Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Guest - Michelle Bounfiglio

We welcome bella Michelle Bounfiglio, of's Romance B(u)y The Book to the convertible today!

Buongiorno to all you chicks riding today with the top down! Thanks so much for letting me join you to show you how out of the mouths of babes, blog posts are born.

Like good mothers everywhere, last night, about a half hour before their bedtime, I bundled my kids into the car to go to McDonalds for dinner. And along the way, my ten-year-old son – whose voracious reading has in the past inspired my blogs and columns to the tune of one about the sexiest string theorist at Harvard and a couple articles about the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition – pipes up and says, “Mumma, I was reading Time magazine?”

He states it with that curious inquisitive ending inflection that drives me nuts. But since I’m already behind on Mom of the Year points, I let it slide. He continues.

”And they had this feature about Top Ten buzzwords? Do you know what a Cougar is?”

And I freeze thinking: Oh, God. He’s noticed the way I check out those young construction dudes when we’re stuck in traffic. Or seen me ogling the good-looking single male teachers at his school. Maybe I’m not as slick as I think, now that I’m “of a certain age” -- that one in which guys I’m finding sexually attractive seem to be “of a certain age” a couple decades shy of mine.

Yet it was only a short while ago that I learned what my son now knows that “cougar” is the new term for an older woman who goes after younger men. There’s even a web site called, where Cougars can go to learn how to hunt the elusive “Wounded Zebra” younger male. And Wounded Zebras – or guys skilled in playing the WZ -- can hit the site, too, to learn how to, um, use their, ahem, spears, to attract grateful Cougars of their very own.
I dunno if I dig the term cougar too much. I mean, I thought we’d gotten to a point where we understood that confident men find us even more attractive as we mature and learn more about our feminine selves, bodies, sexualities. We cheer on Madonna and Demi and Halle – oh, yes, you go Halle, girl – for gettin’ themselves some youthful sumthin' sumthins by being fit and fun and wise.

Frankly, there are better pop terms for women to embrace and aspire to. Ten years ago when new-mom moi sobbed to my husband, “I didn’t give up being a woman when I became a mother!” who knew that one day I might fantasize about rising to exalted status of MILF.

Hey, a middle-aged romance columnist can dream, cain’t she?

So, which would you rather be: Cougar or MILF – (Madonna, Halle and Demi are all both!)? What kind of older woman/younger man relationship is best? And, at 43, how many decades younger are too young for me to lust after, anyway?
Please join me/Michelle and the Bellas every day at Romance: B(u)y the Book and Michelle’s blog.
And please link to RBTB to your site/blog to help us positively support the romance genre and industry!
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Michelle will give away a 12 pack of new romance novels to one lucky commenter. A name will be drawn tomorrow morning and posted here. Please check back to see if you've won!

Princesses for a day, Kathy, Lois, Michelle B. and Michele


Bridget Locke said... know, dating has changed so much in the last fifteen years. I'm only 31, but I remember when a girl wasn't even supposed to call a guy first. Now it's common place.

As for dating younger men...I admit...I'm guilty. :) My last boyfriend was 6 years younger than me. No we didn't last very long, but that had nothing to do with age. His ex came around again.

I don't think it's wrong for an older woman to date younger men, but I do think there should be an age limit (for older men, too). There's nothing worse than seeing an 80 year old with a 20 year old. Just...ugh!

Just my 2 cents. :D

Jane said...

Hey Michelle,
I'm pretty sure I would rather be a milf than a cougar. I'm not a fan of big age differences between couples. I think a ten year age difference should be the max.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Buongiorno, everybody! Michele, thanks for letting me drop by! I'm so psyched to be hanging with you all again. You have so much fun here. I'll try to live up to that standard. :)

'mornin, Bridget! Honey, don't plead guilty, state it proudly and know I bow before your great good sense! I'm so glad you brought up the older guy thing, cause I kept thinking about it when I was musing on the Cougar thang.

