Tag Archives: curmudgeon

Your Letter of the Twelfth Inst

Seemingly all written exchanges – by email or Twitter or other electronic device – have eradicated the art of Victorian letter writing.  To that end, I re-post my attempt with apologies to all Victorian letter writers.

——————————————————————————————-

Great Balderdash, Falls-on-Potomac

November 22, 1871

My Dearest Friend:

In re your letter of the twelfth inst, I am shocked to realize that a great misfortune has occurred wherein my last post has somehow conveyed to you unnecessary hardship in its reading, the poorly administered cause of which is entirely my fault.  Believe me when I say that such an unfortunate and distressful outcome is the last emotion I wish to express and even now as I write these words causes me great distress to think that there has been a misunderstanding whose result may break that mutual bond so lengthily constructed and for which I have the most sincere and foursquare concern.

No scurrilous knave, unspeakable cur, enterprising rogue or devious scoundrel could have erected such a formidable barrier to our friendship as has occurred by a simple whim, a mere fancy, a jot so insignificant as to be inconveniently overlooked and misplaced within my last missive and by whose existence has the modest incivility of this slight action been overshadowed with the enormous barbarity of my inadvertent words, the resulting outcome of which has placed our relationship in such precarious jeopardy and confers upon it a deed most foul.

I do hope that the undertakers for the incomparable and advantageous design of the speedy and safe conveyance of letters and packets (under a pound weight) to all parts of the cities, high roads, streets and suburbs thereof will have ordered their messengers, who collect such letters at any of the places aforesaid, to promptly discharge their duties and rapidly transport my reply of deepest regret to you. 1

Lest I be remiss, let me redress my words.  When I stated that you have the capacity for drawing liquid out with your mouth, I was only admiring your demonstrative skills to pull on something irresistibly, like the pull of the Sun on the planets or the Moon on the tides.  When I wrote of you in a way that implied irritation or annoyance, I dare say I only meant to call attention to your unerring ability to discomfort others by your incomparable talent in presenting indisputable and irrefutable facts in excruciating detail.  And, of course, my reference to your origins was not to cast aspersions on your genealogy but was by way of comparison a measure of your originality and uniqueness.

If, after all my aforementioned efforts to postulate my remonstrance and articulate my deepest remorse, you remain steadfast in your resentment and cannot be mellowed by the earnestness of my words nor by the long-standing nature of our relationship, I must then, with all due respect, retract my apology and repeat my original contention that you still suck, you insufferable bastard!

These words notwithstanding, I have in this, as always, the honor to be, very respectfully, your most humble and very ob’t. serv’t.,

 

1 From William Dockwra’s 18th century advertisement in the Mercurius Civicus as presented in JaneAustensWorld.

The Perversity of Inanimate Objects

I re-posted an earlier topic entitled Fix it; Break it. Naturally, as soon as I did it, the inevitable happened.  The inanimate objects in my house revolted and struck with perverse and unerring timing.  Here’s the follow-on post which, once again, applies.

——

They’re at it again.  I wrote an earlier post on the unerring ability of all inanimate objects in and around your house/condominium/apartment to break on cue with a perverse spontaneity when you least expect it.

I had been overdue on giving a party for a group of party-going friends and finally, recognizing their raised eyebrows and scornful looks as I greedily sampled their food and drinks at their gatherings, I agreed to host one of my own.  Two days before the start of the party – too late to cancel or find a repairman – the refrigerator decided to stop working.

The refrigerator could have chosen any time it wanted to break; for example the start of a quiet week or a day AFTER the party when I didn’t need to fill it in preparation for the festivities.  But no, it knew my plans, recognized the instant of no return and – POW – just stopped working.  In reality, it had been sitting there patiently waiting for just the right moment to break down.  Let’s see – he’s made the invitations, he’s got all the groceries, bags and bags of ice and – NOW! – time to stop working.

I know that you think I’m anthropomorphizing, giving animate thought to a bunch of inanimate metal, wood and plastic.  I’m telling you that all these devices are evil incarnate.  I fully expect to wake one morning and find myself in an appliance nightmare.  I’ll be a cross between Mickey Mouse in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Bill Murray in Groundhog Day.  All the appliances, one by one, will rise up against me.

Suddenly, the alarm clock will wake me by ringing, then shouting and then scampering away on two little feet and smashing itself into the opposite wall.  The shower head will rise from its own hook, twist itself up like venomous viper and start spitting hot water at me.  The toaster will overheat and burn; the TV will spontaneously turn on, get brighter and brighter and explode.  The phone will ring non-stop and run away when I approach it. The dishwasher will overload with suds; the dryer will spin out of control; the coffee machine will grind itself to bits; the vacuum cleaner will chase me across the living room; the ceiling fan will spin at top speed until it pries itself loose from its mount.  In an act of desperation, I will cover my eyes and ears while cowering in the corner, whimpering to have them all stop until I’m met with dead silence.  Slowly and carefully, I open my eyes, scan the room and then close them again in relief.

