Categories
Student Life

The power of love overcomes distance

One student’s experience and advice for being in a long-distance relationship

I have been in a long-distance relationship for the past year, and believe me when I say, I am happier than ever.

It all started two summers ago, when I went to visit my family in Beirut, Lebanon. I promised myself one thing as I arrived at the Rafic Hariri airport: no summer crush whatsoever. I was determined not to give in to the first handsome, charming Lebanese guy I met. For a little while, I stuck to my promise and enjoyed the sun, food and time with my family.

Two weeks later, I realized the promise I had made to myself was a hoax, and maybe love is just one of those things a person has no control over. That summer in Beirut taught me that love happens when you least expect it and in the most unpredictable ways.

I was sitting in a coffee shop with my cousin, casually sipping a vanilla-hazelnut latte, when a six-foot-tall guy, seemingly in his early 20s, walked over to our table. Slightly tanned, fit and sporting a beard, he asked if he could sit with us in the most polite, gentle manner.

After speaking with him for less than 10 minutes, it was obvious to me that he possessed the three traits I admire most in a man: he was courageous, down to earth and kind.

In that moment, I knew I had to give him a chance and overcome my long-distance relationship fears. The traits I saw in him, as simple as they may seem, are the hardest qualities to find in a man my age.

So here I am today, in a healthy long-distance relationship with a trustworthy man who never fails to put a smile on my face. I don’t see him often, and when I do, saying goodbye feels like a stab to the heart—but with effort and commitment, we make it work.

For anyone currently facing the challenges of a long-distance relationship, here are some tips my boyfriend and I use to overcome the difficulties of living in different time zones.

We send each other a text message every two hours

If we are not in class, writing an exam or sleeping, we send each other a text every two hours. No matter how short or unromantic the message, it doesn’t matter — What matters is that we are thinking about each other.

We communicate

We listen to each other. Whether he’s interested or not, when I call my boyfriend after a long day to talk about my assignments, he still listens carefully and shares his thoughts and opinions. This is something I admire. We always make an effort to show interest in the other person’s day, no matter how small or insignificant the details are.

We send pictures of everything

Whether it’s a picture of my lunch or a selfie while he’s brushing his teeth, visuals are the closest thing we have to reality. We use them until we run out of storage.

We pay attention to small details

A long-distance relationship needs to be handled with much more attention to detail than a normal one. Although I truly do trust him, all it takes is one misleading video on Snapchat to get me asking questions. When I’m not around him, questions and assumptions seem to naturally bubble up. I believe that’s just part of the long-distance package. To minimize this, we do not forget to charge our phones and check in. We always try to be as clear and straightforward with one another as possible.

We make sure our visits are as long as possible

We are both students on tight budgets, so needless to say, we can’t afford an overseas plane ticket every month. For that reason, we stay as long as possible when we visit each other. It gives us more time to make up for all the date nights and outings we missed during the year.

We are optimistic

Don’t compare yourself to other couples. Don’t count the days until the next time you meet, because the more you dwell on it, the longer it will seem. Most importantly, don’t lose hope. Love from both ends of the rope isn’t something you find everyday. So if you and your partner share that love, even when you’re miles apart, cherish it.

– Anonymous

 

Graphic by Alexa Hawksworth

Categories
Arts

You must Whip it!

