4 signs I’m turning into a grumpy old man

Grumpy Old Man
One of my students has consistently called me Grandpa since the day I showed up in his class in October. Granted, he does occasionally call me “Daddy,” too. And there was one day a few weeks ago where he walked down the hall with me and introduced me as “Mr. Matt” to everyone he met – real or imaginary. So there are days where he’s all over the place with what he calls me. But his go-to name for me is Grandpa. Maybe I look like his super-young, super-hip (is that what the young whipper snappers call it nowadays?) grandpa. Or maybe it’s just the head of gray I mean…white hair. White hair. Yeah…that’s the ticket…Because it’s totally turning white and not gray at all. So maybe it’s the color of my hair that makes him assume I’m a grandpa. Or maybe there’s no real explanation of what’s going on in this kid’s head. He just wants to call me Grandpa.

I guess I’m technically old enough to be his grandpa. I guess that means I’m getting older.

I had another realization about my age recently. I was talking with a co-worker one night and realized that I have scars on my body that are older than he is. The scar from me jumping through an aquarium? Older than him. The scar from the time where I was teaching ax safety and wound up cutting my leg with an ax? Yup. Older than him. Wait….how is it possible that I’ve been blogging on this site for 10+ years and I’ve never talked about these scars? This is a travesty that must be corrected. I sense a series a-brewing.

But I digress…

Those scars? Totally older than him.

Dang. I really am getting older. I like to say that I agree with Bon Jovi. I’m not really getting old. Just older.

But maybe that’s not necessarily the case anymore. Maybe I’m not just getting older. Maybe I’m getting old. Here are four reasons that there’s a very good possibility that I’m starting to become a grumpy old man.

1. Catching some zzzzz…

Before I elaborate, I feel like I should make a disclaimer about my grandparents so you don’t misunderstand me. Grandmama and Grandpa were not grumpy people. They laughed. A lot. I remember them as generally, genuinely happy people.

Grandparents’ wedding picture. I think.

A photo posted by Matt Todd (@mattdantodd) on


I remember their smiles. And I definitely remember their laughs. Especially Grandpa’s. It’s been 25-ish years since I’ve heard that laugh, but I can still hear it echoing through my memories when I think about him. Boy do I miss that laugh. I wish my kids could’ve heard that laugh. I know they would’ve loved it. And he would’ve gotten a big kick out of them.

So you get the point. Grandmama and Grandpa were happy people. Joyous people. They were not grumps.

But, boy could they sleep.

Whenever we’d go stay at my grandparents’ house, the night would almost always end with Grandpa asleep on the red carpet that covered their Living Room. It didn’t really  matter what was on TV. He generally fell asleep while we were watching it.

And Grandmama? As she got older, she fell asleep almost anywhere at almost any time. I remember having conversations with her as she would sit down in the recliner. I’m not kidding: 30 seconds after sitting in her chair, she’d be asleep. Her best friend told us that she also had a knack for falling asleep in the movie theatee. I remember some other places where she fell asleep, but she’d probably be mortified if she was still alive and found out that I’d shared them in public.

The grand-apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, apparently. I fall asleep all the time while sitting on the couch. I’ve also dozed off a time or two during the occasional trip to the local dollar(+75 cents) theater. I am certainly following in Grandmama and Grandpa’s footsteps.

Does this make me grumpy? No. Not unless one of the kids rudely rouses me from my slumber upon the couch. Then I’m not very happy. But that only lasts for a little while. It isn’t a perpetual state of grumpiness.

Does it make me old? Probably. I think it’s safe to say that the all-nighters from college, the dates that Christy and I would have that would last until 5 in the morning, and the precious few hours of sleep that I got while our kids were babies have taken their toll. So now I’m playing catch-up. One cat nap at a time. Does this mean I’m ancient? Nah. But it’s pretty clear that I’m older.

Now please excuse me while I take a quick nap before I write the rest of this post.

2. Jaywalkers

Nothing makes me grumpier than a jaywalker crossing the street in front of my car while I’m driving down the road. This really didn’t bother me too much until sometime early last year when it was dark and a lady jumped out from between two stopped cars going the opposite direction. I was *this close* to hitting her. I’ve included a banana for scale:

That’s close.

Too close.

