Dennis Knight

Dennis Knight
Whittier, California, USA
December 31
I'm the typist of those little labels you find in the pockets of your new trousers.
I own several ant farms, but the little fellas haven't produced a single crop.


Editor’s Pick
JANUARY 27, 2010 8:34AM

How to Become a Curmudgeon

Rate: 70 Flag
curmudgeon OS
While many bemoan the fact that people seem to be getting grumpier, I maintain we’re not nearly grumpy enough.

The world is teeming with namby pamby individuals who speak and behave so sweetly it gives the rest of us sugar diabetes just being around them.

These are honey bees who have lost their stingers. They’re neutered and good for little else besides spreading their own special brand of gag-me-with-a-spoon “encouragement.”

If the world needs anything right now it needs more of us to embrace a cantankerous disposition. So here’s some time tested advice on how to become a curmudgeon.

• Stop Listening. Why bother? Do you really think you’ve gotten this far in life without already knowing everything you need to know?

• Cultivate the fine art of impatience. This is harder than it sounds. It’s not enough to simply appear impatient. You must actually be impatient. Under this heading there are many helpful hints:

Look at your watch - often. Looking at your watch every few seconds while someone is talking to you is one of the best ways to demonstrate you’re weary of them yammering.

Learn to tap your fingers on tables in an ever so noticeable “Are you going to go on forever?” manner.

Practice yawning. This not only shows you’re bored, but can cause everyone in the room to yawn and appear bored too. This is a major coup when successfully pulled off.

Learn the staccato timing of saying “mmm hmm.” Inject “mmm hmm” after every few words spoken by whoever is talking. This shows a wicked, “Will you hurry up already” type of impatience, while giving the impression that you’re light years ahead of whatever point your chattering friend is trying to make.

Understand that sighing is a language. Never sigh winsomely. Inhale deeply and then exhale with a snort. If this doesn’t shut folks up they’re not paying attention.

Study eye rolling and eyebrow raising. This cannot be stressed enough. Use a mirror and aim for subtlety. If you can affect these disdainful expressions while dismissively snorting, all the better.

• Become Set In Your Ways. Nothing is less curmudgeonly than being open to change. Under this heading the following points are vital.

Insist on things being done to please YOU. Demand things wherever you are. Food servers, clerks at stores, friends and family members exist to attentively comply with your every whim. “Please” is not in your vocabulary, unless it’s said in a mocking manner. Pretend you are 5 years old, but all powerful.

Practice pouting. Let people learn quickly there will be hell to pay if you are crossed. Make them understand what sort of “wet blanket” they’ll have on their hands if you’re not coddled and sucked up to.

Forget right and wrong. These are subjective terms the weak cling to. It is your way or the highway.

• Argue About Anything and Everything. Even if you agree. Argue anyway. Never miss an opportunity to quarrel. Make up facts and cite imaginary authorities. This is very frustrating to your opponents.

• Be Peevish. Confront the Pollyannas of this world head on. When someone says, “Good morning!” respond with, “What’s good about it?!”  If asked, “How are you feeling?” reply with, “None of your damn business.” When someone inquires “What time is it?” tell them to buy a watch.

• Finally - Ignore Your Better Instincts. Perhaps, like me, you see some of these curmudgeonly tendencies in yourself already. But don’t go getting all soft and introspective. If you forsake the crabby and petulant path you’ll just become another touchy-feely, “nice” person. And everyone knows how pathetic that is.

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grumpy, surly, peevish, comedy, anger, humor

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And join the Republican Party.
Dennis, thanks a lot. My wife read this and said I have most of these traits already. Especially that "Stop listening" thing. Great Piece!!
Dennis, you must have had to reach far for and wide to come up with curmudgeon qualities...don't see this as any part of your nature. I loved this and to be totally honest, I would like to be this way for just one day, or even an hour or ten minutes. Just once. Although I have a frenemy like this, and I dread being around her. I think I'd like to be this way just once with HER. Thanks for the inspiration (even if quite unintended). Highly rated.
Well how about that? I was BORN a curmudgeon. Who knew?

Oh. Yeah. Right. Sorry. Everybody knew.

One more thing: Don't tell me what kind of day to have, 'kay?
Golly... sorry for interrupting... but you'd better not come up to Canada. Please. We're all so friendly up here it'd drive you crazy.

Unless you'd like to, of course.
Well shucks... I proudly lay claim to a grouchy old broad with a sadistic streak... I'm thinking I'm not far from being a curmudgeon.
Thanks for wasting 5 minutes of my life that would have been better spent picking my nose. Who gives a crap what you have to say?
Glad curmudgeon in training here!
Glad curmudgeon in training here!
Finally, a guide that is useful!
I came here thinking I was going to find a picture of blumenthal. Great stuff.
I was born rolling my eyes, and I have perfectd the art of an exasperated sigh.
I'm pretty good at stomping off, too--does that count?

{stomps off} See?
Have you been spying on me?
I see you have an opinion.
I'd rate this, but what's in it for me?
I'm sorry . . . did you say something?

It also helps if even when you're smiling inside your face doesn't show it, though I suppose a true curmudgeon is never smiling on the inside.
Argue About Anything and Everything. Even if you agree. Argue anyway. Never miss an opportunity to quarrel. Make up facts and cite imaginary authorities. This is very frustrating to your opponents.