“By day, the girls are waitresses, nurses and teachers. By night, they give the crowd what they want.”
So says Jimmy Fallon, as the announcer at the Austin, Texas Roller Derby, the event at the heart of Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut, Whip It.
Bliss (Ellen Paige) lives in small town Texas, with her pageant-centric mother, her cute as pie sister and her father who wishes he had spawned boys who play sports. Bliss is a wallflower, working at the local burger place (the OinkJoint) with her outspoken best friend Pash (Alia Shawkat) and begrudgingly participating in pageants for her mother.
That is, until she discovers the Hurl Scouts.
A tough group of chicks, the Hurl Scouts compete in the sport of roller derby, which involves speed skating, body checking and a kick-ass attitude. Bliss joins the team after seeing them play and earns the name Babe Ruthless (every member gets her own nickname).
Although the plot has been done to death, Whip It seems fresh thanks to a vivacious group of actors and director, Barrymore.
The cast, including Barrymore (who played the wild Smashley Simpson), was rounded out by many fine supporting actors, none better than Kristen Wiig (Hurl Scouts leader Maggie Mayhem) and Marcia Gay Harden as Bliss’ mother. Wiig, known best for her work on Saturday Night Live, can wield a monotone one-liner like no other, while Harden masterfully anchors the heartfelt emotional mother-daughter moments of the film.
The Concordian was able to speak with some of the cast of Whip It by video conference, from California. Barrymore said she works differently than most directors and is able to extract the best work from her actors that way. “I love to keep the camera rolling,” she said. “I think you can get three very different line readings if you do them three different times in a row rather than cutting between each take.”
As an experienced actress, Barrymore was able to control scenes while also letting them flow naturally. “I think it’s about just getting out there and being in a sort of boxing match with your actors, and trusting them, and inspiring each other,” she said.
Shawkat, who played the best friend Pash, said that Barrymore was one of the better directors she’s worked with. “She is very patient, I trusted her,” she said. “She’s very pretty . . . I like that.”
Barrymore, however, did not allow herself to be the pretty character in her own film. In fact the opposite occurred, as she was constantly the derby member who would get hurt. From elbows to the face to a broken neck Barrymore played every punch for laughs, resulting in comedic gold.
Whip It may be generic in format, but it is a rambunctious ride through adolescence and a little known sport accompanied by a stellar soundtrack.

Categories
News

Educating the heart: The power of compassion

The Dalai Lama sat in the lotus position on a couch, slowly cleaning his yellow-tinted glasses as members of the press looked on. Thirty minutes later, Tibet’s spiritual and political leader faced an audience of 15,000, sitting in the same position, as he spoke about compassion, religion and procrastination.
Proving that even he has faults, the Dalai Lama admitted that he sometimes procrastinates when translating ancient texts. He told the crowd he always says he will do it “tomorrow, tomorrow,tomorrow,” until the last minute.
Though he admits it’s a bad habit, he advised others, especially students, against procrastinating. Even if young adults do put off important work, the Dalai Lama said he remains hopeful about the future, praising today’s youth for protesting wars and standing up for peace. Actions like these demonstrate that people have compassion and an ability to forgive, he said, forecasting that this can be “the century of peace.”
Tenzin Lobsang Wangkhang, who has been accompanying the Dalai Lama on his tour, said the Dalai Lama was eager to have as many students as possible attend his event in order to teach them “about the powers of compassion.”
Compassion, the spiritual leader said, is what will help the world achieve a status of peace.
Alluding to religious conflicts in the world and possible solutions, the Dalai Lama disagreed with the notion of having one world religion. “I think one religion for six billion human beings is the same thing as six billion human beings eating only one dish,” he said, laughing along with his audience. “People will eventually get fed up.”
The Dalai Lama made a point, though, of saying he does not hold all the answers, and is not a god-like being, despite what some may think.
He backed up his assertion with a story about gall bladder surgery he had last year. His need for surgery, and the complications he suffered during the operation “scientifically proves the Dalai Lama has no healing power,” he joked.
He admitted he was able to heal quickly, but credited that to his mental compassion, saying too much anger, hatred, and fear eat away at the body. A more compassionate mind, he said, makes for a healthier body and immune system.

Categories
Opinions

Horoscopes

This is animal week.
Aries – March 21 to April 20

You are Orca, noble guardian of the waves. You are not widely loved in the animal kingdom, but you are feared and respected. You deliver swift and objective justice with your powerful jaws and your keen senses. Although you have a large decorative eye patch, your eyes are in fact quite small.

Taurus – April 21 to May 21

You are Penguin. Winter is long and hard for you. It is a long trip into a cold dark country. And when you’re done, you’ll get to return to the ocean, with abundant food and endless fun. But the oceans are not always safe, so be careful. For now, look forward to the season ahead. You and the others will huddle together for warmth, and there’s no better feeling than being at centre of a waddle of penguins.

