As I survive one of the coldest winters in memory, made all the more so by the lack of proper hair covering on top, my thoughts wander back to the kick the can days and grumpy old men. A logical question for me at this point in my life is, why do some of us become grumpy old men and will I know if I start to become one myself? Or worse yet, am I one already? Thinking back to our youth, I believe most of us can remember one neighbor or two who fell into the Grumpy Old Men category. The neighbor who was quick to shake a warning finger at us when his yard took center stage during a heated game of hide and seek. The one who turned all the outside lights on and sat on his porch with a menacing look as we tried to play flashlight tag. Whole block pom was cut short by the need to avoid this neighbor’s yard checkered with little white wire garden fences strategically placed, not to protect the flowers, but in the runner’s way. In fact, for a good portion of my youth, I was certain a grumpy old man was a neighborhood requirement.
Approaching the requisite grumpy age, I wonder if grumpiness is something you grow into and how, if so, do you know? Is the process slow or does it happen quickly? Do grumpy old men snap over something small and then hunker down to spend their last years being generally disagreeable with everyone they meet? I have many questions, but very few answers in this area. I am assuming most men do not consciously decide to be grumpy in their old age. Seems kind of a strange way to spend the twilight years. But, if there is at least one on each city block, a number of us must be heading down this path.
The scary thing about the “at least one per block rule” is what happens if I find myself as the only old man on the block. Am I obligated to carry the grumpy banner? Do I need to give up any hopes of summer golf so that I can man my grumpy post 24/7 lest some teenage boy cut through my yard on his bike; or worse yet, have my backyard be on the outskirts of a kick the can game? If so, seems like a move to an older neighborhood is in order.
Also, is there some kind of secret society where the tools of the trade are passed down from generation to generation? Are there grumpy tutors teaching grumpy old men the proper grumpy techniques? Do they teach the scowl, the first shake, the swinging of the cane, and how to put the local police on speed dial? Do they help us find the local barber specializing in the wild hair haircut? Does a member of this secret society rap on your door early one morning and let you know it is your time? Or, maybe in this era, it is an e-mail, or a text, or a tweet, or a snap chat, or ,worse yet, a friend request that sends the invite. All of this starts to make the old Florida retirement communities just that much more attractive. After all, the only purpose for the Grumpy Old Men Society is to take the fun out of children at play. No children at play- no need for grumpy old men.
I, for one, certainly hope I can avoid having my older years filed with grumpiness. I will do what I can, to avoid the calls from members of the society and I ask my children to please let me know if I start heading over the edge to grumpy land. We need to get the children outside once again, anxious to kick the can, hit that baseball over the neighbor’s bushes, and toss a Frisbee so far, that horrors, it lands on the neighbor’s roof. Let’s get our children to put the video game controllers and smartphones aside and venture outdoors once again without fear of Grumpy Old Men.