Sometimes just acknowledging the cranky, bilious soul is more effective than drowning it in bland sweetisms. Perhaps I liked Jon Winokur’s portable curmudgeon because of that.
As Jon Winokur sees it –
“A curmudgeon’s reputation for malevolence is undeserved. They’re neither warped nor evil at heart. They don’t hate mankind, just mankind’s absurdities. They’re just as sensitive and soft-hearted as the next guy, but they hide their vulnerability beneath a crust of misanthropy. They ease the pain by turning hurt into humor. They attack maudlinism because it devalues genuine sentiment. Nature, having failed to equip them with a serviceable denial mechanism, has endowed them with astute perception and sly wit.
Curmudgeons are mockers and debunkers whose bitterness is a symptom rather than a disease. They can’t compromise their standards and can’t manage the suspension of disbelief necessary for feigned cheerfulness. Their awareness is a curse.
Perhaps curmudgeons have gotten a bad rap in the same way that the messenger is blamed for the message: They have the temerity to comment on the human condition without apology. They not only refuse to applaud mediocrity, they howl it down with morose glee. Their versions of the truth unsettle us, and we hold it against them, even though they soften it with humor.”
It’s natural to align curmudgeons to a minority, abhorred by a mediocre mainstream that thrives on hypocrisy and fawning duplicity couched as obeisance. They are quick to prejudge, not recognizing a curmudgeon’s focus that invariably discards on purpose, social hierarchy and exaltedness, ending up calling many a pretender’s bluff. That dislodgement is often so violent and a true curmudgeon executes it with such a finality and precision that the vicissitude of the victim is complete.
The vanquished is left with not much scope for redemption except to recoil into its favorite pastime – brand the curmudgeon as an aggressive, or even arrogant zealot caring for little else beyond their own business.
Precisely why I am in awe of them.