Gemini – May 22 to June 21

You are Seal. Scourge of the sea, you live your life between the water and the shore. You dive deep and swim with the fish, but you are not of them. You prey on helpless penguin, and nature frowns on you for it, but Orca hunts you, and plays with your body before eating you. Be wary.

Cancer – June 22 to July 23

You are Dog, loyal companion, friend of man. But man takes more than he gives: in his eyes you are servile. Sit dog, lie down dog, roll over dog. He leaves you locked in his house alone for hours on end, and puts bonds around your neck. He takes your children and sells them for profit, with cold knives he takes your gender from you.

Leo – July 24 to August 23

You are Cat. Sly, sneaky trickster. Beast of nine lives. You blend into backgrounds, you observe without interfering. You hunt stealthily, and always make time for leisure. You love your milk, you love your tuna. Remember what they say of your curious nature, and remember that you have nine lives.

Virgo – August 24 to September 23

You are Goldfish. What happened three seconds ago? You probably don’t remember. Let me fill you in: your last three seconds were exactly like the three seconds before. You were in a glass bowl of water, with rocks on the bottom. Sometimes flakes of food fall in from above, something to do. And you’ll live out your days like this. What happened three seconds ago?

Libra – September 24 to October 23

You are Cow. Eat some grass, digest it, regurgitate it, eat it again, do it three more times. Mmm, cud. Udders been feeling heavy lately? Maybe it’s time for a milking. I know a lot of cows use those mechanical milkers these day, but there’s nothing quite like an old fashioned hand milking. Mmm, milk.

Scorpio – October 24 to November 23

You are Pig. Is there anything you won’t eat? Rumour has it you’ll even chew through bone. You are highly esteemed among the gentiles, but the chosen people will not partake of you, because, though you be cloven hooved, thou chewest not the cud.

Sagittarius – November 24 to December 21

You are Chicken. Awake early, always orderly, minding the coop. Rooster, your biological companion, wakes up the farmer every morning, heralding in each new day. Be good to rooster, as he has been good to you. If your friends are having trouble laying eggs, give them some of yours, like in Chicken Run.

Capricorn – December 22 to January 20

You are Lion. Mighty king of beasts, you rule the plains as Orca rules the seas. Your dominion is based on your ability to seem great, while in fact being quite average. You don’t even hunt, but make your women do it for you. Don’t let the others figure out your scam, they won’t appreciate having been tricked.

Aquarius – January 21 to February 19

You are Tiger. Fearsome and fierce, stealthy but scarce. Are your stripes functional, or just fashionable, either way they look pretty damn cool. Pounce on some prey this week, something badass from a tree and like do the neck biting thing I saw on that nature video.

Pisces – February 20 to March 20

You are Bear. Hibernation season is coming up and we all know what that means – hyperphagia time! That’s right, time to bulk up, eat anything and everything, enjoy yourself. Don’t worry about eating too much food, because you’ll be sleeping for a few months, so you’ll lose all the weight. Try and get some honey before sleepytime too, you do love that honey.

