“A Few Good Grumps” by Jon Winoker   1 comment

The link to the AARP Magazine, November-December 2003 article “A few Good Grumps” by Jon Winoker went a little limp, so I did hunt it down, and as it was a little obscure to find, have licked it and sticked it here. An easy find, and an easy read.

Enjoy …

We call curmudgeons “irascible”, “grouchy”, “grumpy” — even “mean.” But the world needs curmudgeons. They refuse to see life through the filter of wishful thinking and are outspoken in their devotion to the harsh realities of life. They protect the rest of us, stumbling about blindly behind our rose-colored glasses, from ourselves.

Still, these are touchy times for curmudgeons. In an age of fast food intellect, when crudity is mistaken for cleverness, the articulate, witty curmudgeon seems out of place. Try to imagine such saber-tongued cynics as Mark Twain, James Thurber, Dorothy Parker, and H.L. Mencken grousing about America in the year 2003.

Curmudgeons aren’t just funny or just mean. Part of what makes a curmudgeon is an almost allergic reaction to injustice. When confronted with it, he responds with two powerful weapons: disgust and sarcasm. His excruciating sensitivity to life’s countless insults — even those that may not be intentional — is both a curse and sustenance for his muse. A woman once told James Thurber that she’d read a French translation of his My Life and Hard Times, adding, “The book is much better in French.” Thurber replied, “Yes, my work tends to lose something in the original.”

Curmudgeons are classic outsiders — they instinctively distrust conventional wisdom and challenge authority. They are proudly and aggressively out of touch with the pop culture. They don’t read “relationship” books, don’t carry pagers, and don’t have TiVo. They don’t do pilates, feng shui, or aromatherapy. Curmudgeons never watch “Must See TV.” They know the very term is an oxymoron.

Curmudgeons harbour no illusions — something that allows them to think clearly. They howl against clichés because they prize originality. Take Dorothy Parker’s response when a woman informed her, “I really can’t come to your party. I can’t bear fools.” Answered Parker: “That’s strange, your mother could.”

If curmudgeons are occasionally testy, it’s partly because they bear a terrific burden. They don’t hate sinners, just sins. They don’t hate humankind, just humankind’s excesses. Though many would probably insist it’s the world at large that brings out their delightfully dark side, many will fess up to — gasp! — a buried sentimental core. Says comedian Phillis Diller, “We turn our emotional wounds into humor and if we weren’t laughing, we’d be crying. We’re sad for the world.” A curmudgeon tries desperately to have a sense of hope but is surrounded by people who are trying to take the wind out of his sails.

Political correctness — denying or softening obvious truths in the interest of good will and harmony — is an elephant-size target for any good curmudgeon. “I don’t think everyone is created equal,” writes famously testy Fran Lebowitz. “In fact, I know they’re not. [The Constitution] means that everyone should have the same laws as everyone else. It doesn’t mean that everyone’s as smart or as cute or as lucky as everyone else!”

Winokur concludes the curmudgeon sensibility is an oyster’s pearl produced by the grit of existence. Curmudgeons maintain their balance in a universe gone mad. “When I was younger I thought it was me, but now I know it’s the world that needs fixing,” says one veteran curmudgeon on the eve of her 60th birthday.

The beauty of it is, curmudgeons expect the worst, but they keep on playing. That’s why the curmudgeon is the ultimate adult.

—Jon Winokur is the author of various books on curmudgeonry, including the bestselling Portable Curmudgeon and the recently published Traveling Curmudgeon. The above is an abbreviated version of “A Few Good Grumps” by Winokur appearing in The AARP Magazine, November-December 2003.

Just for the hey of it for anyone interested in seeing what Jon Winoker has written, I’ll throw down the link to his materials on Amazon dot com’s page … 



Posted March 27, 2012 by Archie ~Grumps~

One response to ““A Few Good Grumps” by Jon Winoker

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  1. Pingback: ~ Curmudgeon My Azz!! ~ « ~ Archie's Bunker ~

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