Phew, it’s all been a bad dream.

Suddenly, the alarm clock will wake me by ringing, then shouting and then scampering away on two little feet and smashing itself into the opposite wall….

Fix it; Break it

I had to get one of the many and never ending house repairs done the other day.  It demonstrated one of the immutable laws of nature – the fix it, break it phenomenon also known as the conservation of repairs.  Newton’s third law states that for every action there is an equal but opposite reaction.  Inanimate objects follow this law with a perverse vengeance.    If you are foolish enough to attempt your own electrical, mechanical or plumbing repairs and succeed in saving a hundred bucks, the objects in your house will rise up en masse, failing in rapid succession until you have spent ten times that amount on repairs and repairmen.

I unwittingly fixed a leaking toilet one day only to find a nearly flooded basement two weeks later because my ejector pump broke.  After a panicked call, my plumber, Fast Eddy, shows up, explains how bad the problem is, fixes it and relieves me of enough cash so that I can stop worrying about my next car, my next vacation or newer underwear.  In fact, Fast Eddy said that he had a similar problem in one of his houses.  One of his houses?  My plumber has more houses than I do!  I fully expect him to show up the next time in a repair van that is a combination Hummer and pimpmobile wearing thousand-dollar Max Armani coveralls.

I am, suffice it to say, not mechanically inclined.  The chances of me successfully conducting a major repair to my house are about as great as a dog reading a book.  I feel that, if scientists can believe in black holes, dark matter and exploding galaxies, I can believe in the self-curative powers of inanimate objects by constant incantations, prayers and, in extreme circumstances, human sacrifice.  Is it too much to ask them to break down during weekday hours when repairmen cost less?  To wait until after all the guests at a party have departed?  To agree upon a breakdown schedule that will not drain me of my life’s savings or require a second mortgage?

If only it were so.  Inanimate objects have their own laws:

Newton

Inanimate Object

   
1 An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion. An object at rest breaks when you put it in motion; an object in motion breaks anyway.
2 The acceleration of an object is directly proportional to the magnitude of the net force. The acceleration of an object’s break is directly proportional to your inability to pay for it.
3 For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. For every fix, there is at least one break.

Curmudgeon’s Pub

 

I don’t get out much.  Why should I since all is do is complain about what I encounter?  I got to thinking that, lazy soul that I am, why don’t I get the complaints to come to me?

So I decided to start a pub.  What could be more patriotic in the US of A than a good, old-fashioned European pub?

CurPub2CP

But a pub needs a pub sign and I need your help.  Boy, do I need your help.

I wrote a previous post about clever London Pub Signs.  Plagiarism never stopped me in the past but I think that – with your help – I can produce a set as good or better than those.  Here’s one seen on a pub sign in Edinburgh, Scotland.

CurPub1

Here are my pitiful efforts:

CurPubSign1

CurPubSign2

 

CurPubSign3

 

CurPubSign4

 

Yeah, they suck.  Can you do better?  I certainly think so.  Please help an old curmudgeon.

What would you put on the Curmudge’s Pub sign?

I Wouldn’t Change a Thing…

When I look back at my varied and checkered life and career, I find that, despite all my complaints, I wouldn’t change a thing.

chekered

Well…

Except for that time as a youngster when my dad was enlarging a hole with his power drill and I decided to stick my finger in the other side of the hole.

And except for that time that I went with friends into a construction site, fell and knocked out my front teeth.

And the time I rode my bicycle too fast, slipped and broke my foot.

And the time that I missed out on asking out that good-looking girl in high school because I knew she wouldn’t go out with me only to find out later that she liked me.

And not buying Berkshire-Hathaway stock when it was $50 a share, or Apple when it was $4.

Or not taking that acceptance at an Ivy League college because..  I don’t what idiocy kept me from that one.

Or deciding to change jobs because the offer was too good to be true and, as it turned out, WAS too good to be true.

When we think that one little change would make such a significant difference, we assume that it would be for the better. That shattered finger that kept you from being a concert pianist may, in fact, have kept you from being a miserable concert pianist and prevented you from having the success you did achieve (assuming that you did achieve a modicum of success.  If not, it kept you from greater failure.)  As George Bailey found out in It’s a Wonderful Life, even one little change has big consequences.

Dean Acheson took the title of his book Present at the Creation from a quote of Alphonso the Wise, a 13th century king of Spain, who said “Had I been present at the creation, I would have given some useful hints for the better ordering of the universe.” I doubt that the Almighty would ask a curmudgeon for useful hints on the better ordering of the universe but it would not be bad to ask for a rewind button.

Just a simple button to make no into yes.  Or take a right turn instead of a left.

But who knows what that one little change means.  No, no, I’ll leave things just as they are…

Except for that time as a youngster when my dad was enlarging a hole with his power drill and I decided to stick my finger in the other side of the hole.

And that time that I went with friends into a construction site, fell and knocked out my front teeth.

And the time I rode my bicycle too fast, slipped and broke my foot….