Categories
News

New credit card regulations are not enough

The federal government passed a bill Wednesday introducing new credit card regulations. Credit card companies will now be forced to provide basic account and rate information on credit card statements, allow a mandatory 21-day grace period before interest is charged, and notify customers before raising their credit limit. Other regulations include a provision that forces credit card companies to inform consumers how long it would take to pay off their balance by making the minimum payment each month. The new regulations will go into effect in two stages, in January and September 2010.
The bill has come under fire from opposition parties and some consumer advocacy groups, who argue the regulations do not go far enough. The Canadian Community Reinvestment Coalition in May called the proposed regulations “too little, too late,” and the NDP called for tighter controls on credit card interest hikes.
Auob Muntasar, VP External for the Concordia Student Union, gave mixed a reaction to the bill. “I think the new measures do reflect that the government is paying attention. These regulations are long due,” he said. “But the fact that the government hasn’t taken any action in capping interest rates is ridiculous.”
Dan Otchere, an economics professor at Concordia who specializes in credit cards, said capping interest rates would be a bad idea. “If credit card companies were to lower the interest rates, people would abuse it,” he said. “Because people have difficulty paying all their balance, they go onto the instalment plan. And that is the danger for every credit card user, once you do that the debt mounts, without you knowing it.”
Banks, the main issuer of credit cards in Canada, have also criticized the bill because they say it will cost millions of dollars and be difficult to implement. Chisholm Pothier, a spokesperson for the Minister of Finance, denied this, saying that banks were properly consulted and have been given ample time to prepare.
“There was a consultation period. They participated in that, and we took their input on it. Obviously we think this is doable or we wouldn’t be doing it.”

Categories
Arts

Putting Contestants On The Spot

Jon Verral found his comedic calling in a Craigslist ad.
The Concordia theatre graduate was looking to get involved in improv when he found the On The Spot improv troupe, who are currently looking for a new member.
Started in 1990, On The Spot has made a name for itself in Montreal’s improv scene. They’ve also toured the world, winning improv tournaments on three different continents. The troupe has eight dedicated members, two of whom are Concordia students.
In order to pick the right performer to add to the troupe, they put candidates through a challenging and nerve-racking audition: a series of a series of non-stop improvisations in front of an audience. Ultimately, it is the audience and the troupe’s votes that decide who moves on in the competition and makes it to the the final round on Oct. 27.
The competition began Sept. 29 at Comedy Works.
The contestants names were not used, instead they were numbered as if they were in a spelling bee. “They are all conveniently numbered to feel dehumanized,” On The Spot member Terrance Bowman joked.
Verral doesn’t see the show as a competition. “You’re really competing with yourself because we all have to work together in the improv,” he said.
Every skit performed in the show has interaction with the audience.
In the first skit, entitled DIE!, participants are expected to mime a motion or an action and continuously come up with a different way of conveying the motion or action. Each time the participant says what he/she is doing, the line “try that on for size” must be added. If a participant choked or said something that wasn’t entertaining, the crowd would yell DIE! and another participant would take the stage.
Paula Davis, a member of On The Spot for two years, began by asking the audience to name an instrument. Flute was yelled out. Angie, number two, started off by mocking the motion of playing with a flute and said “I’m playing a flute, try that on for size.” Nicky, number one, continued the motion of playing the flute, but changed her action. Nicky said “I’m playing with Andre the Giant’s balls, try that on for size.” The crowd burst into laughter. Angie didn’t think of a comeback fast enough and the crowd yelled DIE!, forcing Angie off the stage and replacing her with Verral, number four.
Davis found the next topic by asking the crowd what they do during their free time, besides masturbating. Hallucinate was yelled out, and so continued the DIE! skit. Both Verral and Nicky acted as if they were spaced out, by shaking and twitching. After a battle of witty comments, Verral won by saying ” I’m being Stevie Wonder on a really high piano, try that on for size.”
In one particular skit, Davis asked the audience to name some favourite movie lines, like the Lord of the Rings classic “You shall not pass,” and she wrote them on a paper. During the skit, the participants talked to each other and every so often, bent down to pick up a paper and then incorporated the movie quote into their sentence. There were four winners that night including Verral and Nicky. The winners will be competing in the final round on Oct. 27.
The On The Spot improv competition continues every Tuesday night until Oct. 27 at The Comedy Works.

