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Patty Kleban: You Might Be a Curmudgeon

by on October 27, 2011 12:22 AM

Comedian Jeff Foxworthy has made millions with his trademark “You might be a redneck…”  

As an over-50, mother of three, sport parent, faculty member, middle child and townie, I would like to start my own catch phrase:

“You might be a curmudgeon….”

The term curmudgeon is defined by as a cantankerous, bad tempered person.  Google throws in “grouchy old man.”

The idea is, that the older some people get, we become less tolerant and are, in general, just a little grumpier. With the women’s liberation movement and factoring in that statistically women live longer than men, the term curmudgeon should be an equal opportunity label.

(Warning: The following text is bad-tempered, cantankerous and grouchy.)  

You might be a curmudgeon….

…If you avoid going to Penn State football games because of traffic, the weather or because “the view from my couch is better, anyhow.” You might also be a curmudgeon if, when you do go to the games, you get agitated at the enthusiastic fans in front of you when they stand up or you complain about the traffic getting out of the parking lots after the game.

You might be a curmudgeon…if you’ve ever told a Penn State student who took the last parking spot in the lot next to your building that he/she should move the car if they don’t have a pass to park there.

You might be a curmudgeon…if you’ve counted the number of items the person in front or behind you in the “15 Items or Less” line at the grocery store.

You might be a curmudgeon…

…If you snarl at the Willard Preacher, the occasional ministers who show up on campus to hand out pamphlets or the ever-changing issue protesters who stand at the base of the Allen Street Mall on College Avenue. How many conversions happen on the sidewalk?

You might be a curmudgeon…if you think that the people who ride bicycles while wearing spandex uniforms look goofy. 

You might be a curmudgeon…if you read the position statement of Occupy Penn State that was posted in the Collegian and laughed out loud their rationale for protesting in the warmth of the HUB and near TVs, bathrooms and Starbucks. You are definitely a curmudgeon if the collective antics of 18- to 25-year-old college students in a college town sometimes seem downright silly. 

You might be a curmudgeon…if the efforts by authorities, the elected officials and “grown-ups” to manage the behaviors of those same college students seem just as silly, especially, while many of those elected officials and grown-ups make a profit from the money those kids bring to town. 

You might be a curmudgeon…

…If you think that people who drive in the left lane the whole way up Atherton Street are responsible for traffic snarls.

You might be a curmudgeon…if the Fraser Street construction project tgat has alternately screwed up traffic on Beaver Avenue, College Avenue, Fraser Street or all three at once gives you another reason to avoid the downtown. You are definitely a curmudgeon if you think the conversations about naming the plaza after someone famous is much ado about nothing. Isn’t it already named after Fraser?

You might be a curmudgeon…if all of this solar, organic, green, vegan, carbon footprint, holistic stuff sounds more like a new way for people to make money than for any good it actually brings.

You might be a curmudgeon…if political statements on Facebook make you agitated. The occasional reference to one’s political opinion is OK, but it doesn’t mean that people are wrong if they disagree. As a curmudgeon, it does, however, mean they are wrong when they disagree with me. 

You might be a curmudgeon…

…If you look fondly back to the days before YouTube, hashtags, iPads and smartphones.  You are definitely a curmudgeon if you still believe the handwritten thank you note sent through the mail, with a stamp, is the way to show your appreciation for someone doing something nice.

You might be a curmudgeon…if you think that people who can’t fit in the seats on an airplane should have to pay for an extra seat (especially if they are seated next to me).

You might be a curmudgeon…if you think that college students driving to faraway cities to stand in the street at intersections to raise money “For the Kids” is dangerous and in opposition to the cause. (As I was handing over money to my own daughters to pay for gas, food, etc. for their canning trips, the curmudgeon in me thought it might be better to just remove the middle man and write – another -- check directly to THON.)

You might be a curmudgeon…if you give a fist-raised “hoorah” to Wegmans, Sheetz and other entities who have figured out a way around the draconian policies of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. (Being able to buy alcohol at a grocery or convenience store is no big deal in other state. But in Pennsylvania, it’s so wrapped up in government regulations that it’s ridiculous. )

You might be a curmudgeon…if you think the amount of time that people talk about one versus two quarterbacks is ridiculous. 

You might be a curmudgeon…

...If you laugh out loud at union members protesting big business and big business lobbying when unions are big business and unions spend gazillions of dollars on lobbying.   You are definitely a curmudgeon if you think the Occupy Wall Street seems more like an excuse to party than to actually bring about any real change. 

You might be a curmudgeon…if you that the HUB lawn was just fine the way it was. 

You might be a curmudgeon…if you think people who buy a house next to an airport — or a university — shouldn’t complain about the noise.

You might be a curmudgeon…if any political debate between candidates running for office seems like a lot of hot air. (The more time that someone spends putting down the ideas of others rather than clearly stating his or her own viewpoints, directly impacts how much I won’t consider voting for that person.)

Traffic. Politics. Silliness. Hypocrisy.

The older we get, the more ridiculous it all seems. 

I might be…a curmudgeon.



Patty Kleban is an instructor at Penn State, mother of three and a community volunteer. She is a Penn State Alumna. Readers of State College Magazine voted her Best Writer of 2010 and 2012. She and her family live in Patton Township. Her views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Penn State.
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