Limits to Curmudgeonhood?

 

In a conversation last month, the subject of curmudgeonhood came up. There were some advocates of a minimum age restriction that would start somewhere around fifty. In short, their view was that curmudgeonhood was earned through experience.

My dictionary’s* definition of curmudgeon is: “A surly, ill-mannered, bad-tempered person; cantankerous fellow.”

Alright, given that definition, maybe curmudgeonhood is nothing to aspire to, but I also notice that there is no age limit given or implied. I’ve known two-year-olds who qualify. Actually, I suspect almost all two-year-olds qualify by that definition.

Of course, not every working definition of a word is the same as the published definition. Many think more of a lovable curmudgeon: a crabby, older person who shouts, “Get off my lawn.” The sort of person Clint Eastwood has morphed into playing as he has aged.

Another factor in curmudgeonhood as the cultural working definition exists is intelligence. I have not been able to find it after extensive searches, but my memory tells me there was a scientific article a few years back that showed that curmudgeons were often more intelligent than their peers. The curmudgeon sees someone proposing this “great new idea,” and says, “It’s been tried before many times, and failed every time.” This takes some combination of intelligence and experience, but would the lower age limit, if any, be different for someone with an average IQ vs. someone who was outside the 95% normal? What about for someone whose IQ was way off the scale? Would he be able to come to curmudgeonhood at a younger age? Would it be different for those who gained knowledge of human nature via reading history or in other vicarious ways rather than those who have gained their experience through suffering the slings and arrows of being around normal humans?

So, what do you think, Ricochetois? What is a curmudgeon? Are there age limits? Are curmudgeons born or made? If made, what creates a curmudgeon?

* Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language Second Edition (1980)

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  1. Owen Findy Member
    Owen Findy
    @OwenFindy

    Are curmudgeons born or made?

    I’d say about 50% born, 50% made, with the bias in the “born” direction.  Part of the reason I’m crabby is that other people don’t often enough color inside the lines I’d like to see them color inside of.  I was born that way, I think.

    FOLLOW THE DOGGONE LINES

    • #61
  2. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Owen Findy:“

    I’d say about 50% born, 50% made, with the bias in the “born” direction. Part of the reason I’m crabby is that other people don’t often enough color inside the lines I’d like to see them color inside of. I was born that way, I think.

    FOLLOW THE DOGGONE LINES

    I hope that picture is a bad example not to be followed.

    • #62
  3. Blue State Curmudgeon Inactive
    Blue State Curmudgeon
    @BlueStateCurmudgeon

    As a self-styled curmudgeon, I can say with certainty that, while age and experience help, there is no minimum standards for curmudgeonhood.  The only real requirement is to be consistently and forcefully intolerant of the foolish and shallow aspects of our culture.  Yes, intolerance in defense of curmudgeonhood is no vice.

    • #63
  4. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Blue State Curmudgeon:Yes, intolerance in defense of curmudgeonhood is no vice.

    On of the reasons I love Ricochet is the wonderful way the Ricochetois have with words and paraphrasing.

    • #64
  5. Owen Findy Member
    Owen Findy
    @OwenFindy

    Arahant:

    Owen Findy:“

    I’d say about 50% born, 50% made, with the bias in the “born” direction. Part of the reason I’m crabby is that other people don’t often enough color inside the lines I’d like to see them color inside of. I was born that way, I think.

    FOLLOW THE DOGGONE LINES

    I hope that picture is a bad example not to be followed.

    It makes my hair stand on end to look at it and contemplate cutting it that way, but, whether it’s an objectively bad thing depends on the purpose of the slicer.

    • #65
  6. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Owen Findy:

    Arahant:

    Owen Findy:“

    I’d say about 50% born, 50% made, with the bias in the “born” direction. Part of the reason I’m crabby is that other people don’t often enough color inside the lines I’d like to see them color inside of. I was born that way, I think.

    FOLLOW THE DOGGONE LINES

    I hope that picture is a bad example not to be followed.

    It makes my hair stand on end to look at it and contemplate cutting it that way, but, whether it’s an objectively bad thing depends on the purpose of the slicer.

    Maybe the rules are different for cakes than for pies:

    • #66
  7. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Arahant:

    Blue State Curmudgeon:Yes, intolerance in defense of curmudgeonhood is no vice.

    On of the reasons I love Ricochet is the wonderful way the Ricochetois have with words and paraphrasing.

    And I love that you’ve eschewed “Team Ricochetti” for “Team Ricochetoisie”.

