This one came by way of my old buddy Jack at Sadhana Forest. One night, at a group meeting, in front of 100 people or something, another "buddy," Tobin, called me a "lovable curmudgeon" or something. The lexicographer in me got all excited when I noticed a trend - most Americans and Canadians were familiar with the word, but most people from the rest of the English-speaking world weren't. I explained to Jack, who is from London or thereabouts, that he was my brother in curmudgeonry, curmudgeonhood, and curmudgeonosity. A few months later, this showed up in my inbox. It still makes me feel all squirmy inside, despite the fact that M-W defines me as "a crusty, ill-tempered...old man."
HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY JACK, who is too busy planting trees and being Vegan and helping at Sadhana Forest's Haiti project to be reading crap like this.
"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 servicable 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.
- Jon Winokur