The coming curmudgeon
I am slowly but inevitably becoming a grumpy curmudgeon, I accept that now. That’s not to say that I don’t still see myself as the long-haired leaping gnome of my youth, but the evidence that my inner gray haired grouch is emerging is overwhelming.
If life were a Clint Eastwood movie, and it really should be, up until now I’ve always seen myself as an Outlaw Josey Wales kind of guy; a rugged loner who’d rather die fighting than give up the cause. Lately, I’ve become fan of Walt Kowalski from Gran Torino because I really like the idea of sitting on my porch growling, “Get off my lawn” to passing thugs. Besides, I never really got the whole Sondra Locke thing anyway … what was that all about?
While I have never been able to answer the burning question, “ Am I a man or am I a Muppet?”, I have always known that if I’m a Muppet I must be Animal. Like me, Animal is a barely restrained maniac and, let’s face it, chicks dig him. Now I’m thinking that I could be either Statler or Waldorph sitting in the balcony box shouting insults at life as it plays out in front of me. I suspect that Statler and Waldorph have grandma groupies and these days, I’m OK with that.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to insult actual curmudgeons by claiming to be one yet. I realize that I’m far too young and tolerant to enter the final fraternity of grumpy grouches. Heck, just last week I sat patiently at a red light waiting for some numbskull to finish his text before making a right turn that he could have made several times; I didn’t honk, question is ancestry or even give him the international finger gesture for, “Please put your phone down and drive.”
I just turned up the music and rocked out to Bohemian Rhapsody until I pulled a muscle in my neck from car dancing; then I honked, gave him the finger and rubbed my neck — Mama mia! The transition from leaping gnome to cranky curmudgeon can be a painful one!
When I was a young sailor I was used to standing in lines and waiting. Aside from being world-class nautical fighting men, hurry up and wait is what young sailors do best. We stood in line to eat, get paid, to come aboard the ship then to leave the ship. Heck we even stood in line to do things we didn’t want to do; I once stood in line for an hour to get a malaria shot so I could go ashore in a country I didn’t even want to go to.
So much of my misspent youth was spent hurrying up or waiting that I have no inclination to do either these days. I’ve been known to skip dinner rather than wait for a table at restaurant. I recently drove 20 miles out of my way to avoid what was probably a five minute wait at a road construction site. Ha! I showed those jerks!
I know I’m still a few years away from official “geezerdom” but the strange thing is that I’m really starting to understand why old guys do the weird stuff that we always laughed at. It’s perfectly clear to me now that if you eat dinner at 4:30 you’ll completely miss the crowd and never have to wait for a table. Who cares if you’re not hungry, you got a table right away and that’s all that really matters.
I never suspected that driving slow with your blinker on was actually a well thought out strategy to ensure when you’re eventually ready to change lanes you can do so without having to speed up or wait for an opening. Since no one knows when you might actually move over, they avoid that spot. That old guy cruising slowly in the middle lane with his blinker on never hurries, never waits and never hears you honking at him because he has his hearing aid turned off. It’s brilliant!
I’m not quite ready to turn in my pick-up for a Buick sedan with the right turn signal perpetually blinking … but I get it. I’m totally prepared to growl at punks to get off my lawn, but I still can’t see eating dinner before the evening news comes on so I guess I’m still a little wet behind the ear hair … so to speak.
The curmudgeon is coming … but I can wait.
Rick Seley is an award-winning humor columnist. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.