Cougar kinda grates, but I think older men probably hate the term "Dirty Old Man," too, right? I guess the predator part of cougar is what's so unattractive. Like, I picture this 65 year-old paper-thin socialite with a not-nice nature, "buying" pretty young men to use as playthings. Not really equivalent to a Sugar Daddy, cause that's got a "kindly" tone to it, doesn't it? Not to get too feminist, but whoever came up with the term kinda found a way to slap down women for what guys have been doing for centuries.

Or am I misinterpreting the term? Is it actually complimentary? Cause I know MILF is, as well as kinda sophomorically funny. Although I'm certain some folks consider neither term complimentary or funny.

Hiya, jane! Good to see ya. Ten years makes sense. I always think of the 18 year old heroines who marry the 40 year old alphas in historical romances. I think, man when she hits her peak, he's wayyy out of his, with no pharmaceuticals in sight. Now, does the ten year rule apply to lusting after younger men, or just dating them. I'm taking notes...

CrystalGB said...

I would say MILF. As long as the guy is mature, I don't think it would matter if the age difference is over ten years. If the couple is on the same wavelength and share the same interests, it could work out fine.

Cindy Gerard said...

Hey Michelle. Welcome to the ragtop!
Love your post. And to my way of thinking, if you stop lusting, you stop living :o) so go cougars. One of my recent books featured a heroine ten years older than the hero. I loved the dynamics of that relationship - and according to my mail, readers did too. So, we're not alone out there.
And BTW - how did those 3 get to be princesses for the day with you when the rest of us riders are oh, so princess-like :o)

Katie B. said...

I'm only 27, and don't have any kids, but I'd have to say that I'd rather be a milf.

Helen Brenna said...

Michelle! Thanks for coming by today and for giving me a hearty morning laugh.

As the mother of a 19 year old daughter who has lots of friends over I would much rather be a cougar than a MILF, thank you very much.

I played a game of pool with a couple of her guy friends last weekend and my husband got a good chuckle out of that the next morning. I didn't get it until he explained they probably got a good eyeful every time I bent over for a shot.

Bottom line, I'd rather be the hunter than the hunted!

Oh, and I read the age rule for the younger guy thing is take your own age, divide by 2 and add 7. Mathematically, I think it'd be tough for the guy to be young enough to be your son. Yuck!

That means, Michelle, any guy older than 28 if, um, fair game.

MaryKate said...

Good morning, Queen Bella and the ladies of RWTTD! Thanks for letting the Bellas invade for the day!

Well, I'll be the first to say it, when Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes got together, my reaction was "Ewww! What's up with that?!"

My reaction when Demi Moore started dating and eventually married Ashton Kutcher? "You go girl!"

Yeah, I realize it's hypocritical. I embrace that side of myself. ;oP

MsHellion said...

Being I'm a bit too much like a cougar now (a ratty, mangy looking one at that), I think I'm going to go with MILF. Not that I have kids. But I used to have this fantasy about becoming the Koolaid Mom--the mom who baked cookies and was so utterly cool and everyone wants to hang out at my house?

This was also back in the day when I thought being a high school English teacher would be a fun job. I was a very naive child.

Michele Hauf said...

Welcome, Michelle!

I didn't even know what milf was, and at first I read it as 'milk'. Yeah, I know, I so NEED to be a milf, if just for a day.

I applaud older women who snag sexy young men. But they should be sexy, yes? Otherwise, what's the purpose? :-)

It's weird because my brother is 40 and he's dating a 20-something. It makes me cringe every time I think of it, because his girlfriend is very close in age to my daughter! But I guess if you can still snag 'em that young...

Cindy, we'll have to get you a tiara. :-)

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

hiya, mshellion! So nice to see you! You're making me laugh about the Cool-aid mom thing and the naivete; i had a similar fantasy. You can see how my parenting experience has turned out. And I'm looking kinda mangy today, too.