If she had jumped out any more, there’s no way I wouldn’t have hit her. All because she couldn’t walk a few hundred feet and cross at an intersection.

Now I just get grumpy when someone walks out in front of me and isn’t using a crosswalk or at an intersection. It makes me so grumpy that I’m tempted to speed up a little and blare my horn, just to scare them a bit. Of course I would never intentionally hit someone. But scaring someone enough to reconsider jaywalking might be fun. You know I’d never really speed up like that. But I may or may not have blared my horn at jaywalkers as they walked in front of me.

Because I’m grumpy like that.

Don't jay walk 1937

3. People who walk the wrong way

Speaking of pedestrians, people walking the wrong way down the street make me just as grumpy as jaywalkers do. Walking on the right side of the road, with the flow of  traffic instead of against it, you’re putting yourself in a dangerous situation. It’s unsafe for the pedestrians. It’s also unsafe for the people who are driving. Unless you want to increase the chances of being involved in a car vs. pedestrian accident, it just makes sense to walk on the left side of the road.

And because I really don’t want to be involved in any car vs. pedestrian incidents, I admit that I’ve at the occasional pedestrian (it’s usually a small group of teenagers) for walking down the right side, which is the wrong side, of the road. It isn’t safe and it just makes me grumpy.

Wrong Way

Very, very grumpy.

4. No turn signals

There are a lot of things I miss about living in the South. I’m sure it’s a blog post waiting to happen. There are a few things, however, that I don’t miss. One thing that drove me nuts about driving in Upper East Tennessee was the regular use of “courtesy signals” by the locals. Have you ever experienced this?

Let’s say a car is two spots in front of you and is turning left. That driver has the left turn signal on and is waiting for an opening in oncoming traffic to make the turn. As a “courtesy,” the car behind that car – the car between the two of you – turns on his/her left turn signal in order to let you know that the person in the front of the line is waiting to turn left. There were times where I encountered five or six cars flashing “courtesy signals” while waiting for the first person to turn. Once that person turned, all of subsequent drivers went straight.

I don’t understand the reasoning behind this. I never have. But it drives me nuts.

2005 BMW 645Ci Cabriolet - Flickr - The Car Spy (21)

That pales in comparison to how grumpy I get when someone doesn’t even bother to use a turn signal at all. I like to minimize uncertainty when I’m driving. I like to have an idea what my fellow drivers are trying to do. If you’re turning and I don’t know that ahead of time, that makes me grumpy.

Turn signals are our friends, people! Use them!

Mr. Grumpy Pants

Well fliberty-floo. Flobble-dee-flee!

I’m coming closer and closer to being a grumpy old man. I’m sure this’ll change in the future as my grumpy old manliness continues to grow, it seems that most of my grumpiness seems to be tied to driving. But it’s not because of anything I’m doing. It’s everyone else. Please show some courtesy and some common sense when you’re walking or driving down the road. If you don’t, you just might encounter a grumpy old man like me.

That’s the way it is.
And I like it.

Now get off my lawn.

Remembering Roberts Stadium: the Shrine Circus

This is an excerpt from a post I wrote a few years ago. I think it’s worth sharing again because the Hadi Shrine Circus is one of the very fond memories I have of Roberts Stadium…

(You can read the entire post here)

I guess I was spoiled as a child. Of course, I didn’t realize it at the time – but who does when they’re in the middle of being spoiled? Every Thanksgiving, my Grandpa would buy tickets to the Hadi Shrine Circus. I didn’t realize how special that was until I experienced other circuses. I had always assumed they were just like the ones I had seen growing up. The arena would be full of excited kids and their parents. There were death-defying acts from the high wire and trapeze. The clowns were funny. There were lions and tigers and elephants (oh my!). The three rings were full of activity, usually with multiple acts occurring simultaneously. I seem to remember a human cannonball at one point, too. And there were always special guests. I remember Daisy Duke was there one year. Batman was there another. And I’m pretty sure the Transformers were there another year (although I think I was old enough at the time that I thought it was a little lame). And I seem to remember Smurfs. Were there Smurfs one year? I understand that the Amazing Spider Man was this year’s special guest. The circus was full of wonderful sights and sounds and smells (except when it came to the animals’ special odors…). And looking back on my childhood, some of my strongest memories include the circus. I loved the circus so much as a kid that I wanted to be a lion tamer. And I remember convincing my cousins to perform circus shows with me in our front yard.

