Grumpy Old Fart


Grumpy Old Fart by David Macfie

I first decided that grumpiness was a part of my future, when I saw the Disney cartoon of Snow White and the seven Dwarves. For me Grumpy had the best personality of all. Who wouldn’t be bad-tempered and sulky wandering round and singing ‘Hi, Ho. Hi, Ho. It’s off to work we go!’ Especially if the work involved going down into a dirty, dark old mine. If my day started before dawn, and I had to walk to work in that environment, I can assure you that I would not be singing. I would, most definitely, be grumpy.

And then to come home to a tiny cottage, with six other dirty, tired colleagues, and start with the housework and the cooking. I certainly know how many working wives must feel. Yes, you’ve got it – grumpy! It became marginally better for the dwarves when Snow White arrived. At least, the washing and ironing and cleaning and cooking were now done by someone else. But, did she really have to be so insufferably cheerful? From before dawn to sleep time, cheerful every second of the day. Really? ….. All the time? That’s enough to make anyone – you’ve guessed it – grumpy.

So having a solid grounding from that cartoon, my ambition was solidified by the release of the movie “Grumpy Old Men”, with Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. I thought the movie was brilliant and Lemmon was OK. But, Walter’s broken down bloodhound look, gravelly voice and underlying acerbic wit, was a perfect characterization for my imagination to work on. At last, a role model. And guess what? They had to spoil it all by putting out various remakes and a sequel called “Grumpier Old Men.” Being grumpy is an art and, let’s face it, you can get just too much of a good thing.

Anyway, I was now on a path. I felt that I had discovered my true vacation. I would strive to become an absolutely perfect grumpy old man. I started the process in my twenties, and have been practicing ever since. It hasn’t been easy. I mean, I am surrounded by cheerful, positive people. It’s very wearing, all that positivity. How can any self-respecting grump hold to his convictions, when all around, there are influences whittling away at the basic nature of grumpiness, which is that grumps actually enjoy whinging and complaining. Some nations even specialize in it. You can decide for yourself, which ones you think are like that. I will stay quiet on this question but I have my own definite opinions. After all, if any representatives of such nations read my blog, and I’ve made my opinions known, they’ll just post complaints in the comments.

So, I made some rules. Rule one says that every situation can be turned into an opportunity to grump. It’s easy to list such opportunities. My pet hate is politics, the most unnecessary occupation ever invented. It must be the last refuge of the greedy, the lazy, the least competent, the most boring, the most self-serving and corruptible group of humanity, I could possibly imagine. And what makes it worse is that most, if not all, people in politics think they are important and worthy of respect. And, worst of all, they think that they deserve huge salary packages. I can add to this hate a few other hot buttons for grumpiness – politicians, who are oxygen thieves and real thieves. A real waste of time, space and money if ever I saw one; the economy, where prices often go up but never come down; the weather; (Pommies always complain about the weather) traffic and particularly bad drivers, who endanger everyone around them. The list is endless. Rule two – If in doubt, refer to rule one. Rule three – never mind rule three. Rules are boring, anyway.

Throughout my life I’ve practiced hard and taken every opportunity to improve my skills. I’ve grumped on many topics apart from those listed above – my job, my divorce, my health and fitness, my lack of ability to drink all the beer in the world, my ability to swim like a brick, the painful and damaging effects of the saddle of a racing bicycle on the most tender part of my anatomy, the state of world rugby, (Except New Zealand) the new trend, in soccer, for the players to spend more time practicing their artistic dives than on perfecting their footballing skills. As you can see, I have left no stone unturned in my quest to obey rule one. And please, if you can think of anything, and I mean anything, that I have left out, don’t hesitate to contact me.

You can imagine how gob-smacked I was, when I came across a post in the Huffington Post blog site. It was written by a lady called Carol R. Wyer and titled “The Age at Which Men Officially Become Grumpy.” You mean there’s an age restriction? She says that research has shown that the age is seventy. And there’s a syndrome called ‘Grumpy Old Man’ syndrome. I can’t believe it. She gives explanations and reasons – men of that age have become aware of their mortality, they see friends and relatives dying around them, health issues, no more goals in life, significantly reduced testosterone and so on. I think she’s missed the point. If becoming the most perfect grumpy old man isn’t a goal then what is it? Isn’t drinking more beer a goal or is that an objective? It doesn’t matter, it’s something to look forward to, isn’t it? And the real point that she’s missed is the fun of being grumpy. I’ve been looking forward to official recognition of my superior grumpiness and now I find that I’m too young. I will raise a protest with the Grumpy Police. I will write to a politician. I will actually not do those things, but I will be really, really grumpy about it all.

Two thoughts to complete this story. My wife has a fridge magnet that reads, “Some days I wake up grumpy. Others, I just let him sleep!” Any recognition at all is gratefully received. And, finally, for those who are asking why this story is called “Grumpy Old Fart” and not “Grumpy Old Man”? There are two reasons. First, the dictionary defines an old fart as someone who is boring or contemptible. That fits or, at least, the first word does. The last reason is my ability to convert every possible foodstuff or drinks into noxious fumes. I may, or may not, speak on this topic again, when I reach seventy and officially take my place in the Grumpy Hall of Fame.