Monday, October 26, 2009


I guess this entry is the anthesis of yesterday's "feelin' good" entry. I realized this weekend that, my protestations to the contrary, I really am turning into a curmudgeon. I am in danger of turning into my father, hence the need for a "feelin' good" list!

After my mother left my father, he went through his social period, where he went out a lot, dated every woman over a certain age in Marin County (and slept with most of them, if he is to be believed). He had friends who visited regularly. He threw parties. And then, as he was wont to do, he began turning them all away. He would turn on them, get angry with them, have big arguments with them, until there was nobody left to care about him except my mother and me, and then he turned on us too.

There was a sign on his front door that said "if you haven't been invited, you are trespassing on my property."

By the time he died, his world had shrunk down to only himself, and a neighbor he had asked to check in on him if he hadn't opened his window shade in the kitchen in the morning. It was that neighbor who found him, 3 days after he died, in a house that would have qualified for one of those TV news exposes about the clutter in a house. The house was full of empty diet Pepsi cans, the kitchen table piled high with cigarette ash--when his ash tray filled up, he just dumped the butts and ashes on the table and filled it up again. The floor was covered with cotton balls and diabetes test strips and needles he had just dropped after he'd taken his blood sugar reading.

For some reason he turned off the water to the house and so every dish, pot and pan was piled high in the kitchen and, since he fried almost everything he cooked, everything was coated with grease. It killed me to throw away a huge collection of cast iron pots and pans that were just too gross to even try to clean up. (I did save a dutch oven and it took a lot of cleaning and scrubbing to get it to where I could bear cooking in it.)

His closet was piled high with dirty underwear. He once told my mother it was cheaper for him to buy underpants on sale and throw them away than to pay to wash them in the laundromat. So he'd wear his a pair of underpants once and then toss it in the closet.

And because there was no running water in the house, the place was filled with feces, the toilet overflowing, the bed full. My mother spared me that part of the clean up. She and her husband took care of that before I got to the house after his death.

I actually hadn't intended to be quite so graphic, but maybe I did it so I can say "I'm not THAT bad yet!"

But I am becoming a curmudgeon. As you get older, your circle of friends shrink, whether from death or distance or moving in different directions. The smaller it gets, the less you care about a lot of things. What's the point?

I don't think I'm as grumpy as my father. I don't think I've deliberately turned people away by my bad attitude. But then, he probably didn't think he did either.

However, this weekend, my curmudgeonhood rose to the fore.

The high school has just completed this beautiful million dollar sports complex. Since we aren't at the high school, I'm not sure what all it entails, but a new football field is part of it. This was homecoming weekend. There was something Friday night (I saw lots of balloons in the set up as I drove home from the store that afternoon), and a game Saturday during the day.

How do I know? Because the new loudspeaker is so bloody loud that I can hear everything that is announced, though we live four blocks away. I heard who made every touchdown--through closed windows. We would have heard everything that went on Friday night too except we were at a show and only caught the tail end as we got home.

This is a town which cited someone for snoring in her own home because it violated the town noise ordinance and her neighbor complained (imagine the police waking you up out of a sound sleep to give you a ticket for SNORING!). This is the town where the police showed up in our driveway five minutes after 10 p.m. because Walt, who had been building a set cut one last piece of wood at 10 p.m., the cut-off time for the noise ordinance. A neighbor called the police because he was keeping their child awake.

And yet now we have a loudspeaker system which can be heard all over West Davis. In truth, the announcements didn't go on past 10 p.m., but it was damned annoying, especially knowing that we have all of football season to get through.

So I did what any red-blooded curmudgeon would do. I wrote a letter to the editor.

I don't want to be a curmudgeon, and I don't want to begrudge the high school its fancy new sports complex, but it seems incomprehensible that in a town with such a strict noise ordinance that you can be cited for snoring in your own home, the volume level of the sound system in said new complex can be allowed to be so high. I live several blocks away and heard every announcement from Friday's football game, through closed windows. I can't even imagine how terrible it must be for the folks who live across the street.

I don't suppose this is going to win me any fans, especially among the high school football folks, but I'd like to think my father would be very proud!


Tracey T said...

I love reading your blog Bev!

jon said...

That is a sad story about your dad. I had a cousin who was a "collector". He would go to the landfill to get stuff. He called it his "mall". He was going to do something with all that stuff. He offered me a cup of coffee in his house. "NO, thank you!" After he left the house it had to be leveled. He moved onto another house which he also destroyed. Some people have the Midas touch. He had the "minus" touch. He was a living example of "deferred manintenance".

Don't worry, about the curmudgeon thing. It happens once you get our age. embrace it. Have fun with it. Now leave me alone!!!

Mary Z said...

John had on his sweatshirt today that I had made for him a couple of years ago. It reads...


Maybe you could borrow it sometime. But I love your word "curmudgeonhood"!

Sunny said...

Yesterday was my birthday,
I turned 60.
Does that offcially qualify me as a crumdgeon?
I need to know these things!

sunny from TMA

Sunny said...


I guess I should know how to spell one before I want to be one!


(Is being a curmudgeon a guy thing?)

I need more help.


Bev Sykes said...

It's really bad when your curmudgeonliness is turned on yourself!