Helen, you're a total MILF! You should see the gams on that girl! I totally giggle when myh husband calls me that. Is that TMI? I would hope that everyone who wants one has a guy who is playful like that about their chick's sexuality and aging. And, truly, while MILF came from American Pie, I guess, it really underscores the idea that we remain sexual even as we become moms and get older.

Cindy! Heya! I love it: If you stop lusting, you stop living. Your book sounds great, and I'm glad to hear readers love it. Can I say that while I love the older woman scenario in romance, it's one in which I have trouble using the heroine as a placeholder. I just can't imagine a younger guy not running screaming at the sight of me in certain, well, situations. Again w/the TMI? btw, the ladies were princesses at my birthday party last year.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

I totally get and support your hypocrisy,MaryKate! Really, I relate it all to maturity and sex. Shocker. Guys grow into maturity more slowly than chicks, but if you can bear with it, you get to reap the benefits of their youthful exuberance while molding them into better men and lovers. You get them while you're both in peak physiological years in terms of sexuality. Then, when he's at the waning age, you're physiology is changing, too, so you adjust together. Plus, maturationally, you're on the same page, so you can build a new level of emotional intimacy into the golden years.

How'd that sound as a justification for getting some sexy younger man, as Michele puts it? Did you buy it? I particularly like the "youthful exuberance" part. :)

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

You go, katie b.! I'm with you there. I have a MILF fantasy, too, but it so totally doesn't involve, like high school boys. Is it OK if it involves, like, grad students? Exceptionally mature-for-their-ages MIT computer genius seniors? I'm just askin is all.

Helen Brenna said...

Grad students, I get. If we're talking NOT high school students, I could see being a MILF.

Julie in Ohio said...

Hey, Michelle!! Morning, All!!!

I want to be a MILF. Maybe not in the literal sense but to get that kind of attention from some young thing would do the ego good. =o)

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Yeah, Helen. The high school thing's just creepy to me. I mean, I know young boys fantasize about their moms' hot friends. I know a guy in his 30s who loves dating women intheir 40s cause he was so hot for his mom's friends when he was in those adolescent years. That may make it a fetish, I'm not sure, although I think those 40something women may appreciate his adoration.

Anywayz, I don't care what any woman fantasizes about as long as she doesn't act on it. But I don't like seeing moms flirting with teenage boys, or telling me about it. It's so damaging and inappropriate and just shy of abusive. As a mom, I think it's pretty easy to tell when your son has a crush on someone: his own age, a babysitter, your own friend. And it's really easy to draw boundaries, too, and give signals or outright let the boy know his feelings aren't returned w/out shaming him.

LeeAnn said...

Good morning QB and everyone at RWTDD!

Ok so I’m not old enough to be a cougar (23) but if were not talking HS boys here I so want to be a MILF! But then that just puts them at my age range anyways LOL.

But I’ve always had a thing for older men. I totally get being a cougar and a MILF but there is something about a guy that’s older and already established that I find sexy. But I do have my limits and looks/personality have a huge weighing in factor :o) I’ve had a few cute older guys go from cute older guy status to creepy old guy status pretty quick lol. Does that make any sense?

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

'morning, Julie! Happy Birthday, Bella! I'm so with you on that.

Playground Monitor said...

*moan, groan, moan* And those are the sounds of a woman who's just been pleasured. I have a horrid cold and ache all over and can't even think clearly enough to know which I'd want to be.

*waves to Michelle and the others*

I'm going back to bed, where I wish I had a sexy man of any age to rub my back and take a cool cloth and wipe my fevered brow.


Michelle Buonfiglio said...

It makes absolute sense, leeann! And you know, I think moms in general do -- or should -- embrace the term MILF as complimentary and implying that guys of any age can/should/will adore those of us who happen to have children.

I joke about it in this blog, but I know that many women don't recognize how they give up their "womanhood" and the sexuality woven with it when they become mothers.

