7 signs you're becoming a grumpy old man




 

On Monday, Larry David's cult comedy Curb Your Enthusiasm returns to television after a six-year hiatus, with the misanthropic lead character - a thinly fictionalised version of David himself - joined by a new host of guest stars including Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston. Cause for three cheers? Surely a pained half-smile will suffice. For if David's brilliant anti-sitcom has taught us anything, it's that it's ok to give up on false jollity, excessive professions of affection, small talk, banter, and bonhomie - being a grumpy old man is, to coin his catchphrase, pretty, pretty good.

Oh, the relief. Fiction has given us plenty of bad-tempered churls in the past: Shakespeare's Timon, Moliere's Alceste, Dr Seuss's Grinch and Sesame Street's Grouch, Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau as warring pensioners and most notably Richard Wilson's Victor Meldrew. (Indeed, fans shouting Meldrew's catchphrase "I don't belieeeeve it!" at him turned the genial Wilson into a bit of a curmudgeon himself.) But these characters are essentially figures of fun, their misanthropy worthy of mockery, where Curb's 'Larry' is a hero.

His attitudes may bring divorce, disaster and buttock-clenching social embarrassment on his head, but he perseveres, remaining honest, authentic and a stranger to false kindness. He's taught men the world over to embrace their inner Grumpy Old Man - here are the seven ways to tell if you're one, too:

1. You refuse to make new friends

As with books, you operate a "one in, one out" policy with new pals. After all, acquiring a new acquaintance is so exhausting - so many questions to answer, so much history to go over - you'd have to cull an existing chum just to find the energy. Fortunately, at your age, inertia, irrevocable fallings-out over trivial things or death means your address book constantly winnows itself. Small mercies.

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2. Clothes exist for function, not fashion

If you are in a relationship, you long ago gave up on trying to impress your other half with your sartorial flair. If you are single, your eye will probably be drawn to someone younger, but you will be invisible to them. This is because cardigans, corduroys, and shoes that look like Cornish pasties have at some point been mysteriously sucked into your wardrobe like matter into a black hole. What's more, you refuse to buy any new shirts until you have "worn out" the ones you own, even the ones you don't like.

3. Technology refuses to co-operate with you

You're fine with mobile phones, e-mail, maybe even Facebook, but at the mention of Instagram or Google's Alexa you adopt the expression of a donkey watching a card trick. You yearn for the days of four (or even three) TV channels and one remote control. And you laugh at the young people buying turntables for vinyl records because you've still got yours. Sorry, hipsters - we were there first time around.

4. You have replaced conversation with complaints

If someone asks how you are you don't say "fine", or even stretch to "well", but embark instead on a litany of physical ailments, imagined slights and grumbles about the state of the world (you blame Theresa May personally for the fall in the pound). Plus you can't stand up from a seated position without emitting a loud groan, nor see a train timetable board without swearing under your breath.

5. Leaving the house becomes unnecessary trouble

The Japanese term for staying indoors due to social withdrawal is 'hikikomori' - a fancy way of describing how hell, as has long been suspected, is other people. Restaurants? Too loud. Theatre? Too expensive. Music concerts? Nowhere to sit down. Even the cinema, with its endless adverts and decibel-busting popcorn munchers, has been sent to try you. Dinner parties, too, have become so exhausting that you now revert to Peter Cook's response to any social invitation: "Oh dear, I find I'm watching television that night."

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6. You balk at the so-called evolution of language

Like Larry in Curb, who excoriates people who say "LOL" instead of actually laughing, or find yourself enraged by the fact you can no longer merely order a coffee, but must instead ask for a "vanilla bullsh*t latte cappa-thing" in Starbucks, you've become an lingua-pedant of the highest degree. You still pointedly order "chips" anywhere that deigns to sell you "fries," and correct people who say "upmost" instead of "utmost". You also hate anyone who uses the rising inflection at the end of each sentence, or who preface every second word with "like".

7. You just don't care

Age has put things in perspective. You realise you have lived longer than most of your ancestors, enjoyed better food, healthcare, and housing, more interesting travel and a prolonged period without a world war. You can even console yourself in the face of encroaching ill health and death with the thought that all those heedless, would-be-immortal youngsters will go through this one day, too.

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