For more info check out: www.onthespotimprov.ca

Categories
Sports

Stingers shine at shrine bowl

There is now a glimmer of hope in the Stingers’ final push for a playoff spot as Gerry McGrath’s men ran away with the win against the Sherbrooke Vert et Or at home during the annual Shrine Bowl game on Saturday.
Leading the way was offensive player of the game Liam Mahoney, who had 13 receptions and scored two touchdowns, and cornerback Nathan Taylor, who dominated with eight solo tackles and was awarded best defensive player honors. Although Sherbrooke did manage to rally after a slow start, Concordia succesfully closed out the game with a score of 34-22.
With the zero finally removed from the victory column, the Stingers can now breathe a quick sigh of relief as their losing skid is now a thing of the past.
“This victory feels amazing. We were 0-4 and we came out and did everything right. The whole team did its job and that’s why we won”, said Taylor.
To say the Stingers did their job is an understatement. The team came onto the field with both energy and desperation- you could see from the bench that this was a team thirsty for a win.
The first half went especially well for the Stingers. While Concordia’s defense kept things tight on its end by putting tremendous pressure on Sherbrooke quarterback Jean-Philippe Shoiry, the team’s offence, managed to get on the board early when Mahoney ran a ten yard pass from Rob Mackay to score his first touchdown of the day. Sherbrooke continued to struggle on their drives and went absolutely nowhere on the turf, paving the way for momentum-building on the Stingers side. With the seconds dying out during the first quarter, Shoiry was sacked by defensive end Devon Mitchell, resulting in a Sherbrooke fumble near their 20 yard line. The Stingers were quick to recover, and Cory Watson scored a touchdown on the drive’s first and only play.
Mahoney continued his stellar play during the second quarter as the wide receiver ran a whopping 82 yards to score his final touchdown of the game. However, the Vert et Or offence was starting to show signs of life by that time. With minutes left in the first half, Concordia’s defense failed to take notice of Pascal Fils, who despite being Sherbrooke’s best player, was wide open. Fils had but eight yards to run in order to finally put his team on the board. Still, there was no reason to panic just yet since the Stingers entered the second half with a 16 point lead.
The game quickly became a nail-biter for both Concordia and Sherbrooke fans as the Vert et Or took little time to get back on the board. Wide receiver Alex Poirier added to his team’s quick comeback, narrowing the Stingers lead. Once again, Poirier was wide open, and Concordia’s defense was once again looking rusty. Add two field goals on each side and two Sherbrooke safeties (both intentional), and the Stingers had themselves another close game.
Thankfully, the Stingers picked up the pace in time after losing some momentum throughout the second half. After moving into Sherbrooke territory following an 81 yard drive, running back Cedric Ferdinand scored a touchdown on his only reception of the game. The Vert et Or attempted to complete the rally during the final minutes of the game, but it was too little too late. The Stingers won their first game of the season and at the same time avenged their loss to Sherbrooke just weeks ago.
The Stingers were all smiles when they received the Shrine Bowl after the game, but the rest of the season is sure to be a long and trying one. The team is entering a bye-week going into the Thanksgiving holiday, after which they will hit the long road to Nova Scotia.
Nathan Taylor believes the break will be a good thing for his team.
“We really need to rest. We have some injuries we need to tend to, and we have some time to relax and just enjoy the victory. When we come back, we’ll be stronger than ever.”
The Stingers will face the University of Acadia Axemen in Nova Scotia on Oct. 17.

Categories
Student Life

From stationary to soap:

Shoppers crowded into St. Michel Church Hall in the Plateau this weekend to browse the large selection of handmade merchandise being sold at the Puces POP Marketplace.
A division of the POP Montreal Festival, the Marketplace gives up-and-coming artists such as fashion designers, jewellers, toy makers, knitters, bakers and countless others, the chance to sell their goodies. Everything from handcrafted bags and pine-cone earrings, to cupcakes and soaps could be found at the many booths set up along the walls and in the centre of the hall.
Lee Meszaros, 25 has been hand sewing and painting merit badges with slogans such as “dirt bag” and “sweet as pie” for over a year, and decided to participate in the Marketplace to broaden her clientele.
“Its great, it’s really busy and people are really nice,” said Meszaros. The artist is quick to point out that creating merit badges is her career, and not just a hobby, so an opportunity like this is fantastic. Her badges are in the $24-$40 price range.
Another first-time vendor was Nicole Armour, 36 who was looking to use the Marketplace to get the word out about her hand-bound books. Armour does all the binding and sewing by hand using standard book cloth and high quality paper. Her books cost between $25 to $35, and she makes notebooks, sketchbooks, songbooks, and books specifically for guitar melodies. Although she has been binding for a while, she just started selling her work, and said although “there is lots of interest, books are hard to sell.”
The event even drew people from outside the province. David Lacalamita, 22 and his friend Millie Roy, also 22, came from Toronto to check out the festival. Both said it’s genuine and grassroots, unlike similar festivals held in Toronto.
All in all, vendors seemed to be having a good time meeting fellow artists and presenting their work to interested shoppers.