Thinking of ourselves as MILFs says, yeah, I'm hot now and I have kids. But it gets even better! Wait til I'm in my 40s and the physiology kicks in. You're gonna hope you get to be the one I choose to be around for that! :)

Being a MILF is ageless, really, so lets embrace it, shall we?

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Oh, Marilyn, hope you're feeling better soon. Glad you stopped in here despite your ills. Aren't these RWTTD women great? If I had a sexy guy around, I'd send him your way. Cause I'm a giver.

Katie B. said...

Michelle- I agree about the high school boys, just ewww. Can we say jail bait? Grad students would work... Yeah, I could go for that.

Playground Monitor said...

still hanging around and with a clearer head after a nice hot shower, which would have been nicer had some sexy guy been in there to scrub my back ;-)

As a MOOS (a term Christie taught me recently) maybe I look at the whole cougar/MILF thing differently. Y'all mention grad students. #2 son is a grad student and cutie pie that he is, I'm just not sure how I'd feel if he brought a forty-year-old woman home for Thanksgiving dinner. #1 son is the same age as Ashton Kutcher and when he married Demi my first thought was about how I'd feel if my son married a woman that much older and with 3 kids to boot.

I suppose if you toss my kids from the equation, I'd probably want to be a cougar -- the hunted rather than the Hunter as Helen said.

And yeah... the gals in the convertible are super. :-)

PJ said...

Hi Michelle! Great blog!

I married a hot 43 yr old guy when I was 24 (I'm 6 yrs older than my stepdaughter) and thought nothing of the age diff. At the same time a male friend was dating a woman 20 yrs older and I thought it was creepy. Talk about your double standards! LOL!

Now, I'm a 56 yr old widow and I'd adore being a Cougar/MILF to a hot 30 something guy. I guess I probably shouldn't blow off Curves this afternoon to make chocolate covered chex mix if I want to see those aspirations reach fruition? (grin) Btw, my stepdaughter is happily married to a younger man and my biggest cheerleader.

Debra Dixon said...

Michelle-- Thanks for stopping by and blogging about a subject dear to my heart...younger men. (g) I considered parents' day on campus more of a treat than a chore!

An interesting turn of events when my kid was in high school I had lost a lot of weight and exercised into a great figure. I dressed accordingly. The kid wasn't happy. LOL! I didn't wear mini-skirts or shirts cut down to my navel or short shorts but I wore a new style of clothes that fit, everywhere. He said I should go back to the "other" clothes. I said, "What is your problem?" He said--"My friends."

That is one of my favorite moments of all time. LOL!

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

pj, I'm sorry for your loss. I'm not really sure how I feel about a 20 diff between an older woman/younger man. I just can't imagine it for myself in real life. It really is funny how all our double standards rise to the surface in this discussion. But good for us for admitting them, right? Oh, I just joined Curves! I wanted to make myself go somewhere where I could just work off some stress, but didn't have to do it in front of men. I like it.

Marilyn, like you, I can't take my son out of the equation either. But truly, when I meet women who are adored by their younger guys, I am so totally in their corners. It's so gutsy and really says, "this relationship is mine, and nobody gets to put limitations on it." And they get the benefit of all that youthful exuberance. Did I mention that?

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

oh, Debra! What a great story!!!!! You go! I love that you chose youthful clothes that highlight your figure. That's another thing, we can still wear sexy clothes, we just can't wear the same ones our daughters wear. That can just make us look way too "mature."

Honestly, I never thought about parents' day on campus...

Michele Hauf said...

THe high school-age boys. Hmm... My son is seventeen so I see plenty of 'em around here. I find I don't look at them in any means like 'oh, that's a cute one.' But I do like to imagine what they will become. That that one gawky one out of the bunch that has scruffy hair and kinda looks down all the time, and maybe has a few zits. But man, give him a few more years to grow into himself, and he'll be a prize. Funny how girls their age can't see stuff like that, huh?

Of course, I couldn't see it when I was that age either. :-)

PJ said...

