It takes a curmudgeon to know one

It takes a curmudgeon to know one
My trusty Webster's Dictionary defines curmudgeon as a "cantankerous fellow."

My vote for Chief Curmudgeon goes to Andy Rooney, featured weekly in CBS's Sixty Minutes."

He earns that honor because he's so irascible in his short segment at the end of the program when he debunks all the things that we hold dear.

He comes by it honestly as he's a cranky World War II vet who picks on every little thing we've come to take for granted: like hard-to-open containers, child-proof lids, difficult grocery labels, multiple auto gimmicks, computer nerds, prescribed pills and an endless variety of potions, etc.

Andy � the testy one � pooh-poohs politicians, doctors, used-car salesmen, bankers, insurance peddlers and defenseless farmers with equal abandon. No one is safe from his acidic tongue.

For instance, recently he even took on the milk producers, who wonder why people don't drink more moo juice. "I'll tell you why!" he said. Then he went on to explain it's because they spend so much time and money promoting stuff a cow wouldn't recognize.

"All the folks want is the real thing, and they can't find it when shelves are packed with 2% milk, 1% milk, non-fat milk, fortified milk and lots of combinations which their marketing whizzes tell them the public will buy."

I'm paraphrasing Rooney's words. but that's the gist of his remarks.

By the way, Phyllis thinks I'm a curmudgeon, too � because I'm a grouchy old bear, especially when she wakes me up. She knows how to hurt a guy, but I digress.

Another curmudgeon worthy of note was Mark Twain, a name for his byline he later chose. In his dotage he was particularly huffy and ill-tempered. It probably had something to do with his lousy investments, but I wouldn't know about that. However � despite his churlishness � you could never tell it in his writing, for he was a humorist without peer.

When he was a young man in Nevada Territory, he was a disgruntled gold-seeker before he wrote several funny pieces for the Territorial Enterprise which he signed simply "Josh." Apparently that was the beginning of the dual personality that colored his later life: a humorist with his pen but a peevish individual otherwise.

Needless to say, that mixed-up characteristic qualified him as a "cantankerous fellow."

President Coolidge was also a curmudgeon as "Silent Cal." Unlike Twain, he didn't believe in wasting words, and he didn't either! He'd have been good fodder for Andy Rooney, but I digress again.

Come to think of it, we're short of curmudgeons these days. The likes of Wallace Berry, Fred Allen and even Oscar Wilde are gone; but, according to Phyllis, I'm here to take their place.

I read somewhere that a little surliness would add years to your life: that grumps live longer than cheerful guys.

When I point that out to my wife, she exclaimed: "Oh, good! In that case you should make it to at least 300!"

In her way of thinking, that makes me a curmudgeon, too!

� 2005 Robert F. Karolevitz

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