Categories
News

Getting to know Rawi Hage

Speaking at Concordia, award-wining author and alumnus Rawi Hage was honoured, particularly by the Lebanese in the audience, for his work about the 1970s Lebanese civil war.
Hage, appearing comfortable and casual with his arm slung over the back of his chair, answered questions and accepted praise about his life and writing.
Fellow members of the Lebanese community expressed their congratulations and deep thanks, showing the profound impact his work has had on them as well as on their shared cultural history.
Hage was grateful for their compliments, joking that the only other Lebanese to congratulate him before that night was his mother.
The author spent part of the evening describing the experience of writing his first novel, De Niro’s Game. The book focuses on civil-war-ravaged Lebanon, something Hage experienced first-hand.
“I don’t recall the state of mind I was in. It was all so fast, a blur,” he said. “It must have been some kind of emotional reaction or blockage. But since writing the book, I think less about the civil war, so it must have done something good.”
Cockroach is his latest work, and is set in Montreal where he now lives.
Hage earned his B.A, not in creative writing, but in photography at Concordia.
He was pointed in explaining his disassociation from the creative writing program. “I don’t come from creative writing,” he said when asked why he does not use quotation marks. “I don’t think quotes are necessary. It’s not experimental. It’s just laziness.” When host Peter Webb mentioned that creative writing students were in the audience, Hage dropped his head and said, “Oh no.” Laughter erupted when he then put on his glasses to scan the audience, saying in an almost sinister tone, “Oh yes, I can see them.”
Hage is presently at work on his next novel, the details of which he did not reveal.

Categories
Arts

Fly on the wall

If you’ve ever wanted to be a fly on the wall in someone else’s home and discover all their dark secrets, then Nervous Hunter’s new play, Domestik is a voyeuristic must-see. That is, if you’re willing to stand up for two hours. The performance consists of four unrelated episodes enacted simultaneously in different rooms of a small apartment.
Instead of sitting the audience down in front of a stage, director Sophie Gee chooses to let them wander and walk in and out of pieces whenever they choose. The performances in each room play in loop, so the audience has a chance to see every segment.
The only direction the audience is given is not to open any closed doors. The role of the audience is essentially that of a voyeur, spying on the characters and eavesdropping on their intimate conversations. From its evocative set design, to the excellent casting, and the role of the audience, Domestik certainly stands out from traditional theatre.
Sabrina Miller’s production design was impeccable, every detail was well thought out. The apartment is adorned with FedEx envelopes addressed to 7240 Clark randomly thrown around, also art magazines, old books, board games, and a piano. There are big mirrors in every room, suggesting the split personalities, secrets, and complicated relationships that are present in Domestik. The house is filled with objects that represent the characters in some way, such as a diary laying open on a desk .
The first character the audience is literally greeted by is a passionate new wave fan, Wes (Christopher Charles Cavener). He provides most of the comic relief in an otherwise serious play. For instance, Wes’ only friend is a talking mouse. Wes is trying to audition members for his band, Uberzone, and invites members of the audience to try out for a spot. This marks the only time when the audience is directly involved and allowed to participate with an actor.
Another character in the house Lavet (Jacqueline van de Geer), a lonely woman whose only passion in life is making pies. She listens to what sounds like a communist manifesto on the radio and talks to herself while she cooks. “Your hands are your best tools,” says the radio receiver. Geer is ingenious in her self-absorption. Her character is the one who remains unresolved, unknown, and mysterious, for the entire play.
In another room are Stephen (Carlo Mestroni) and Lauraine (Shannon Topinka), whose quickly blossoming romance ends as suddenly as it begins. Emotionally charged, Mestroni and Topinka deliver pure romance and heartbreak all in a 20 minute emotional rollercoaster.
There is also a love triangle occurring in the house between Ina (Karine Lefebvre), Malcolm (Chimwemwe Miller), and Geneva (Leigh Ann Taylor). These three characters take the audience through the house. From a bit of chicanery between Lefebvre and Miller in the hallway, to a sleepwalking Ina almost attacking Geneva with a knife, the audience is left tiptoeing after characters as they move from one room to another. This episode keeps the audience in utter awe.
Domestik is a unique theatrical performance which involves the audience as much as the actors. Although the audience follows and watches in silence throughout the piece, it is difficult not to feel like part of the action. It is a guilty pleasure to see all the emotional outbursts of the characters, read their intimate journals and sit on their couch. Each story begins on a positive note and ends in bitterness, but is thoroughly entertaining nonetheles. Wear comfortable shoes, it is worth the stand.

