I never really pictured myself becoming the stereotypical “crotchety old man” back when I was a wee nipper and “old” meant anything over the age of about, oh, say, 25. But now that I’ve moved to within spitting distance of the “Big 5-0,” I’ve come to the conclusion that becoming crotchety must be not only something of an inevitability but, in fact, a badge of honor.
I remember my parents telling me when I was younger that people pretty much earn the right to get persnickety once they’ve accumulated a certain amount of mileage in their lives. I don’t recall how the subject came up; I’m sure one or both of them had expressed an opinion on some burning issue or another and I, in the overconfidence of youth, questioned why they felt the way they did. All I remember now is that they were roughly the same age I am now when they shared this particular observation, so I’m pretty sure I’m safe in assuming that I’ve reached the stage in life where I, too, can behave accordingly.
And if not, well, just don’t bother telling me so. Part of being a crotchety old man is enjoying the act of thumbing one’s nose at those who say one hasn’t the right to be crotchety. Some might call this a sign of immaturity, but I beg to differ. I was immature once, too, and this is a lot different. And in some ways a lot more fun...
At first the realization that my tolerance level for some of the little nitpicky things one has to contend with on a daily basis was a tad unsettling. I’ve always liked to think of myself as patient, thoughtful, contemplative, and at least a few of the other qualities my teachers used to tell me would come with wisdom and maturity. But I’ve noticed as I grow older that not only do certain little things bother me a lot more than they used to, but I actually kind of enjoy it when they do.
It’s actually kind of exhilarating to blow off a good head of steam about trivial matters every now and then. It clears the mind and gets the blood pumping. It gives the rest of the family something to talk about at reunions. It provides the chance to remind the rest of the world that, dad-gummit, what I think matters. To me, if not to others.
Of course it is wise to endeavor to not abuse the privilege. Otherwise you might not be there when the rest of the family is talking about it at the reunion – because they have either not invited you, or else you’ve blown one gasket too many and the next reunion is taking place at your funeral.
I’ve learned to recognize the signs that indicate I’ve blown off all the steam I need to at any given moment. There’s a certain expression that comes over my wife’s face that always makes me think she’s going to hurl a peanut butter jar at the back of my head the next time I turn my back...
I don’t know about the rest of you fellas, but my wife can throw a pretty mean peanut butter jar when she really puts her mind to it. I can’t prove it, but I’m reasonably certain my mother must have taken her aside and given her some coaching at some point during our wedding rehearsal dinner. Probably while I was over on the other side of the room refereeing the wrestling match between Greg Burgess and my brother Jimmy over that last slice of pizza...
The constant threat of spousal retribution notwithstanding, I readily admit that I have come to derive a certain amount of obnoxious pleasure from overreacting to minor little annoyances that, in the grand scheme of things, aren’t really worth overreacting to.
Like those television commercials when some pitchman or another tells you, “If we don’t have it, you don’t need it.” I know it shouldn’t but, boy, that really irritates me. Listen, buster, if I didn’t need it I wouldn’t be looking for it. And if you don’t have it, you don’t get my business. Get it?
Or people who just can’t seem to wrap their head around a concept as simple as the proper way to use an apostrophe. I mean, come on, knowing the difference between plural and possessive is NOT rocket science, people.
Or TV networks that yank an interesting new drama off the air after only two episodes, but keep bringing back mind-rotting tripe like Big Brother or The Batchelor over and over and over...
And what about all those silly “awkward moment” comments that people keep posting on Facebook? After being inundated with a batch of new ones the other day, I got fed up and posted one of my own that read: “...That awkward moment when you realize that all those ‘awkward moments’ people keep posting are pretty lame compared to a few you've actually lived through over the years, but you know enough to keep quiet about them because nobody really wants to know about that kind of stuff in the first place so why does everybody else keep posting them?”
Two or three people pressed “Like.” I guess everyone else just decided that I was being a crotchety old man.
They were right. And I loved every minute of it...
(Copyright © 2013, by John A. Small)
In : Life
Tags: life aging