[Metroactive Features]

[ Features Index | Metro | Metroactive Central | Archives ]

Gruff It Out

It's a dirty job, but somebody's gotta love doing it

By Corinne Asturias

NOW THAT WE KNOW grumpiness is genetic, we should probably muster some genuine sympathy for the grumps among us. Anyone who has ever known, loved or lived with a grump is acutely aware of the unconscious, predisposed nature within a person who seems to have landed on the wrong planet and can't go back.

From birth, a grump knows he or she is different. They see other people being civil before 8am, giggling over life's small indignities and enjoying small children and dogs. From birth on, grumps know they have been ripped off.

I come from a family that runs roughly half-grump. My grandfather was so ill-tempered that as children we nicknamed him "Grumpa." My brother and sister are both grumps. Sure, they'll read this and get a little miffed, but that just proves my point.

Living with grumps, I learned certain things. As a rule, grumps are not morning people. After an entire night stewing in their own juices, they need to seriously adjust their chemicals with caffeine, sugar or a good long session in the shower. My youngest sister, a grump who can grouse with the best of them, would come to the breakfast table at the age of 4, head held high, with her green blanket draped over her head. A grump needs to know when to be alone.

Grumps are also fun to annoy. The stimulus-response relationship is at times almost enchanting. Harassing a grump without sustaining personal injury is good sport.

A number of the sources nominating valley grumps did so with the caveat that their grump had many redeeming characteristics. Indeed, many grumps seem to have a kinder, gentler flip side. Grumps are often irascible, curmudgeonly and much-loved. There's also the fact that after a particularly bad episode in a public place, where a grump has, say, imitated a terrier seizing upon a pant leg, he or she will attempt to provide compensation to the victims.

Grumps come in many varieties, but by consensus (although it was difficult having what could be termed a serious analysis around such a subject), a grump is not the same thing as an "asshole," who works long and hard at the task of making others miserable and feels little remorse afterward. A grump is also not a "weenie," who will try to defend or deny his behavior later. A grump is not a "whiner," who yearns for sympathy more than solutions.

The term "grump" also has a decidedly male connotation to it. In a women's studies course I once took, it was one of a few derogatory terms that made it over to the male-only chalkboard (the women's board had about 10 times as many words on it). A woman who is a grump is mistakenly called a "bitch." Yet, in my experience a bitch is a very different thing than a grump. A "bitch" is selective. Grumps are undiscriminating.

Grumps serve an important in-your-face function in society. As one grump pointed out to me, we can't all be doormats. Someone has to snap, do the facial twist and shout, or the world would be like a talk show on the Christian channel.

It's true that the world would not be the same without grumps. For one thing, they allow the non-grumpy around them to feel patient, optimistic and brimming with self-control. The emotionally vigilant see problems coming from 1,000 yards and experience annoyed reactions long before the average person. This can be good. Someone has to let out the big huff and moan at the supermarket when there are 10 people in line, to scream out "FOCUS!" at the movies before the next scene is ruined.

Chances are, most of the grumps on this list will be unhappy about their selection. Then again, they were already unhappy. Can we help it?

[ Metro | Metroactive Central | Archives ]


From the August 7-13, 1997 issue of Metro.

Copyright © Metro Publishing Inc. Maintained by Boulevards New Media.


Foreclosures - Real Estate Investing
San Jose.com Real Estate