Oh Debra, I love your story! Way to go, girl!

Christie Ridgway said...

Hi, Michelle! Thanks for riding.

My husband is a high school teacher so I learned about MILFs some time ago. Kinda liked the idea that young men were looking at older women that way. Cougar...well, it has a powerful message. MILFs are adored from afar (or fantasized about) while the Cougar is actually looking herself.

That said, as a happily married woman with sons, I think I'm more MILF material than I am huntress.

In the mip, however, the hero is three years younger than the heroine--who is a widow of a man who was much older. So I get to play a little with the younger man/older woman thing. It's not a big fantasy for me, which is probably why I left it at just the 3 years.

Betina Krahn said...

Welcome Michelle! You know, I thought about doing a blog on "being a cougar" once. Realized I didn't have enough data on that. ::grin::

Meanwhile, I'd rather be a cougar at this stage in my life. But I confess, I'm more comfortable with men nearer my own age-- + or - 6 years or so. MILF is not a bad gig, but I'd be really uncomfortable to know that my kids' friends thought of me that way. With strangers, maybe I could handle it.

What's the word for "grandmother's I'd love to Fondle"? GILF? Is that even a term anywhere? How about "Grandmother's I'd Love to Take Shopping"? GILTS. Grandmas and Guilt. A natural combination.

flchen1 said...

Hi, Michelle! Boy, I learned a lot from your post today! (I guess I've been living in a cave--I didn't know either of those terms before!) I guess I'd rather be a MILF, but that would imply that I might need to wear clothes other than my chosen sweats and t-shirts... I'm not sure I have the wherewithal to do that just yet! ;) And I'm not at comfortable imagining my son's friends someday lusting after me--no thank you! But a somewhat younger-than-me hottie--bring him on!

And what an amazing site you have!

limecello said...

Hi Michelle!
So nice to see you here- I hope this comment appears - the airport internet is so slow!! As to what I'd rather be... I'd have to pick MILF - or maybe both, once I get to that age. :X Cougar doesn't appeal to me at all, considering my age [early 20s] so... yeah - ew. Going younger - especially the age difference they're doing would be beyond illegal. Haha. But good for all those women! They look fantastic.
It's nice that moms are sexy now - of course, the actresses etc are setting the bar incredibly high!

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Hey, limecello! lol! Isn't it nice you have these things to look forward to? And you're so right about the star cougar/MILFs. I keep thinking, yeah, if I looked like Halle Berry, I'd be thinking more in terms of this being cool in real life. :)

thanks for the nice words about RBTB, flchen1! I hope you'll come visit and add your voice to the mix. I felt just like you when I learned about cougar at RBTB a while back, like where have I been? And I learned about MILF from my husband (as well as "I'd like to hit that," as in I'd like to "do her.") I confess I find the use of language describing sex and related stuff fascinating --especially in the vernacular, hip everyday sense.

Hiya, Betina!!!! GILFS is the funniest thing I ever heard. Please trademark and set up a site about it immediately. GILTS! I love it. Because sometimes shopping can be better than men.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Great point about the active/passive thing, Christie! I love that scenario you describe when it allows the heroine to enjoy fabulous, enthusiastic, bonding and joyful lovemaking with the younger man to kind of make up for what she wasn't getting with the older guy, whether that was sexual or emotional intimacy. I'm obsessed at the moment with the idea of sanctuary as a theme in romance, in its many forms; that's one of them.

Michele, I do the same thing. You can just tell the kids who are going to be real keepers -- boys and girls. And I think the same thing, the kid's gonna have a rough time of it for a while, but, man, when s/he grows up, it'll make him/her even more of a prize to some lucky person. HOpefully they won't be so messed up from the trauma of adolescence that they choose unwisely, but that's a blog for another day...

anne said...

Welcome Michelle!
I always had an interest in older and mature men, just an attraction to their maturity and looks. I did marry a man who is 10 months older than me, but I always looked young for my age and did until now. It worked out well and it is sometimes dependent upon your common interests.

ruth said...

