Opinion: Here’s something to grump about

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I’m about to turn 75. I’ve always wanted to be a grumpy old man. Through the years, I thought I had made a lot of headway in this area, especially in the getting older part.

My father was a grumpy old man by the time he was 60 and I aspired to be just like him. But I wanted to do it even sooner.

I tried to be a grumpy old man when I was in my 40s. But sadly, people misunderstood my crankiness. I complained to the manager at Kroger that the entrance and exit doors were on the wrong sides. “I’ll never shop here again,” I told him. “I don’t know if I’m coming or going.” But did he call me grumpy? No, he burst out laughing — and told me I should have used that line on TV.

In my 50s, I once protested to a couple of Girl Scouts who came to the door selling cookies that their product was too high in sugar and that eating S’mores would shoot my lipids through the roof. Their mothers called and thanked me, saying this was a good health lesson for 11-year-olds. Maybe I shouldn’t have bought three boxes.

I did everything I could to become a grumpy old man before my time. Nothing worked. I don’t know how my dad did it with such ease. It was a gift.

Last year, I complained to some neighbors about their unkempt lawns. I fussed at others who put their garbage at the curb two days early, and I yelled at kids shooting hoops on Sunday mornings when I was trying to sleep. This had codger written all over it. They made me president of the homeowners’ association.

When does one officially become a grumpy old man? I combed my AARP magazines for hints, but apparently their readers try to avoid this label rather than celebrate it. I called the periodical to grumble about their lack of coverage on this and complained in the most crotchety way I could. “We welcome your feedback,” she told me. “Please call again.”

Most people won’t call you a grumpy old man to your face. They just think it.

“Did you get my email birthday card, Dick?” asked my friend David, a few days after my 74th birthday.

“Yes, I did. I find email greeting cards annoying. They lack creativity and it takes forever for them to download.”

“Why, you, you …”

“Go on David, say it. Please!”

“OK, you, you … you probably have a good point. I should have taken the time to go to the store and buy you a nice Hallmark card, instead.”

Even my closest friends won’t cooperate.

Maybe I don’t have the right “look.” I’m going to stop trimming my nose hair and start hoisting my pants up to my ribcage. That might help.


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