While remaining in never-never land without a computer and internet for an extended period, the Curmudgeonly Professor had ample time to reflect on deep and weighty subjects of philosophy, Molly's rusty lawn chair, whether I wanted to just quit this blog while the quitting was there for the quitting, why I hauled five boxes of books to St. George and then hauled them back to SLC, why we left the summer sunshine for the winter miseries, and whether the Utah Jazz would resuscitate themselves from defunctness and knock off the Houston Rockets so they can advance to the second round and likely be annihilated by my least favorite player of all time, the one and only Kobe Bryant. But among the weighty topics crossing my mind, one came to the forefront: How can one tell if one is a curmudgeon?
I became concerned as to whether it is just arrogant presumption to call ones self a curmudgeon when, in fact, one is kindly, generous, non-grouchy, cheerful, and currently involved in a twelve-step personal improvement program. No matter that the self-improvement program may have hung around for a few decades and be a tad rusty, but hey, intentions are still critical to the process. On the other hand, once one has named one's self a curmudgeon, and has bounced to the top or near the top of a dozen or so Google crawler categories, does one want to admit that one is not a curmudgeon? What if the professor renamed his blog the Kindly and Cheerful Professor? Would anyone look at it? Would Google have me listed at 389,787th instead of first?
To my knowledge, no scientific standards exist to evaluate curmudgeonliness. The old Monkey Ward catalogues used to classify everything as "Good", "Better", and "Best." Presumably "good" meant that something would last until you wore it a couple of times; "good" would last a couple more times; and "best" might last for a millennium, since Monkey Ward would croak after awhile anyways and one would never be able to reorder. Therefore, let us address the topic, "What constitutes a truly genuine and outstanding curmudgeon?"
First of all, anyone who taught school for forty plus years is not going to be a glowing bundle of sunshine. Students who hacked the professor off 40 years ago are still fresh in his mind, and forgiveness or forgetting about them are not options. Second, trying to keep a computer going will test the limits of one's decency. Third, wondering why my kids all became Republicans and did not follow the wisdom of their parents is a troubling element of life, contributing to curmudgeonliness and doubts about our educational system. Fourth, the Utah Jazz and the Utah Legislature are both sources of worry and aggravation. Fifth, the morons on I-15 who perform dazzling feats of crossing five lanes, just missing five bumpers, two semi trailers, three RVs, and the right front fender of my car should all be segregated in a separate county and be required to drive horses and buggies the rest of their lives. Sixth, my mean cardiologist forced me to have an angiogram even though it turned out I didn't, necessitating that I lie flat on my back for 36 hours. I told her I didn't need one, but no, she thought she knew more than I did although I am clearly a doctor also.
Apparently the nurses at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center have been studying my post on angiograms according to my niece so they will know how to do one in the future. Critical to the process is this: Do not tell the patient they will be flat on their back for a zillion hours ahead of time. Then my mean cardiologist gave me some pills that make me have a stuffy nose, even though she claims other doctors who claim that her pills cause my stuffy nose are nuts and don't know what they are talking about, so half the time I can scarcely breathe. You can see what pitiful shape I am in.
To top it off, Molly, in her comment, says something that sounds Zennish or something about needing to find our inner voice if we want to qualify as a curmudgeon. Really? What is my inner voice? If I have an inner voice, at what age did I acquire it? And if we just clammed up our inner voice, would we have to cease blogging and other trivial activities? As an economist, I feel terrible that my time spent blogging contributes nothing to the Gross Domestic Product, the value of the dollar, the unemployment rate, setting the Fed's discount rate, the trade deficit, or to lead-infested imports from China. Although the chair I am sitting on has a "made in China" label which I did not notice until my Chinese chair broke a caster and I had to turn it over and bang away at it awhile and offer a few threats and words of encouragement to install the new caster. I wonder how much lead was in the dust from the crushed caster? Point to ponder.
Well, my exercise in self-administered therapy has not contributed one whit to my understanding and belief that I am a curmudgeon. Actually, the solution to the problem is simple: With nearly 500 posts under the banner of the Curmudgeonly Professor, all of them would have to be reentered if I changed my name to the Kindly Professor. So I guess that settles it. Only my readers can assess whether I am sufficiently grouchy, complain creatively enough, and spread enough gloom and doom to be a genuine Curmudgeon. If not, I will just have to continue faking it.