So, our riddle for the day is: when is a fox a cougar?
In the early days of writing Avalon, S.C., I pictured Chai Fox as a caricature. A New Age wacko, someone whose eccentricities we could laugh at without any emotional commitment to the character. But Chai quickly blew my preconceptions out of the water. She was the topic of a Blog Post back in Feb, Women Who Won’t Behave II.
Part of the problem is, I like Chai. I didn’t intend to, but she sort of snuck up on me. The characteristic that surprised me the most is that she doesn’t take herself too seriously. I had fully expected her to be a fire-breathing hardcore New Ager, and to some extent she is all of that. She believes what she preaches, for sure. Totally genuine in that respect. But what she doesn’t believe is that you and the rest of the world are doomed to destruction and despair if you don’t believe like she does. Not to mention, just the right touch of self-deprecation when it comes to herself and her fellow believers.
In case you missed it, here is a comment exchange with SusanH (Susan in Texas) on the last chapter.
SusanH: Ahh. Chai, the Boy Scout. Always prepared.
And Rick, once again, with the martinis. How quickly he forgets: Women can get you in a lot of trouble.
To me, Chai is much more interesting in this chapter, but still a mystery.
Me: What do you find so mysterious about Chai?
SusanH: More “a mystery” than mysterious. Maybe her complexity? When I first met her in Chap 17, I was unconvinced of her authenticity. Also found her “young” sexual mores and older manner of speaking plus the “old hippie” patchouli to be an incongruous mix. Now I’m convinced that she’s a believer, more convinced that she’s a cougar, and I’ve seen a bit of vulnerability.
So she is still a mystery. To me.
Susan is more qualified to discuss the topic than I am. I pretty much still believe that all women are a mystery because of their complexity.
As I said, I didn’t intend for Chai to be so authentic. Maybe that’s the difference between the first chapter and this one: she became more authentic throughout the course of her two appearances. But I’m pretty convinced that she’s the real thing, whatever the thing is: what you see is exactly what you get.
“Older manner of speaking:” Other than calling the waitress “dear,” I’m not sure what Susan is referring to here. In my opinion, she calls the waitress dear subconsciously, and does it because the difference in their experience and their naiveté are much greater than their real age difference (but remember: my opinion counts no more than anyone else’s. It’s not like I chose the word “dear” to convey that. It’s just how she talked in my head).
I won’t discuss her vulnerability; that’s pretty much for you to determine as the novel progresses. So I guess the only question left is: is Chai a cougar?
Dictionary.com has this as definition #2: Informal. an older woman who seeks sexual relationships with much younger men.
Meriman-Webster.com agrees: slang : a middle-aged woman seeking a romantic relationship with a younger man
I also went to the Urban Dictionary to see what the takes of their contributors were. Here are some:
An older woman who frequents clubs in order to score with a much younger man.
A 35+ year old female who is on the “hunt” for a much younger, energetic, willing-to-do-anything male.
An attractive woman in her 30’s or 40’s who is on the hunt once again. She may be found in the usual hunting grounds: nightclubs, bars, beaches, etc.
An “older,” experienced woman who happens to find herself in a sexual relationship (committed or not) with a younger man. She is not necessarily a slut, nor is she desperate. She offers sexual expertise and is open to new experiences. She simply wants to have fun.
A woman in her sexual prime who prefers to hunt rather than be hunted. A cougar’s victims are usually under 25.
6 our of 7 definitions agree: “The Hunt” is an essential part of the cougar (hence the association with a hunting cat?). But wait–Chai didn’t seek Rick out. And we have no information on who’s has been in relationship with–or who she’s slept with–before. So I’m going to go out on a limb and say that although the information may be incomplete, from what we know so far, Chai Fox is NOT a cougar.
David also posted an interesting comment on Chai:
David: I’m interested in where this thing with Chai Fox is going. It’s as though the sexual angle is a distraction for both of them but she can’t help herself.
I would almost agree, except instead of saying “can’t help herself,” I think “sees no reason to” is more accurate. Regardless, one thing we can safely conclude: Chai is sexually “open-minded.”
Or maybe it’s just the island.
(ps: I found this vintage magazine ad as the perfect illustration today)