The Cougar And Her Prey

April 26, 2009

in Passenger Stories

Several months ago my wife and I were on a flight from Boston to Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos Islands. While the flight was full, my wife had managed to score us seats in the exit row allowing us to stretch out a bit and enjoy our vacation from the start. Prior to getting on the plane I had noticed a fairly amorous couple kissing and petting each other in the loading area. He was tall, and reasonably handsome, perhaps in his mid to late 30s and she was blonde, tanned and obviously much older, perhaps in her 50s and wearing various gold colored and/or leopard print clothing with lots of big gold jewelry. I didn’t think much of it, a cougar with her prey perhaps.

As we were settling into our seats we watched as the cougar led her prey to their seats directly across the aisle from us. At this point I noted that they both appeared to have enjoyed a few drinks at the airport lounge, perhaps a mimosa or a bloody mary or two as it was just shy of 10 in the morning. As I have been known to enjoy the odd cocktail or two and they were obviously off on vacation as well I didn’t think much of it.

Upon taking their seats the cougar and her young prey immediately attracted the attention of the flight attendant and requested some drinks; I didn’t catch exactly what they ordered but their requests were denied as the plane had not left the tarmac yet. Undaunted by the flight attendant’s refusal the resourceful young prey then produced 4 small bottles of some unknown liquor from his carry on bag, the contents of which were quickly consumed in a few quick swigs. It was then that my wife noted that the young prey, obviously in an attempt to subdue the cougar, pulled out a small plastic bottle, the kind that prescription pills come in, and proceeded to offer her a handful which was quickly scarfed down by his would-be attacker. He himself downed a handful, possibly to dull his senses.

Once again, as I am an open-minded individual, I didn’t think much of it and sat back eagerly anticipating our arrival in the islands. Upon reaching our cruising altitude, the young buck quickly summoned the flight attendant and ordered a round of drinks for himself and the aged cougar which again were hastily consumed. At this point the pair were growing increasingly intoxicated by the consumed alcohol and possible narcotics, a point both my wife and I found mildly humorous but not altogether out of the ordinary. More drinks were ordered and consumed and as with shampoo this cycle was repeated a few more times, wash, rinse, repeat. The flight attendant soon became wise to the couples inebriation and cut them off, a point that was met with some argument.

As the cougar slipped from simply being drunk to borderline belligerent the young prey saw his opportunity to escape. As the cougar began to slip into unconsciousness he quickly slipped to the back of the plane and informed the flight attendants that he had only met the woman that morning and was not traveling with her and then requested a seat change. The flight attendants found the only other empty seat on the plane and the young prey, having slipped through the claws of the now napping cougar, settled in.

Meanwhile in the seat across from me the cougar slumbered peacefully, lulled to sleep by the copious quantities of booze and pills. However, per FAA regulations, flights need to have able bodied individuals in the exit rows, not semi-comatosed predators. Accordingly the flight attendants began to look for someone to switch seats with the cougar. Somewhat naively a gentleman volunteered to switch seats, giving up his cramped seat next to the lavatory for the more spacious exit row.

This is when things got entertaining. The flight attendants attempted to row the cougar first by speaking to her, then by poking and finally by shaking her a bit, I was waiting for them to have to give her a sternal rub to wake her. She blinked her eyes a bit and then mumbled out something along the lines of “what the @$#% do you want.” They informed her that they needed her to switch seats as this was an exit row. Another mumbled phrase escaped her mouth but was both too garbled and quiet for me to catch but I imagined it was of a similar content to her previous uttering. Finally, after much coxing they got her to attempt to stand. Mind you I say attempt. A second attempt was made this time with assistance from several flight attendants but as before she landed back in the seat. A third time, this time a young man tried to help, to which the cougar uttered “get your #&*^ing hands off me.” As with most things in life, the third time was a charm.

Fully supported by the flight attendants, the subdued cougar was carried to her new den several rows back. As her replacement settled into his seat across the aisle from us, he relayed some of the background information to us. I once again settled into my seat amongst the whispering of our fellow travelers. For the next 30 minutes or so the flight was quiet but as we all could sense this would not last for long.

As with most animals tranquilized cougars awake from their slumber somewhat confused and will attack anything that appears to threaten them as we all soon witnessed. The cougar in row 42 soon wakened from her drug and alcohol induced sleep, rose and staggered towards the exit row unseen by the flight attendants. Upon reaching our row, she looked down at her replacement, puzzled by the presence of this stranger she stammered out something like “who the %&$# are you?”

