Senior Stories

Resolved: Be Curmudgeonly

Want to live longer?

Keep a pleasant disposition. At least, that’s what the experts say.

I say it just seems longer because it’s so boring being nice all the time.

I will admit, however, that here in my neck of the Florida woods, some sweet old thing celebrates his or her 100th most every day. And never with an ill word for anyone.

That just makes me sick.

Most of us have spent a lifetime being nice. Nice to our parents. Nice to our teachers. Nice to dates. And nice to bosses. Why, we’ve been nice to just about everyone. Even when it hurt.

“Nice” has become a way of life for our generation. Even now that we are retired and don’t have to be nice to anyone, most of us wouldn’t say s**t if we had a mouthful.

Do you realize that at our age being nice is contrary to our natures? Grumpy is our true disposition. And being cranky is what everyone expects.

Smile after 60, and the world is immediately suspicious. Everyone knows that your back aches, your sight is foggy, and you now enjoy the sex drive of a week-old donut.

Suddenly Trivia: What senior organization is known for its cantankerous ways? A. AARP B. Gray Panthers C. American Legion

So, what do you have to smile about, you old coot?

We’re at an age when no matter how pleasant and innocuous we appear, society ignores us anyway, preferring that we, our wrinkles and our funky smells simply disappear, if not from the face of the earth, then at least from the line in front of them at McDonald’s.

What to do?

I propose that you make a New Year’s Resolution to be a curmudgeon.

Finally! A resolution you can keep!

Personally, I’m now working hard at becoming a real pain in the ass.

Lucky for me, there’s plenty to be a pain in the ass about. Wholesale rudeness. Airports. Congress. Telemarketers. Age discrimination. Our broken healthcare system.

Heck, you have your own list. The trick is to do something about it.

As my friend J.C. Spitznagel likes to point out, “Well behaved seniors seldom make history.“

Great minds, from Aristotle to Churchill, all got crankier with age.

Start by getting a bumper sticker saying: “I’M RETIRED. But I work part time being a pain in the butt.”

Bellyache every chance you get.

I don’t recommend freestyle, pissed-at-the-world grouchiness. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as having friends is not a big priority in your life.

Far more effective, however, is to practice righteous indignation against the specific evils on your list. It feels good. And you might accomplish something beneficial for the world.

Let your battle cry be, “Curmudgeonize! Cantankorize! Let no evil go ungrumped!”

If you’re looking for a role model, you won’t find better than Ava Estelle, 81-year-old Australian granny, who was so angered when two thugs raped her 18-year-old granddaughter that she tracked them down, photographed them to show her granddaughter “to make sure as hell it was them,” then returned with a pistol and shot off their testicles.

“I shot ’em right square between the legs, right where it would really hurt ’em most, you know. Then I went right down to the police and turned myself in.”

Said one detective, “It will be difficult to throw an 81-year-old woman in prison, especially when three million people here in Melbourne want to nominate her for sainthood.*”

Nice Granny!

Suddenly Trivia answer: b. Gray Panthers. As founder, Maggie Kuhn, said, “Speak your mind, even if your voice shakes. Well-aimed slingshots can topple giants.”

* Even if it’s only urban legend, it should have happened if it didn’t.

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