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When humans play cat and mouse games, it gives cats and mice a bad name. If we’re in the mood to be excruciatingly honest with ourselves (not easy either), then we have to admit that we’ve engaged in this sort of thing. With a colleague, a family member, and yes, on occasion, even with a friend. Now, lest you think this is not viewed as serious business, consider that, The Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary actually has TWO separate listings.

“Cat-and-mouse: consisting of constant torment, continuous pursuit, near captures, repeated escapes, or watchful waiting for the best opportunity to attack (the technique of handling an opponent.)

Cat and mouse: behavior like that of a cat with a mouse; especially the act of toying with something before tormenting or destroying it.”

And, it can be as fierce as that sounds. Some people try to pass it off as “all in good fun,” but for the “pursued” it is not remotely a good time. So, here we are on the threshold of a new century and a new millennium and this sort of gamesmanship sounds pretty 50ish, right? Au contraire-not in the opinion of everyone.

In a book published two years ago, Boomer Babes, the authors sound a clarion call to start reading “The Prince” instead of waiting for him to come along and take care of us. We don’t have any argument with part of that but are Machiavellian techniques the way we really want to go at this point in our lives? That implies that we do whatever it takes to get what we want….as in, “the end justifies the means.” It calls for “master manipulation” and text book “passive-aggressive behavior.” It works for the comic strip cat, Garfield, but is that really what we want to be all about anymore, ever again, or even for the first time? To illustrate the point, we’ll cite chapter titles from two different, recently published, books for women.

Boomer Babes:

Ten Commandments for Preserving Babedom
Ten Commandments for Preventing Old Fartdom
How to Meet a Guy
A Babe’s Guide to Deprivation (aka Diet)
A Babe’s Guide to Torture (aka Exercise)
We Should Have Been Reading The Prince Instead of Waiting for Him
Making Up to Make It Big: The Babe’s Complete Guide to Makeup

Now for contrast, from Freedoms After 50 by Sue Patton Thoele, also published a couple of years ago:

Laugh at Forgetfulness
Roll with the Punches
Realize That Attitude is Everything
Eliminate the Angst
Speak My Truth
Trash Judgment
Age as Gracefully or Disgracefully As I Choose

We’ll definitely take the latter. Before you jump to the conclusion that our choice is based on “which is easier,” we genuinely believe that it’s more of a challenge to embrace the second outlook than the first one. Society expects us to hurl ourselves off the cliff of “making the most of a bad situation.” We just don’t happen to believe that when we reach a certain age, anyone should dictate how we live our lives. Been there, done that, it wasn’t always so terrific….we’re going forward, not back.

If you are personally interested in pursuing the “whatever it takes” path, you might want to pick up a copy of, “Princessa: Machiavelli for Women.” This small tome offers:

“For centuries men have used the lessons of Machiavelli’s The Prince to gain and hold power. Today’s women, struggling to succeed in a man’s world, must learn a crucial lesson of their own: men and women are NOT equal-and THAT is a woman’s greatest strength. From the wars of intimacy to battles of public life, whether confronting bosses, competitors, or lovers, the greatest power belongs to the woman who dares to use the subtle weapons that are hers alone.

This provocative work urges women to claim what they want and deserve, offering a bold new battle plan that celebrates a woman’s unique gifts: passion and intuition, sensitivity and cunning. It draws from history’s legendary female divas and poets, saints and sinners, artists and activists-who, armed with a desire for justice and a spirit of outrageousness, achieved their impossible dreams. Their lasting legacy is codified in The Princessa: act like a woman, fight like a woman, and life will be yours to command.”

So there! Now that’s about as “in your face” as it gets. When we first thought about “cat and mouse games,” we quickly remembered an old, old game from our childhood-“hide and seek.” Then, we recalled a chapter in Robert Fulghum’s book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. A far cry from “Boomer Babes” or “Princessa”, but we like it.

“In the early dry dark of an October Saturday evening, the neighborhood children are playing hide-and-seek. How long since I played hide and seek? Thirty years; maybe more. I remember how. I could become part of the game in a moment, if invited. Adults don’t play hide-and-seek. Not for fun, anyway. Too bad.

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