A friend of mine is looking to get back into the dating game, and lately I’ve been offering up suggestions of things to do:Maybe an online dating site? Perhaps a Meetup group? Or perhaps he and I could hit up some area establishments for some good old-fashioned “Hi, haven’t I seen you before?”-ness. It’s the age-old question that’s rarely genuine, but generally elicits a few words of a reply which, more often than not, turn into a brief discussion and — thus — the path is paved. We chilled on the patio with our wine, and then he said he’d been thinking about going to the Foxfire. For those who aren’t aware, it’s a location that I’m sure used to be the “it” spot of Anaheim Hills, and maybe one of the better places in OC. I really don’t know, so I’m speculating. But it’s been around for a while, although in recent years I’ve heard it mentioned each time in the same breath as “Cougar Den.” Yes, the Foxfire is apparently a place where the ladies can be adored by the younger man. My friend is not old, nor is he 21. He’s 37, so I instantly imagined him cornered by a feisty and voracious 45+ year old woman. It was an amusing notion, but I thought that it might be wise for him to ultimately have a chaperone. “I can totally go with you — it’d be fun,” I said. “I could be your wingman…er, wingwoman.” “But wouldn’t that look like we’re together?” he asked. My opinion on this is that it would have to do with our body language. If I’m not fawning, then no — we wouldn’t be mistaken for being “together.” And if I make a concerted effort to seem distant or put off, all the more cougars for him. The other side of things is that even if we were together, my gut was telling me that I’d be no match for a determined cougar and he’d probably get some attention either way. I started to imagine the night playing out (OK, not ALLLLL the way out) in my mind, and then got to wondering what I’d be doing if he hit it off with someone. Would I stir my drink absent-mindedly, getting some sort of amusement from the connection in front of me? Would I go home and leave them to themselves? Then it hit me: if this place was really a cougar den and the men who flocked there were in the market for some, well, “maturity,” it’s feasible that I — at 35 — may find myself being engaged in conversation by a 21 year old…maybe on his 21st birthday, maybe not. Or maybe a 22 or 23 year old fresh out of college (yikes) would be chatting me up. The point is that I could suddenly be considered a cougar by those younger than me, despite the fact that I’ve heard it’s a term reserved for the 40+ crowd. It really doesn’t matter though…because if not “cougar,” then “cradle-robber” would be another fine choice in this situation. And what would I say if I actually partnered up with someone from the den? “Hi, so-and-so. I want you to meet [insert youngster’s name here]. He and I met at the Foxfire.” Yikes. I was instantly weirded out by the whole idea, and mentally reneged on my wingwoman offer. Trying to rid myself of the dirty feeling all over my person, I sipped on my wine some more and was comforted by the fact that the comfort of my patio was our location — not the dark den of discreet (or not so discreet) delights of age-gappery. Yes, tonight I was thankful for just enough of the cougar den situation playing out in my mind to remind me that I, too, could be a young man’s cougar. But not this year. The Foxfire will have to wait. At least until my 40th birthday.