    Welcome to the Dark Side. We have cookies.

    • #67
  8. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Blue State Curmudgeon:The only real requirement is to be consistently and forcefully intolerant of the foolish and shallow aspects of our culture.

    As a fan of Erasmus I was about to argue in vociferous opposition to this “requirement”, but then I realized that “foolishness” and “folly” are two different things.

    ;-)

    • #68
  9. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Arahant:

    The King Prawn:If this were real it would be the official curmudgeon vehicle of choice:

    V5qYiSk

    Why is that? I think a lot of curmudgeons would like pick-up trucks. We also have some female curmudgeons. (Of course, they might like that car.)

    Looks a lot like the Green Hornet’s car to me.

    Green Hornet Black Beauty

    • #69
  10. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Misthiocracy:And I love that you’ve eschewed “Team Ricochetti” for “Team Ricochetoisie”.Welcome to the Dark Side. We have cookies.

    Your suggestion that mixing the French with Italian made sense, although it isn’t like we don’t do that in lots of other cases.

    • #70
  11. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Arahant:

    Misthiocracy:And I love that you’ve eschewed “Team Ricochetti” for “Team Ricochetoisie”.Welcome to the Dark Side. We have cookies.

    Your suggestion that mixing the French with Italian made sense, although it isn’t like we don’t do that in lots of other cases.

    Maybe you drink Soave with your bourguignon. Me, I keep my French and Italian separate.

    ;-)

    • #71
  12. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Misthiocracy:Maybe you drink Soave with your bourguignon. Me, I keep my French and Italian separate.;-)

    I don’t drink either. I don’t eat the cookies, either.

    I was thinking specifically about some word I had recently encountered that had a Greek prefix and Latin suffix. I can’t remember the word at the moment.

    • #72
  13. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Promoted to the Main Feed? Hey, you whippersnappers, get off our lawn! Or join Ricochet, and you could have gotten into this conversation before there were seventy-three comments.

    • #73
  14. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Excuse me… I was looking for the curmudgeon thread and seem to have wandered into the Chix PIT by accident.

    Pictures of cakes and pies and cookies and whatnot – you’ll all be sitting in a circle drinking cocoa and doing each others’ hair next.

    • #74
  15. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    As I crop dusted a Walmart today I wondered if breaking wind in public without caring who knows is part of the curmudgeon’s art…

    • #75
  16. user_352043 Moderator
    user_352043
    @AmySchley

    Arahant:

    Misthiocracy:Maybe you drink Soave with your bourguignon. Me, I keep my French and Italian separate.;-)

    I don’t drink either. I don’t eat the cookies, either.

    I was thinking specifically about some word I had recently encountered that had a Greek prefix and Latin suffix. I can’t remember the word at the moment.

    Polyamory?

    And yes, there are female curmudgeons. I’ve lost track of the times I’ve been told I have an “old soul.” As far as I can tell, that mostly means I think modern morals are hipposcat, to quote iWc.

    • #76
  17. Ryan M Member
    Ryan M
    @RyanM

    I had a conversation today with a friend while we were sitting in court.  I was telling her about ricochet, and saying that if Ricochetti were to meet me in real life, and they didn’t ask “oh, you’re a ricochet member?” they would likely be surprised by how happy and friendly I generally am.  But I’m a somewhat overly emotional person in an emotionally draining job…  sometimes the way to stay positive is to let all the negative out on paper.

    I happen to think that we are perfectly capable of having an inner curmudgeon.  It’s actually a really good thing to have – that’s the guy who keeps us in check.

    • #77
  18. kylez Member
    kylez
    @kylez

    J Flei:I became a grouchy old man at about 17. When the OJ Simpson not guilty verdict came down, I was in high school, and that somehow catapulted me into becoming a cantankerous cynic.

    I will never forget being in a ninth grade class as one of two suburban white boys amongst a class full of kids from the other side of town, who were mostly black or Hispanic. Many of them laughed at Fred Goldman, and virtually all believed OJ was innocent. Very soon after, I had my nice two-month-old Schwinn Beach Cruiser bike stolen from me on my way home from school by a black male. Two or three black males across the street laughed as I had naively ran across the street shouting “give me my bike back!”

