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The other day someone asked me why I didn't go out and find myself a man. After I stopped laughing this person went on to say that it was kind of tragic that a good looking woman like myself was alone.
“Why?” I asked, “Would it be less tragic if I were ugly?”
Statements like that annoy me. First of all, why is there some correlation between being attractive and attached? Secondly, Why do people assume that I either need a man, want one, or both? I can't help believing that to most people, being alone must be tantamount to a death sentence. I get this, I suppose, but I do not find it so. I have been unattached for almost 20 years and I can't honestly say that I have found those years particularly tragic or unbearably painful.
I usually end these kinds of ridiculous conversations with some flip remark, like, “I've had a few men and frankly, they didn't agree with me.” Some people can be easily deflected by one-liners like this, but some just can't leave it alone. These are the people who assume that I must be terribly lonely and crying myself to sleep every night. Then there are those who just appear to be curious and confused. I know that I am generally consider a rather nice human being and since no one has ever for a moment thought that I might bat from the other side of the plate as it were, they are unable to understand why being alone might actually be a choice that I have consciously made. Because I am by nature a deeply private person, I have no intention of explaining myself to anyone in any detail, so I usually just think of something to say that will throw them off and confuse them even more.
“The problem is,” I responded to this latest query as to my aloneness, “so many men my age are grumpy.” Sometimes I add, “and they are all looking for 30 year olds,” but not this time.
“Not all older men are grumpy,” huffed my inquisitor.
“No,” I agreed, “but a lot of them are.” The exception to this rule may be the one's who are disgustingly wealthy and have managed to buy themselves a 30 year old, of course.
“Let's face it,” I continued, “a lot of older men are miserably, perennially, habitually, 'get off my lawn' grumpy.”
This person suggested that perhaps, they might be less grumpy if they had someone like me in their lives.
I responded that not only was it entirely possible that having me around would make them even more grumpy, but I was neither inclined nor desired to test the theory by taking up with some growling ogre and waiting to see if he lightened up any.
On reflection, it occurs to me that there are actually 3 kinds of older man grumpy. There are some men who are just plain wretchedly annoyed and intolerant a lot of the time. Then there are guys who can be pleasant enough some of the time, but will suddenly turn into hard core grumps if they don't get their sandwich, a recliner, and uninterrupted hours of some sporting event. Then there are curmudgeons. Curmudgeons occupy a category of their own because they somehow manage to make grumpiness into something that can be both charming and amusing. I have a brother who is a charming curmudgeon and to be perfectly honest, if he weren't so incredibly entertaining I might be tempted to occasionally smack him soundly. There are, naturally, older men who are not grumpy at all, bless their hearts, but I suspect that they are in the minority. Like Santa Clause, who I might actually date if it were not for that funky red suit and the bowl full of jelly thing. Also, all those elves. That's a lot of tiny baggage.
Don't get me wrong, I love men. I grew up with 3 brothers, have always had lots of male friends, had the usually array of romantic relationships, which, although largely disappointing in the end, definitely had their moments. I certainly know some men in my age group who are not grumpy and I am terribly fond of them. Of course, since I don't live with any of them, I have no idea if they are happy-go-lucky out in the world and then get their grumpy on when they get home. It can happen.
There are grumpy older women also, of course. I know a few. I only mention this to be fair but I don't worry too much about them since no one is suggesting I run out and marry one of them.
This is my message to the grumps. If you miss a game or someone walks on your lawn, it isn't worth getting ugly about. If you don't get that sandwich it won't kill you, it might even prevent that bowl full of jelly problem. If your wife forces you to go on vacation to some tropical place you don't want to go, just shut up and enjoy it and be glad that you can go anywhere, and if you get to wake up one more day above ground, you've got a perfectly good reason not to be grumpy.
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