what a fortunate being that would be... sucha a loving family to embrace him or her.... Best wishes, Judi Dunn, Tallahassee
Posted by: judi dunn | Wednesday, August 08, 2012 at 04:33 PM
I'm pretty sure you mean "boy toy" (the object of the cougar's attentions). But will have to wait till the next installment to find out.
Posted by: Janet | Wednesday, August 08, 2012 at 05:33 PM
To follow up on the other comments above, the expression I have heard is "boy toy". Anyway, very fun and amusing post today! No, I don't think this has anything to do with your secret.
My guess about your secret? You mentioned Angelina Jolie a while back, so maybe you and Jean-Marc are tending to the vines on their vast estate and bottling the Brangelina wine!!
Posted by: Julie S. from San Diego | Wednesday, August 08, 2012 at 05:49 PM
I have hollyhocks here too growing in AZ! They normally burn up by now....but I have some still going strong, even though they are small.
No idea about your "secret" but I am intrigued. Am also counting the days until I leave for France!! Whoo Hoo!!!
Posted by: Gaelle (Gail) | Wednesday, August 08, 2012 at 06:14 PM
Totally charming... it is good to feel alive, isn't it?
Posted by: Angélique Droessaert | Wednesday, August 08, 2012 at 06:27 PM
Enjoyed your photo of the hollyhocks....to think that they have grown so tall and beautiful in the cracks between cobblestones and stucco, no rich soil and mulch required. My hat is off to them!
Maybe the family secret that we are all trying to guess is an exchange student who will be arriving in late August or even that Braise is going to have puppies! Bonne soirée....
Posted by: Cynthia Lewis in Salisbury, Eastern Shore of Maryland | Wednesday, August 08, 2012 at 07:03 PM
A very funny and enjoyable post today, Kristin. Wish I had been with you at the marche to see the pan salesman.
Posted by: Suzanne, Monroe Twp., NJ | Wednesday, August 08, 2012 at 07:20 PM
Now I wonder if there was another clue. Are you expecting a boy (canine, human, natural birth, adopted?). Or was I right a few weeks ago when I said Angeline Jolie was going to visit? - total cougar!
Posted by: Karen Whitcome - Towson, Md USA | Wednesday, August 08, 2012 at 07:21 PM
Kristin, I'm not sure if it's France that you make so enticing or just your joie de vivre but whichever (or maybe it's both), I want to be there! And, I am seriously envious of Gaelle 'counting the days' before she leaves for France! Lucky woman! I'm still hoping for next year. Meanwhile, Kristin,I'll continue to live a slice of the good life through your wonderful posts (and patiently await the big news )
Posted by: Judi Miller, Lake Balboa, CA | Wednesday, August 08, 2012 at 07:31 PM
Kristin, you are definitely beautiful enough to be a cougar! But with Jean Marc as a husband, why bother! We're in Flagstaff for the summer, where the hollyhocks also are blooming!
Posted by: Judy Feldman | Wednesday, August 08, 2012 at 08:53 PM
Hi dear Kristin,
Such beautiful pictures!
And! Another wonderful post (as always!) that brought smiles to my face and laughter to my heart.
You've once again given us example and inspiration-- if we can't find some humor in ourselves, life is, well, just awfully dull.
Posted by: Natalia | Wednesday, August 08, 2012 at 09:04 PM
Not correction time for this yet, but THIS did hit me:"The pots and pans salesman wasn't the only curious site..." I think you mean "sight"?
Love your writing and your photos! Stop belittling yourself: you are a natural beauty and will be in all your subsequent decades!!!
Posted by: Maureen | Wednesday, August 08, 2012 at 09:10 PM
First, you are lovely. Second, I do believe Jean Marc was a wee tad jealous. Absolutely. Third, I have been reading your blog for four years and living vicariously in Provence ever since and am happy to say that I will be visiting the area next year! Yay! Am so glad you have weathered your bout with skin cancer so well--I kept you in my prayers .I am thrilled to know that you too nurture a spiritual self, which only adds to your complete loveliness. Thanks for a fun read, always.Jackie
Posted by: Jacqueline Gill | Wednesday, August 08, 2012 at 09:16 PM
I'm dying to know your secret!! Are you adopting a baby? Are you perhaps expecting one yourself? (I had TWINS at almost 41....) You certainly aren't showing yet if that is the case!
I love the hollyhocks--mine never do that well--jealous of the islanders!
And please stop saying how "out of shape" you are or I will have to send you a photo of someone truly out of shape (me).
Posted by: ann ceraldi | Wednesday, August 08, 2012 at 10:14 PM
Queen Anne’s Lace grows wild as weeds here. I love to add it to bouquets. Funny, a mere 17 years ago it was part of my wild flower wedding bouquets; that’s when I learned of it. Now, to see it growing far from my home.