Domestik plays at Eastern Bloc, 7240 Clark Oct. 1-4, 8-11
Doors: 8 p.m.
Tickets: $15/$12 students

Categories
Sports

Lady Stingers bring home first win

The Concordia women’s soccer team won their first game of the season shutting out the Université du Québec

Categories
Student Life

Watch out boys, she’ll chew you up:

Four half-naked hunks are drilling a hole outside a high school, when one of them stops and says: “It’s 2:30.”
“School’s out,” adds another construction worker. Two attractive female students in uniform walk out giggling and shaking their hair, but the workers don’t so much as glance at them. Then the teacher appears. Slowly, she removes her jacket and glasses and unties her hair. The four young men are in complete awe. One even wipes his forehead with his sandwich. Turning to them, she smiles and says: “boys, boys, it’s easy to date a woman like me.” The website cougarlife.com flashes before our eyes and the commercial is over.
The “teacher” is 38 year-old Claudia Opdenkelder, founder of the advertised online dating site specifically designed for older women, “cougars” looking to date younger men, or “cubs” as they’re known on the site. Winning a radio cougar contest in 2005 was the catalyst that drove Opdenkelder to launch the Toronto based site this past Valentine’s Day. She credits her website’s instant success to the fact it’s unlike the other, more escort-oriented cougar sites, and it simplifies the dating process by being age specific. But could it also be because more middle-aged women are starting to have relationships with young lads?
Certainly women dating younger men is not a new phenomenon: Mrs. Robinson, anyone? However, these relationships have been gaining a lot of media attention recently, bringing cougars into the mainstream and suggesting they’re on the rise. We can thank star-studded celebrity couples such as cougar idol, Demi Moore, and her handsome other half, Ashton Kutcher, as well as Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins and lately Madonna, with her 22-year-old arm candy, Jesus Luz. Furthermore, 2009 marked the first ever Cougar Convention in Palo Alto, California, where Gloria Navarro was bestowed with the title of Miss Cougar America.
Books like Hot Cougar Sex: Steamy Encounters with Younger Men, are readily available on Amazon.com, not to mention internet dating sites and a new International Cougar Cruise offered by Carnival Cruise Lines. Most recently we can thank ABC’s new show, Cougar Town, featuring a cleavage-bearing Courteney Cox running about in search of fresh meat.
But before any attempts can be made to understand the reasons behind this upsurge in all things cougar-related, we have to know what exactly a cougar is. The term itself is said to have originated in the locker-room of a Canadian boys high school hockey team in the ’90s. It later gained popularity with “The Cougar Den” talk-show sketches on Saturday Night Live. While the show portrays cougars as desperate old ladies with fake breasts and orange tans, Opdenkelder says this couldn’t be further from the truth.
“A cougar is a woman who’s 35 and over, who is successful, strong, independent, who has her own thing going on. She doesn’t need a man to take care of her and she knows what she wants and how to get it,” said Opdenkelder.
Nevertheless, the Netherlands-born entrepreneur admits the term sometimes carries a negative stigma.
“The old school way of thinking is it’s an older woman in her forties scouring the bars, hunting for young prey, but that’s just something some guys made up a long time ago,” said Opdenkelder.
Chantal Maillé, Associate Professor of Women’s Studies at Concordia University’s Simone de Beauvoir Institute, says calling women cougars is not necessarily derogatory.
“I’m not sure the term is so negative. Part of it might be, but at the same time there’s an association the animal has with power and beauty,” said Maillé. “It’s just a new image to portray women who have power, and who are sexually aggressive.”