    • #78
  19. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    kylez:I will never forget being in a ninth grade class as one of two suburban white boys amongst a class full of kids from the other side of town, who were mostly black or Hispanic. Many of them laughed at Fred Goldman, and virtually all believed OJ was innocent. Very soon after, I had my nice two-month-old Schwinn Beach Cruiser bike stolen from me on my way home from school by a black male. Two or three black males across the street laughed as I had naively ran across the street shouting “give me my bike back!”

    And is that when you became a curmudgeon? Or are you one yet?

    • #79
  20. user_656019 Coolidge
    user_656019
    @RayKujawa

    Misthiocracy:

    Arahant:

    The King Prawn:If this were real it would be the official curmudgeon vehicle of choice:

    Why is that? I think a lot of curmudgeons would like pick-up trucks. We also have some female curmudgeons. (Of course, they might like that car.)

    Looks a lot like the Green Hornet’s car to me.

    I think a died in the wool curmudgeon would drive a Plymouth full size, like maybe a 1976-77 Grand Fury. Something that hasn’t been produced in years. From before the oil embargo. With awful gas mileage. Something without a sissy front wheel drive.

    640px-Pymouth_GRAN_FURY

    (the site I stole this from recommended I attribute it as: “Pymouth GRAN FURY” by Granfury – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pymouth_GRAN_FURY.png#mediaviewer/File:Pymouth_GRAN_FURY.png)

    • #80
  21. user_656019 Coolidge
    user_656019
    @RayKujawa

    Of course, that’s what they might have wanted to drive, but due to the high prices of gas, this is what my dad ended up buying when the 1957 Belvedere bought the farm:

    1973_pinto_squire

    When you have to suffer less than optimum choices due to circumstances, I tend to think it builds your curmudgeonly character.

    (forever known by the neighborhood mechanic who worked on Plymouths and Dodges as the Ford ‘Pinko.’)

    • #81
  22. user_656019 Coolidge
    user_656019
    @RayKujawa

    What do you know. The 1973 Ford Pinto didn’t come with front wheel drive either. I suppose I should have remembered. It’s what I got my first driver’s license in.

    • #82
  23. user_656019 Coolidge
    user_656019
    @RayKujawa

    I am not a curmudgeon. I’ve lived too charmed a life to be one. But my mother and father were definitely curmudgeons. So I offer my comments. They were probably both curmudgeons by the time they were 50, my dad more so than my mom.

    • #83
  24. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Ray Kujawa:I am not a curmudgeon. I’ve lived too charmed a life to be one. But my mother and father were definitely curmudgeons. So I offer my comments. They were probably both curmudgeons by the time they were 50, my dad more so than my mom.

    I’ve lived a fairly charmed life, and I’m still a curmudgeon.

    • #84
  25. lesserson Member
    lesserson
    @LesserSonofBarsham

    I think I suffer from early onset curmudgeon-ess. Odds are it’s about 80% inherited and 20% of looking at stuff over the last decade or so and thinking “I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.”

    • #85
  26. Blue State Curmudgeon Inactive
    Blue State Curmudgeon
    @BlueStateCurmudgeon

    Arahant:

    Blue State Curmudgeon:Yes, intolerance in defense of curmudgeonhood is no vice.

    On of the reasons I love Ricochet is the wonderful way the Ricochetois have with words and paraphrasing.

    Thanks, but even a blind squirrel finds an acorn once in a while :)

    • #86
  27. Owen Findy Member
    Owen Findy
    @OwenFindy

    Misthiocracy:

    Maybe the rules are different for cakes than for pies:

    Thank you ever so much for that.  Outstanding!

    • #87
  28. Z in MT Member
    Z in MT
    @ZinMT

    @Boss Mongo,
    Thanks for the clip, my nephew was named after Robert Duvall’s character. I guess he must be destined for curmudgeonhood.

    • #88
  29. MJBubba Inactive
    MJBubba
    @MJBubba

    I have been in serious training to become a curmudgeon since I was in high school.   Snooks says I was a success by the time she met me in college.

    I am perilously close to being a grumpy old man.

    At church I am the quasi-official grumpy Elder, even though half the Board of Elders are older.

    So, I recognize myself.

    • #89
  30. user_656019 Coolidge
    user_656019
    @RayKujawa

    Arahant:

    Ray Kujawa:I am not a curmudgeon. I’ve lived too charmed a life to be one. But my mother and father were definitely curmudgeons. So I offer my comments. They were probably both curmudgeons by the time they were 50, my dad more so than my mom.

    I’ve lived a fairly charmed life, and I’m still a curmudgeon.

    In your case, that’s part of the joy of living.

    • #90
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