Aren’t hollyhocks so charming? Just as lovely and charming as you! Blessings on a sunny, hot August afternoon in Applegate!
Posted by: Stacy ~ Sweet Life Farm ~ Applegate, Oregon | Wednesday, August 08, 2012 at 10:30 PM
The entry in French wikipedia for le cougar is funny! Complete with a list of modern cougars. Much better than the one in English wikipedia that it cites. We ordinary mortals need not worry about it too much, it is for the celebrities.
"Ce phénomène serait marginal, les couples restant traditionnels sur une différence d'âge réduite : une enquête de l'université de Cardiff auprès de 22 000 femmes de 14 pays révèle que les cougars appartiennent essentiellement au monde du show business."
Seems cougar is spelled couguar en français. They take the English spelling for this social phenomenon.
Much fun, this post. Excellent photos.
Posted by: Sarah LaBelle near Chicago | Wednesday, August 08, 2012 at 11:08 PM
"Pouring" over Matthew, Mark, Luke and John? As in 'raining' over them? Believe you meant 'poring' over them as in 'reading' them. So many people use the wrong spelling when this verb is being written but we love you anyway and look forward to each and every episode of your French-way of life. Keep 'em coming! We love you no matter what!
Posted by: Phil Anderson | Thursday, August 09, 2012 at 03:05 AM
Today's photo is delightful...it looks like a collaged artwork!
My daughter has been within a whisker of you over the past couple of days as she has travelled form Nice to Marseilles! Lucky girl!
Posted by: Gretel | Thursday, August 09, 2012 at 05:55 AM
Without the "s" that is! ;-)
Posted by: Gretel | Thursday, August 09, 2012 at 05:57 AM
KRISTIN I am 69 yrs old and adore creative intelligent independently minded women, such as Lara Fabian, Carla Bruni, Alysee 26, Charlotte Ardizzone -69 (a painter lives in Midi-Pyren'ees)the older Brigitte Bardot" 80+, Catherine Deneuve 69Jardine Libaire 39(author and Bartender). That is my strength or ny weakness. I see Your photos and read Your blogs and must add You to the list! I am an even older man that loves cougars. You are still beautiful inside and out! Part of the French life is healthy living with lots of exercise. hard work, and excellent food (and wine of course) You exemplify the healthy French Woman. You are not getting old, just better!
Life begins at 40 - enjoy it fully. The age of men You are attracted to doesn't matter. Feelings of love and attraction are not infidelity. They are natural.
So how do You call a really old man who loves women of all ages. Polymorphous Perverse?? No - because the kind of Love I feel is free and not at all binding' it is not lustful but aesthetic. So it is ok on that level to be attracted to younger or older men (or women). Jean-Marc is very lucky to have found You . You are a jewel! Please don'tforget this! -Or let him forget it either. Hope this is not too personal!
Posted by: Gary Rodan | Thursday, August 09, 2012 at 04:00 PM
If the secret involves Angelina Jolie, I'd guess you are either adopting a child or making a film that involves your vineyard or blog?
Posted by: Kaaren | Thursday, August 09, 2012 at 04:10 PM
Thanks for taking me to France with your lively observations and wonderfully composed pictures.
Posted by: Gabriela | Friday, August 10, 2012 at 01:05 PM
Four years? My goodness we still ARE gender discriminatory. I was surprised to learn that one of my (male) coworkers had been divorced, and even more surprised to learn that he had been advised by the other women in the office that HE could expect to date women who were as young as half his age plus plus seven...He's 57....I think. Who cares the age anyway? It is what is in common...and it sounded as though chemistry might have been the only thing.
Posted by: cindy | Friday, August 10, 2012 at 03:32 PM
Don't forget Mrs.Robinson. Flirting is fun and can be very innocent and it can make you feel good.
Kristin, you are still very young and beautiful and any man would love to flirt with you and any women would love to flirt with Jean-Marc.
Posted by: Kathleen from Connecticut | Friday, August 10, 2012 at 10:17 PM
Hope things will work out fine
Like your hubby's good ol' wine!
Posted by: Thomas | Saturday, August 11, 2012 at 04:15 PM
I just read this today 12/31/12 and missed your announcement at the end of the month (hadn't started reading "you" yet!) Also, missed the continuation . . . How can I get filled in?
Posted by: Molly | Monday, December 31, 2012 at 01:55 PM
Nice picture.. I hope you are well. Pin-Up
Posted by: hairextension | Saturday, February 01, 2014 at 06:49 PM
i need the info. for the cougar in french because i have this project and stuff!!! plz help
Posted by: sarah | Thursday, May 29, 2014 at 02:17 AM