Friday, May 1, 2009

The Curmudgeon is brought up short

The air is still this morning, it wants to rain, and I rummage about the house in an old pair of moccasins, sippin grapefruit juice. Sposed to be good for your spleen. Remember Will Cuppy? Poor sod lived out on Jones Beach before it was even Jones Beach. When I was a kid the neighborhood moms used to take us swimming in Zachs Bay. But we dint like it cause the water was warm as piss. Maybe it was piss, with all us kids in there all day. How to Become Extinct. The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody. Something about a wombat. Books still make me laugh. Quist was a big fan. He also liked Don Marquis, Benchley, and Lardner. I got 'em around here somewhere, the University of Chicago reprints.

It's a human thing, to complain about everything gettin worse and worse. But men are better at it than women. We crease our brows and go, "Tut-tut-tut..." It's sposed to get a chuckle. Heh-heh. You old curmudgeon you.

I come across my hardcover edition of
A Mencken Chrestomathy. Typography and binding design by W. A. Dwiggins. Says so right on the jacket flap. Knopf. 1949. Chrestomathy's not a word you see too often. Mencken was a pip, wasn't he? As I thumb through it, a single folded page of typescript falls out. I pick it up and read.

I used to smoke, but I don't smoke anymore.
I used to read books from start to finish, but that got to be a bore.
I used to drink vodka straight, but my liver got sore.
I used to be in marketing, until my friends called me a whore.

I used to listen to NPR, but it was the same story every day.
I used to read the newspapers, then they gave news away.
I used to watch the idiot box, until cable made me pay.
I used to dig rock 'n roll, now my idols are old and gray.

I used to have a home equity loan, wasn't that a joke?
I used to have a savings account, but it's gone up in smoke.
I used to insure my life and car, can't do it now that I'm broke.
I used to do my own tax returns, but the tax code got too baroque.

I used to be a Bookish Man, but now I need to earn a wage.
I used to seek out wisdom, until Quist told me it comes with age.
I used to give the finger to jerks, but now I've suppressed my rage.
I used to act out in my shower stall, now all the world's my cage.

Quist always warned me not to take myself too seriously. "That way lies madness, poot. You wanna stay balanced. We all have good days and bad days. In the end, you hope you have a few more good ones than bad ones."

I look around to make sure no one is watchin me, then I tear that paper into tiny shreds. It feels good. I've had a good laugh at my own expense. Now it's time to start shelvin those books.

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