Hi Michelle!
I married a man my exact age and he died suddenly this past summer. Young. But I continue to teach, and haven't started looking yet. I am not interested in the youth but prefer a man whose lived. I Like character, depth and meaning to my relationships and hope to find someone with that for my future.

diane said...

Welcome Michelle!
I am getting married this May to a wonderful young man whose maturity is what attracted me as well as his charm and intelligence. I think that two years apart is fine. I believe that I am traditional about the age differences and above 6-8 years would be a big gap in major differences.

jenna said...

I am just graduating this Spring from graduate school. I know if I don't meet someone compatible at this point in my life, it will be difficult. I know so many young women in their thirties who are alone and miserable because they have not met that someone. I think it is much easier when you are around young people and have similar goals. I would love to have a maximum 5 year gap since that would be the most I believe is suitable.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

thank you, everyone, for sharing so openly.

Hi, Ruth. What a shame. I'm so sorry you've got to experience that kind of loss. The type of maturity you speak of is very attractive, and wins out for me, too. I guess folks can have it at any age -- old souls, as they say.

Ah, so you dig the older men, Anne! My husband is 4 years older then I am. I always knew I'd end up with someone older, yet I suspect as we age, the guys finally catch up on the maturity thing. Or is that wishful thinking, I wonder? :)

Best wishes, Diane! You sound very happy to have found someone you see eye-to-eye with.

hullo, jenna! five years is a nice range. And I haven't been single for a long time -- almost 20 years, yikers. I was 24 when I met my husband, 28 when we married. Lots of my friends were older than I was when they met their husbands. You're probably right about being around young people w/similar interests.

I also hear so many people say it happens when you least expect it. It totally did for me, because it was at a time when I was way too busy for a guy, and figured it'd be at least a year til I could think about it.

I don't think having a guy is a be/all end all. But for women who desire the connection and intimacy, it is very fulfilling, and worth looking for and waiting for.

Nathalie said...

I am not such a fan of these relationships... maybe because I am 21... I think 5 years is enough... so I don't like the Demi Moore relationship!

Lily said...

I think that it is nice that older women are attractive to younger men... and it is a message that woman are now equals to men in many way, as before only men could date younger women and they serched for them...

7 years difference for me is a max, either way :)

Anonymous said...

it is great, we have noting to be ashamed of, men having been doing it for years

kim h
more power to woman

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Here, here, kim!

7 is an interesting number, lily! And it is nice to have this new equality, isn't it? :)

LOL, nathalie. Yes, 21 is a little young for Cougardom. I'm not too sure about the Demi thing, either. I feel like we're watching him grow up right along with her kids. But there must be something to it. then again, it's Hollywood, so all bets are off when it comes to looking at this stuff logically.

windycindy said...

I am not sure what constitutes an older woman age wise, but I am seven years older than my husband. He is my first and only husband. I am his first and only wife. I very rarely dated men my own age or older. I like to "train" them! He cooks most of our meals because he likes too. I am a SAHM because he really wanted me to be and I do enjoy it. Thanks,Cindi

Cait London said...

There's a lot of chatter on TV now about cougars. Hey. I say Go for It :) If you see a good thing, why step back?
I prefer the cougar term much more than "boy toy." With older men and younger women the traditional roles, there is no reason why older women should take a back seat. But then, when you look at those Halle and Demi have chosen, those are actually very mature men, even if younger. Ashton is not usual by any means. When you see them interviewed, how they feel about their mates, the prospective on cougars changes. For both, I think it is more of a kindred souls thing.

Anonymous said...

When my kid was in high school, he was outraged when one of his friends called me a MILF. Naturally, I was flattered, even if that kid needed a white cane and a seeing eye dog.
Now he's in college. He told me the other night that one of his friends asked if my tatas "are real".
But before I could start preening, he clarified. It was a FEMALE friend.