Not waiting for an answer she then began to climb onto the arm of his seat in an attempt to gather her belongings from the overhead compartment but failed miserably, collapsing back against my seat. Standing back up she went into a tirade using pretty much every 4 letter expletive I have ever heard and a few new ones. She again attempted to climb onto the arm of his seat, her 3 inch heels scraping away at the plastic and metal. At this point the flight attendants were on to her and quickly carried her back to her seat where she slipped back into a deep sleep.

The rest of the flight was uneventful. After we landed and made our way through customs we saw the young prey slip through immigration and out the door. The cougar, being pushed in a wheelchair, possibly still unable to walk, also made her way through customs and immigration.

Wildlife coordinator for USAir

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Demotage April 27, 2009 at 4:47 am

A couple of things don't add up here:

1) …the young man supposedly told the FA that he wasn't travelling with the woman, but they had exit row seats together on a full plane? Clearly, they didn't end up there by happenstance, as they clearly knew each other before getting on the plane.

2) how is it that you overheard the young man's conversation at the back of the plane, when you were seated forward in the exit row?

For someone who professes having no concern about the couple (at first) you sure seem to have been watching them like a hawk (since you seem to like animal metaphors).

Clearly you are enamored of the 'couger' metaphor, since you -oh so cleverly- carry it through your post, but I find it kind of judgmental, if not a little offensive, especially for someone as supposedly 'open minded' as yourself. Maybe the guy just liked older women. You don't seem to impose the same level of judgment on him. Even if he hadn't previously known her, a descent person would have at least made sure she was ok, after plying her with booze and pills to the point of unconsciousness. But of course, none of it was his fault because he was under attack from the viscious 'couger', and so was justified in scampering back into the woods to lick his wounds. Nothing cowardly about that.


dan April 27, 2009 at 4:58 am

I would agree that his actions were reprehensible, he basically ditched her. Also I failed to mention that he switched seats with someone else to sit with her.

The FA's filled the guy who offered up his seat to move to the exit row on the situation, hence how we got some of the dirt on the situation. Also, on a smallish flight like this one it is pretty hard not to notice what is going on in the aisle across from you. And I admit it, I like to people watch when I travel, some people read, I like to see what's going on around me


MJ April 27, 2009 at 12:53 pm

Regardless, I also find the cougar theme a bit demeaning to women (and I'm in my 20s). I also find it pretty ridiculous that you blame the entire situation on the woman, when the man, as an adult, was at least partly to blame (he gave her pills for *@&%$ sake!).

The whole thing sounds entertaining, but your retelling ruins it.


Julicans April 27, 2009 at 4:07 pm

I liked your story and found it very funny and entertaining. It sounds like the boy found himself in over his head and needed a way out. I don't see anywhere that you blamed anyone.


Denise April 28, 2009 at 12:16 pm

I found this entertaining and hilarious. The cougar/prey reference was great and well done. It made a story that could have been boring in the telling funny instead.

Unlike "MJ" who found the cougar reference just oh so demeaning to women, I didn't. I'm in the age group they tend to refer to when calling women "cougars" (I'm in my 40's) and I don't find it offensive at all. Now that I've been around that extra 20 years, it takes much more to offend me. Well done, Dan. I look forward to another story from you if you have one!


Nacho April 29, 2009 at 8:46 am

MJ, "cougar" is actually slang for a woman who chases after younger men. While I agree that the woman isn't wholly to blame, and that some slang words are tasteless, but this situation and retelling was pretty spot-on, it sounds like.

(And I'm a woman in my 20s, too!)

All that being said, this story made me both LOL and want to kick that asshat in the pants. Over your head or not, there's still such a thing as grace!


Nacho April 29, 2009 at 8:46 am

Meh, excuse my grammar in the first paragraph. It may be 2pm, but I'm still rather tired.


Atari May 31, 2009 at 8:44 pm

The problem with this writing is that you have too much build up and subtle (and unsubtle) indications, for an overall weak conclusion.

Giving them aliases, hinting at impending attacks and the overall feel made it seem like something should have happened, but nothing ever did.

I think it was overly descriptive for very little payoff.


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