DEAR ABBY: I'm an athletic, youthful-looking 58, and my son, "Barry," is 24. We go out alone for dinner quite often because my husband (Barry's father) doesn't enjoy eating in restaurants. My problem is the angry stares my son and I get from younger -- and older -- women who mistake me for a "cougar" out on a date with my "cub."
The other night when I left our table to use the restroom, a woman approached Barry, told him he was "disgusting," and asked, "Why don't you date girls your own age?" He informed her that I was his mother, but even if I wasn't, it was none of her business. Another time, a girl Barry's age asked him why he was out with "an old hag" and said, "How can you want her over me?" This happens every time we go out.
I dress well and look like I could be in my 40s, but I have to wonder about the rudeness and ignorance of someone insulting my son without knowing the circumstances of the situation. Some of them refused to believe the truth even after Barry told them.
Interestingly, young men who have commented thought it was "awesome" that Barry could be out with a cougar. It's only the females who have a problem with us. Can you comment on this? -- HAPPILY MARRIED MOM IN OHIO
DEAR MOM: Some thoughts do come to mind: Women who are happy in their personal lives don't approach strangers with snide remarks like those you have repeated. The women were rude, presumptuous, probably envious -- and I'll bet they were also alone, because it's hard to imagine a woman with a date doing something so outrageous.
I'm not surprised that younger men might think it was "awesome" that your son could be out with a cougar. When the subject was raised in my column, the men who commented said what attracted them to older women was that they are confident, relaxed, comfortable with themselves and fun to be around -- while younger women didn't bother to be subtle about their preference for men with money.
And one more thing: You must be quite a knockout to attract the kind of attention you're getting.