According to Maillé, the sheer fact the label is getting so much attention shows dating younger men is becoming more common. If it was peripheral, it wouldn’t have received this much attention she said.
Now that we have an idea about why people are talking about cougars, we can try to answer the burning question: why are more women dating younger men? And no, “Demi Moore made it cool” is not the correct answer.
“The reason they date younger men is because they have that zest for life that they do. This youthful spirit and go get ’em kind of attitude,” said Opdenkelder. “There’s no drama and there’s no ego problems.”
Conversely, the men like to date older women because they’re fed up with the drama, game playing and immaturity often associated with dating someone their own age or younger, explains Opdenkelder.
She should know; she’s currently dating a man 14 years her junior, and says she’s always done so. Opdenkelder says it’s not something she actively seeks out to do – it just happens to match her lifestyle.
Maillé attributes the increase in these relationships to changes in women’s lives over the past few decades, and to women developing interests that differ from men their age or older.
“Now, older women, are still active in the labour force, you can see them at the gym, at bars and restaurants; whereas 40 years ago, if you were an older woman and you were single, you were staying home,” said Maillé. “They complain that men are not aging as well as they are. They don’t want to go out, they loose interest in life, but many women feel they are still full of energy.”
Maillé says we can expect to see this relationship pattern rise, as growing numbers of women continue to move up in the workplace. The reason being men over 40 are often intimidated by powerful women, whereas younger men typically aren’t.
“Often they’ve been raised by mothers who were working and who challenged these traditional values. Now, we have this younger generation of men who are much more open-minded than their fathers’ generation,” said Maillé.
Perhaps older men are at the helm of ABC, because the network refused to air Opdenkelder’s commercial in New York and Los Angeles, claiming they felt uncomfortable promoting older women dating younger men. This came as a shock to Opdenkelder since not only is the premise of ABC’s show, Cougar Town, exactly that, but she says the ad was created as a joint venture with the studio. The fiasco even reached Perez Hilton, prompting the celebrity blogger to accuse ABC of having a double standard. Competing networks have since picked up the commercial, and it’s airing in most cities where ABC is broadcast.
While older men may still be adjusting to this dating dynamic, how do young guys actually feel? After all, what’s a cougar without her cub?
To find out, I asked a 25-year-old McGill Management graduate who I spotted deep in conversation with a pack of cougars at a trendy Westmount eatery last week. He agreed to speak with me on the condition his name not be used. This cub told me he hasn’t personally been intimate with an older woman (although he’d like to), but that many of his friends have.
“All my friends who have slept with older women say it’s insane. They’ve told me these women can do things they didn’t think women could do. They have years of sexual experience on you,” he said.
He says the bragging rights increase if the older woman has children and is cheating on her husband with you. The mom connection is part of the fantasy he explains. Does Stifler’s mom in American Pie ring a bell?
“In locker-rooms when you’re sixteen you talk about MILFs (Moms I’d like to fuck) but then you’re 20, and suddenly these MILFs you dream about, would love to feel young again and want to sleep with you,” he said.
To conclude, a word of advice from our insider cub:
“Cougars always want you to guess how old they are, but there’s no right answer because you know they’re old. Don’t be scared, just remember to guess a number younger than their real age, but not too low so they don’t think you’re joking.”

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