Since the Hadi Shrine Circus was the only circus I had ever known, I had assumed that all circuses were as big of a deal as the one I had always known.

That delusion ended the day after I turned 21. For my birthday, Christy got us tickets to go to a traveling circus that had come to the Tri-Cities (we were still at Milligan at the time). I thought, “Oh, cool! It will be just like the ones I went to growing up.”

Wrong!

We both agreed halfway through the show that this was the worst event we had ever experienced. First it was in a small auditorium. I think it was in a school’s gym. Christy remembers differently. It’s OK – she’s allowed to be wrong sometimes. And instead of a cast of thousands, I think there was a cast of…four. Maybe five. After performing such death-defying stunts as hula-hooping for a whole minute and walking & chewing gum at the same time, they’d rush out, change their costumes, run back out with a ‘new’ name and perform something equally as lame. Every two minutes, the ring master would come out and try to guilt the parents into buying something else that was ridiculously over-priced as a momento of this stellar event. The highlight was supposed to be an act with a white Bengal tiger. The act was the audience paying five bucks to stand next to the tiger’s enclosed trailer and take a picture, hoping the tiger didn’t stick its rear end in the glass as it paced around the small box of a cage (obviously annoyed to be there and trying to figure out a way to escape so it could maul us all on its way to “Freeeedoooom!!”). After the intermission where you could get your picture taken with the obviously annoyed giant cat, annoying him even further, it was time for the big song and dance number. Out came someone in a large character costume (he was probably supposed to be a well-known character, but I really don’t remember who it was…and it really doesn’t matter), accompanied by two ‘dancers’ (the same people who could hula-hoop and chew gum & walk at the same time) and they proceeded to dance the Macarena. Not only was this song quite played-out by then, but they didn’t even do a good job of doing the simple dance. I think my kids would have done a better job (remember how quickly they picked up the Cha-Cha Slide?). I don’t know if we left early, but we were both tempted. But hey, we were young and in love (still are…OK…maybe not the ‘young’ part anymore…) and had fun being with each other anyway.That experience almost turned me off to circuses forever.

Fortunately, my Dad bought us tickets to the Hadi Circus when Aiden was a little pup. I’m pretty sure Alyson wasn’t old enough to go yet. While he wasn’t quite old enough to realize all that was going on, it did manage to restore a little bit of my faith in my childhood memories. I was scared that the circus I had known growing up was just as lame as the one Christy and I went to. It wasn’t. That was good. It would have shattered my childhood and I’m sure it would have required years, if not decades, of therapy.

Fishin’ with Grandpa

Ready for a fishin trip
Ready for a fishin' trip

Aiden has been looking forward to this day for weeks. No, seriously…weeks. When we finalized plans to come down to Evansville for a mini-vacation (we’re here now…you’d know that if you followed me on twitter because you’d have already read this…or maye you read it on my facebook status. If you’re not my friend on facebook, then shame on you! ;)), we told Aiden that Grandpa was going to take him fishing one morning.

Watch out, fish! Hes coming after ya!
Watch out, fish! He's coming after ya!

He was super-excited.

He’s been carrying around his book full of fishing tips for kids all week. He read the book all the way down here. He even proudly showed Grandpa his book. They talked strategy last night, discussing which bait they would use to catch certain fish.

First catch (of many) that morning.
First catch (of many) that morning.

I woke him up at 5:30 this morning and he literally bounced out of bed, ready to go. They fished for several hours at a friend’s pond. According to both fishermen (and you know how reliable that is ;)), Aiden caught at least 30 fish: mostly Sunfish with some Bluegill and a Crappie or two thrown in for good measure. Grandpa informed me that Aiden is now an expert and he surely thinks this fishing thing is a piece of cake. I’m sure having a good teacher doesn’t hurt.

Needless to say, he had a blast.

And a really cool memory with Grandpa.

Flashback Friday

 

Halloween, circa 1986. If I remember correctly, Im wearing my grandfathers uniform.
Halloween, circa 1986. If I remember correctly, I'm wearing my grandfather's uniform.

The Stars and Stripes are flying in all of their glory this week.

 

And rightfully so. 

