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Becoming a Curmudgeon


I’m 57.  How did I become a curmudgeon?  I’m not sure I’m a curmudgeon, but at the very least I’m a grumpy old man.  It seems as though all my most anti-social traits are getting stronger.  I can’t stand noise, so I certainly couldn’t raise kids.  If the phone rings, it is probably an interruption.  And do I really have to go out and mingle with people; by and large they just make me angry.  After all, I have to be in bed around 9:30.

Is this a natural progression, happening to all of us?  Is it just a result of the times in which we live?  Or is it some confluence of both.  My best friend and I talked about this recently. 

When we were kids, we loved getting phone calls.  We would stop whatever we were doing and rush to the phone.  Yep my friend.  Basketball?  Sure, be there in 20 minutes (the time it took me to bike the hilly Vermont miles to his house).  But now, that interruption isn’t so easy.  I’ll just let it go to voice mail; they’ll leave me a message.  I can get back to them tomorrow.  Maybe I’ll talk to their voice mail then.  Now Brandon, my daughter, and I text message every day.  That isn’t an interruption at all.  She’ll read it when she gets to it, as will I.  Voice mail and texting didn’t exist when I was a kid.  Miss the call, you missed an opportunity, not an interruption.  I say this one goes primarily in the column of the times, although a low tolerance for interruptions might be part of aging.

What about being in crowds?  It seems to me that there may be fewer crowds than there used to be; we relate more through technology than in person.  So I have to put this in the natural progression category.  Perhaps some of what is bothering me with crowds is people’s behavior.  As an example, I was taught you aren’t supposed to wear your hat in the house or, by extension, in the car.  Growing up I see all these people doing that.  Now as we grow older, we are supposed to acquire wisdom.  So of course these people wearing hats will gain wisdom and stop doing that.  Instead there are more.  And what about kids running around in restaurants?  When we were kids it was rare for parents to bring their kids to a restaurant.  And they sure weren’t supposed to run around all over.  But now there are kids everywhere, making noise in restaurants, under the feet of the servers.  And we all smile.  Bah humbug, I say!  So maybe it is just not getting wiser as we get older, but having to deal with things that are changed in ways that we don’t want to accept.

Humor aside, I do think there is something to the expectation that we will gain wisdom and knowledge as we get older and change our behavior.  And that just doesn’t happen in the ways that we hope.  I will just have to curtail my curmudgeonly ways!


  1. I’m boarding the Curmudgeon Express at the next station! It seems that there’s too much activity these days … no one sits on their front porch, sipping lemonade or ice tea chatting with neighbors or family. Everyone is in a rush to get somewhere …. anywhere. I find with the use of technology, I have less patience since everything is instant gratification. Parents seems to believe that they must have their children enrolled in every sport, musicial lesson, horse back riding, whatever is the “flavor of the day” activity instead of simply letting them be children. There are no neighborhood baseball games without adult supervisor; heaven forbid someone’s feelings get hurt or the outfielder misses the ball! Kids need to be kids and parents need to be parents — my child has plenty of friends but only one mom.

  2. Society has changed, not many people socialize outside of night clubs and work. I don’t do nigh clubs, and I don’t want to stay at work 24/7, so, I’ve given up my self, I stopped calling people all together as no one picks up and no one calls back.. SO, I just drop my phone and do my own thing, alone. It will only get worse, plus, baby boomers getting to that age, so even less socializing, grumpy grumpy.. I love life, I love to be around it all, I love to be around people, and I love to hang out with buddies, but I can’t help that not many people feel the same. oh well.

  3. as the aforementioned old friend, i have to disagree a bit. The social science research says that we can all retreat and our minds become more rigid as we age IF we are not in much social flow. I’ve certainly seen that happen to me.
    But the corrollary of that is that human contact/love, physical contact, and especially LEARNING turn our brains into a sinously vibrant pile of neurons remapping and changing and being more happy (The Brain the Changes Itself by Norman Doidge). For that reason, some recommend immersive learning of a new language during one’s 70s and 80s.
    the question for me is not technology vs. front porch, though i do love front porches and hang out on mine during summer mornings. It is whether the hunger tha JaimeS describes for human contact is there, and whether it can be met. AND whether it is positive contact, BTW.
    Two mind exercises i’ve done recently– semi-randomly select three numbers from my phone directory and call them up– usually there is something quite nice to say to them, IF you don’t have an agenda (even called David Adams like this). Similarly, being open to conversation in the world means responding to eyes and smiles and being friendly. Most people don’t want conversation, but enough do to have some nice conversations

  4. forgot i’d replied pompously before. Sorry.

    i enjoy having strong desires AND trying to align with others. “i go to sleep @ 9:30pm, you wakeup @ 2pm… is it worth getting together for tennis occasionally?”

    and sometimes it might be conversing with thineself, “why is it that one shouldn’t wear a hat in a car? is that my issue or is it important in the world?”

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