Column: My own version of ‘Grumpy Old Men’

05/25/2013 8:00 AM |

Yes, it’s true. Somehow I’ve become a Grumpy Old Man and my only excuse is the inexorable acceleration of time. This grumpiness might actually have started a few years ago, but I didn’t begin noticing it as a well-ingrained personality trait until recently.

Sometimes it manifests itself first thing in the morning, as I grunt at the barrage of questions fired at me by a highly caffeinated and already-up-for-hours Joan Giger Walker. Other times it doesn’t surface until later in the day, when my personal list of grievances eventually tips the scale.

Last Tuesday was a particularly grumpy day. Following my morning Q&A by my partner in life, it ratcheted up a notch during a bike ride on normally pristine Narrow River Road in Orient. And what did I espy near the headwaters of Narrow River itself but several piles of garbage that had spilled out of bags dumped by some miscreant(s) sometime over the winter months. And here’s a fair warning to said miscreant(s): When I return to Narrow River Road to pick up your trash, as I will shortly, you had better pray that there aren’t any Alice’s Restaurant-type envelopes in there with your name and address on them. In which case your garbage will be returned, sans bag, to your front steps by yours truly.

Is that grumpy enough for you?

Then, later Tuesday afternoon, as I was crossing Main Road on foot from south to north in front of Southold Pharmacy, a speeding (at least 50 mph) silver Land Rover came within inches of sending me to my maker, coming so close that my loosely fitted sweatshirt flapped in the vehicle’s wake. At first, I thought it might be George Schneider (see May 16 Letters to the Editor), but then I saw the Connecticut license plate.

My considered response to this near fatal hit-and-run was to stand in the middle of the Main Road, raising both middle fingers in the direction of the westbound Land Rover, hoping the driver would screech to a halt, giving me an opportunity to express my displeasure face to beet-red face. But he continued on his merry way and I’m fairly certain the several bystanders who witnessed this incident would characterize my response as, yes, grumpy.

Please do not get me wrong. It’s not all darkness with your faithful correspondent (YFC). I still find much joy in our grandchildren’s various athletic events and school concerts, and Miles Davis’ “Sketches of Spain” never fails to send chills down my spine. But as I approach my eighth decade on this planet, it seems I must work a little bit harder to accentuate the positive.

Which means, probably, that the time has come to begin heeding the sage advice of now-departed French actor-singer Maurice Chevalier, who once was quoted as saying, “I prefer old age to the alternative.”

Further proof that all is not darkness with YFC: Our recent dinner at chef Keith Luce’s new restaurant, Main, on the site of what I still refer to as “the old Cinnamon Tree” in Greenport. It (the meal) was resoundingly outstanding and I predict much success for Mr. Luce and his various enterprises in Stirling Square, including a flatbread pizza/cured meats walk-up window, which must be the first of its kind in North America.

And something I did not know until informed by former Cinnamon Tree/Stirling Square owner May Watson: Keith Luce once worked in the Cinnamon Tree’s kitchen as a 16-year-old assistant to May’s son, chef Adam Watson. That was, of course, before Mr. Luce went on to fame and presumably fortune as a chef at no less than the White House. (Yes, that White House.)

tgustavson@timesreview.com

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