It’s Memorial Day. A time when we remember those who gave their lives in military service. 

Of course, Memorial Day carries other meanings as well. It’s the weekend of the “Greatest spectacle in racing.” 

It’s also the weekend where groceries have great bargains. I was in one store that had a buy two hotdog packages, get three free. Now that’s a deal!

Of course, it’s also the time that gas stations conveniently increase their prices. I guess it all evens out in the end.

Although the summer blockbuster season began a few weeks ago with the release of Star Trek, this is traditionally the season’s opening weekend. And one of the most talked about releases this weekend is Terminator:Salvation. The jury’s still out on whether I’m going to try to go see it in the theaters or not. 

Have you seen it yet? Should I go see it?

My friends and I watched T2 many times in high school. We thought it was one of the best movies around. And yeah, it was pretty cool. Whenever the movie is on one of the cable networks, I have to pause and watch for a few minutes and think back to those times.

Of course, T2 also includes one of the greatest soundtrack songs from the 90s. Some say it’s one of the greatest songs from the 90s. Others say it’s one of the greatest soundtrack songs ever. Yeah. That’s probably a bit hyperbole. But it’s definitely a catchy tune, even though the language is a little rough.

With that being said, everyone crank up your speakers, put on a nice bandanna or a kilt, and get ready to bang your head and do the Axl Dance (aka “The Snake“)

Guns n Roses was one of the few hard rock bands that thrived during the grunge era. Too bad they broke up. Yeah, I know. GNR is still around. But, come on. Are they really the same band without Slash?

I think not.

Good Day, Paul Harvey. Good Day

Image taken from http://www.abcrn.com/harvey/
Image credit: http://www.abcrn.com/harvey/

Listening to Paul Harvey has always made me think of my Grandpa. There was nothing about his voice that sounded like Grandpa’s. Nothing about his appearance that looked like Grandpa. But listening to him always made me think of Grandpa.

Grandpa owned a trophy shop. During Summer Break, when business was especially busy and I had tons of free time, I’d go over to Grandpa’s shop and help him assemble trophies. And without fail, we listened to Paul Harvey.

After Grandpa died, I would remember him every time I heard Mr. Harvey on the radio. I can’t help but think about how much Aiden and Alyson would have loved Grandpa. I know he was passionate about things and I’m sure he got upset about things, but I remember him as a big man full of love and laughter. He would have gotten such a kick out of Alyson running around like a dog, and Aiden rockin’ out on air guitar.

And, of course, he would be happy to know that I’m raising my kids right – they bleed Cream & Crimson.

So tonight, I weep over the passing of Paul Harvey. Not just because the nation has lost a radio legend, but because of the memories his voice would evoke (even though he’s been off the air since 2001). And tonight, I cannot help but long for the time when I finally make it home…

Chapel part II

There are very few songs that make me cry. In fact, I think there are only two. I don’t always cry when I’m singing them, but it is not unheard of for a tear or two to fall during these songs:

Blessed be Your Name
This song carried a lot of meaning before this Summer. It always used to make me think of my friend Greg, who died suddenly last year.

Then, we sang it at Jaron’s dedication and funeral services. Now, I can’t sing the song during a worship service without weeping. It’s not that I don’t believe the words – I do with all my heart. There’s just so much more power to those words now.

Give Thanks
I had forgotten about this song until we sang it in Chapel today. It’s old-school contemporary, if that makes any sense. I remember singing the song in church (back when it was Cullen Avenue – not Crossroads, like it is today) a lot right after my Grandpa died (over 15 years ago!) of a massive heart attack. Needless to say, it was unexpected. I remember thinking, How can I give thanks when something so terrible has happened to me? Can I honestly say that I am rich and strong because of what the Lord has done for me? I don’t think so. Of course, I know now that I can sing those words with conviction, but that’s what I remember thinking at the time.

I don’t know how long it has been since I sang this song as part of a worship service, but I do know it has been a long, long time. As we sang it this morning, all of those emotions and questions and struggles I was wrestling with after my Grandpa died flooded my memory and I wept. I almost had to leave the room because I was concerned about making a scene.

It is amazing to look back and see how far my faith has come. At the same time, I wind up asking the same questions from different perspectives. Have I really grown that much, yet learned so little? I think that is part of the journey of humanity.