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Friday, April 1, 2016

In Praise of the Grumpy




IN PRAISE OF THE GRUMPY


And as you stand there
Arms crossed
Managing to look both infinitely patient and impatient at the same time
Trying not to roll your eyes and wonder how much longer all this will take


Let us now praise you.


You: the grumpy, the grouchy, the grumbling.
You: the beleaguered and the put-upon.
You: our hidden hero.


Because while you are
Short-tempered with the witless
Furious with the shallow and
Yelling at the television


It is only because you are so thoughtful
That everyone else seems so thoughtless.


And while you insist that you do not care about
What anyone is wearing or
What anyone said or did or
What so-and-so said or did back,
Nor do you give two figs about
The disenfranchised urban-dweller of today or
The illiterate or
The underprivileged of some foreign land or
Whomever it is we're supposed to be caring about today and that


You will not, under any circumstances,
Attend the choir concert or
The holiday party or
The 12-step meeting or
The neighborhood street fair or
The fancy dress ball or
The class reunion - for God's sake especially not the reunion - and that


You mustn't be relied upon for
Donations or
A ride home or
Free advice or
Help moving in to your new townhouse or a
Damn birthday present or
Whatever it is that all those people with all those
Outstretched hands
Seem to want


You must know that we all know
That you do, indeed, care and that
You will, if pressed, attend and that
We all do rely
On you.


We can tell that you care,
Because you so assiduously refuse to conform to
Some greeting-card version of caring
And instead insist on caring about us as individuals.


You remember the conversation we had about
Ry Cooder's guitar playing, and
Six weeks later you slip us a
Homemade cassette tape with no label.


You shun the collection plate, and yet
You shove a hundred dollars into the Youth Group's coffee can
(A check, of course - no sense missing out on the tax deduction just because you had a weak moment.)


And when you go to greet us,
You look us in the eye and take our full measure
And if you should
Notice that we look a bit sad,
You will grab our hand and
Kiss us roughly on the cheek and say,
"You OK, darlin'?"


You might grouse about Christmas Eve,
But you do love Christmas morning.


And while you would never voluntarily look at a
Photo album,
You forever hold a picture in your mind of
How we looked in
That Halloween costume
That prom dress
That uniform.


And we know you will attend
(Quit squirming - this poem isn't that much longer)
Because underneath your self-proclaimed
Disdain for all humanity
You are curious.
Intensely, insatiably, incorruptibly curious
And while you act repulsed
I suspect you are truly fascinated by us -
This clamoring horde of strangers you are compelled to share the planet with.


OK, OK: with whom this planet you are compelled to share.
Good grief you can be a pain sometimes.


And oh, how we rely on you.


And finally,
While you have largely succeeded in getting yourself off of
The phone tree
(That tactic you had about boring everybody silly with the excruciating details of your latest Water Filtration Project did wonders for removing you from any thinking hostess' guest list)
We do still rely on you.


Oh how we rely on you.


Oh how we rely on you.


You are our voice of sanity
Our comrade-in-arms
Our truth-telling ally in a world of endless bullshit.


You are our hidden hero
Deceptively chivalrous with
Your tender heart clad in dented armor.


And you must know that
When you are gone
We miss you.


So go ahead and
Sneak out at intermission and
Have an extra drink to get you through the reception and
Just turn and walk away from the
Over-gesticulating and the infuriatingly self-righteous.


Save yourself from these petty cruelties so that
When the world becomes just too much for us poor mortals to bear
We can rely on you to save us.


Oh how we rely on you.
Oh how we rely on you.


Oh how we rely on you.


Now stand still, because we're going to give you a nice, big hug. 



Samantha Bennett
© 2009 


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