A Curmudgeon’s Valentine’s Holiday

A Curmudgeon’s Valentine’s Holiday

Local shares viewpoint for 15th straight ‘love’ holiday

Valentine’s Day is not an enjoyable occasion for us curmudgeons. It forces us out of our comfortable, intimidating shells of grouchiness, irascibility, negativity and cynicism. It also compels us to be cordial to others, something that we find intensely difficult and distasteful.

Bah, love bug! Nobody wants to be around or love a testy old crank who complains about everything, especially on Valentine’s Day. We curmudgeons like it that way. 

But it does behoove us — once in a while — to drop the surly, bitter façade and actually attempt to be pleasant. This is strictly a pragmatic act, as curmudgeons never do anything that isn’t totally self-serving. It means that if we’re nice, it’s possible that someone might give us something, like Valentine’s candy, a free lunch, or perhaps a little smooch. 

The first step in our foray into feigned friendliness should be the temporary squelching of one of our most annoying traits — contrariness. Curmudgeons are always contrarians. For example, if someone says, “Boy, it sure is a nice day,” an accomplished curmudgeon will counter with “Define ‘nice.’ I think foggy and chilly days are nice. So to me, this sunny, warm day is certainly not nice!” 

If an acquaintance states: “Those clerks at the drugstore sure are friendly and fast,” a cranky curmudgeon can retort with, “No, they’re not! They’re slow, annoying and patronizing. One of them actually called me ‘honey’! I felt so demeaned that I complained about her to management! How dare she! I’m not her child!” 

If some poor soul says: “I really enjoyed the broccoli beef at that new Chinese restaurant,” a curmudgeon might reply, “Not me! It had so much MSG in it that I went to the ER! I was sick for days! I’m still not right!”

Ironically, it’s possible for curmudgeons to overcome contrariness by applying their misanthropic philosophies to their own situations. Because cynical old grouches feel that people dismiss everything that isn’t self-serving, their contrary comments are usually ignored. 

Problem solved! 

The second step in a curmudgeon’s descent into Valentine’s Day decency should be the short-term cessation of two favorite social activities: complaining about poor health and conversation killing. 

Dedicated curmudgeons have the innate ability to transform any discussion, about any topic, into a discourse about their bad health, effectively annihilating a conversation — much to their great pleasure.

For example, if someone says “I baked a beautiful apple pie today.” A curmudgeon can reply, “Oh, I used to love apple pie! But now I’m pre-diabetic with high cholesterol, and this darned gluten intolerance gives me terrible gas, plus my arthritis is so bad that I can’t even carve a slice!” 

At that point, the pie conversation will be on life support.

Likewise, if an acquaintance were to ask: “Have you seen the new Star Wars movie?” A curmudgeon can say: “Oh, I’d like to, but these creaky old knees won’t make it into the theater, and those seats are way too soft for my sore hip and bad back. Plus, that popcorn gets stuck in my dentures. Ow!” 

Another interesting conversation is now dead and buried. 

The Valentine’s Day cure for a curmudgeon’s hypochondriac histrionics is simple. Since spiritual law says ”like begets like” complaining about poor health makes it worse. Therefore, the remedy is to shut up about your infirmities, unless the person you’re talking to has the initials M.D. after his or her name. 

As a result, folks who are unfortunate enough to converse with you will be eternally grateful. 

A few hardened, career curmudgeons may find the first two steps to Valentine’s Day affability impossible to realize, even for one day. In that case, step three should be implemented, which is to apply the creed of author and philosopher Robert Louis Stevenson:

“Anyone can carry his burden, however hard, until nightfall. Anyone can live serenely, patiently, lovingly, purely, until the sun goes down. And this is all that life really means.”
Additionally, it may help curmudgeons struggling with sociability to choke down this axiom from the late, great preacher King Narcisse:

“It’s nice to be nice...” especially on Valentine’s Day! 



Robin Seeley

I referenced your excellent article from 2014 on St. Patrick in my latest article about the Culinary Academy of Post Street. It was great!