So, you're Italian?

Honestly, Dennis - that was the only part I read because I already knew this shit.


That was so long I should have gotten a free meal with that, buster.

Have a nice day, Dennis...or not. I don't really care. Curmudgeonly enough? Wait, a curmudgeon is a man. What is a woman called? Termagant? Bitch, I guess. Same as always.
Have you been hanging out with my dad???
"peevish" is such a great word, right up there with "cranky" and "crabby," both of which i've copyrighted just in case you're thinking of using them.

yours in irritation,
the crankish peeve
Who knew... I've been a curmudgeon my entire life. That sucks... I have nothing to live for now.
Dear Dennis,

Excellent advice, across the board. Might I add texting while you're supposed to be listening in a meeting? That's just rude. And I'm doing it right now
I don't need anyone telling me how to be a Curmudgeon!

Jeeze. Where were you with this manual when I first sat down on on a zafu in '98? Now I'm kinda hooked on listening, and things like arguing and being right have lost their appeal. Oh well. You can take my share of grumpy.
Some grumpy old fart once said that if you're not a curmudgeon by the time you're 40 you haven't been paying attention. That damned milestone is so far behind me now that I'm thinking the old fart was talking about whippersnappers. Harumph. (r)
What a nice post, Dennis! *big hug ;)
Ha! I'm clean on most things on your list. I am a good listener, try not to tap fingers and yawn, etc. & generally try to spread cheer but I am really bad on the impatience thing & I know it is my weak spot. This is a friendly reminder to practice that virtue that is most likely - this lifetime's lesson - for me.

Thanks Dennis.

**Rated for humour & insight**
Damn right, Dennis. I am dedicating perhaps three more years at the most to being civilized,open-minded, rational, and supportive of critical thinking and reasoned discourse Then I too am going to settle in with what I believe, declare myself to be the ultimate moral authority on anything and everything I want to, and to hell with the rest of the world. I suspect I'll be a lot happier!
What a glorious frolic in the curmudgeonly.
Exactly what I have been saying, right along!
@The Barking lot: was that Freudian?

Oh, wait....did I say that? Just in case you are wondering, which of course you aren't, I am looking really bored right now. Kinda tired like and...I don't know...bored...but I didn't have anything else to do this a.m. so I read this thing....I forgot, what is it called?

I mean it was almost, you know, interesting.

Love your artwork. I noticed your name is under the curmudgeon dude.
Those better instincts will get you every time.
I can assume that this turn towards Woolycooterness is an experiement, no? HA! The day I find you peevish and impatient will be considered armageddon! :)
OEsheepdog - watching the healthcare debate unfold I think we can safely include members from both parties now. Thanks for the comment.

scanner - thank man. It’s a fearful piece for me to reread.

Mary - thank you for the kind words. If you did try this for a day you’d feel terrible and you know it. But we’d get a great post out of it from you. Of that I’m sure.

Boanerges - you and me both man. Yeah okay. Whatever :) Thanks for the comment.

Chris - I know enough of you up there now that I plan on staying indefinitely and rent free. Thanks for the kind comment.

MrsRaptor - don’t feel badly about being near it. I’m looking at it in the rear view mirror. Thanks.

Jeff - I know! I mean why would anyone read my tripe! Thanks.

Placebostudman - ha! if any of us can actually be trained. Thank you.

mypsyche - my sentiments exactly. Thanks :)

O’Really - I’m hoping John will get a kick out of this. Thank you.

Padraig - well that makes one of us! Thank you :)

spotted - you look so cute when you stomp, specially wearing the scooby-doo slippers. :) Thanks.

bobot - uh huh. Constantly. :)

Daniel - ssshhhh. Please don’t ell anyone. It will run my rep. :)

Fudo - .00000001¢ in tippem fees. :) Thanks.

Owl - nope. At least nothing of consequence. As usual. :)

Julie - yeah okay, whatEVER.

Stacey - truer words were never spoke my friend. Now you figure out which ones. ;P

Bill - I’m Scotch-Irish. We’re the same. Except we do it with Scotch instead of whine... errr... I meant “wine.” I’ll be sending you that free meal voucher real soon. To the .99¢ Store. Thanks man.

Donna - I think it’s a gender neutral term nowadays. But I was aiming at the the guys. Mostly. Kinda. Not really. :) Thanks.

nextplease - he said to tell you that’s none of your business. :) Thanks.

femme - ah! a litigious peeve too! :) Thank you.

surly - who knew?! Dear God woman. We all did! :) Thank you.

Stellaa - I would argue with you on both the bird and the modifier. I’d say more of a persistent hummingbird. Thanks.

Frank - ah yes. Texting. Though no true curmudgeon has anything to do with new fangled technology. :) Thanks man.

Leepin Larry - okay. Geez. Thanks for your comment. :)

greenheron - deal. as long as I can sell your share of grumpy. Thank you.

Clark - ha! I totally qualify. Thanks.

Amanda - yes! My reverse psychology worked!!! Thank you.

Scarlett - I just wish you could have said that with way less words. Seriously, thank you :)

Nikki - I’m with you on this 3 year plan. Only I started 30 years ago. :) Thank you.

L - you qualify? Then that makes me the devil. Thank you :)
Don't underestimate the fun in arguing about everything, especially when you already agree. It's a great way to get back at your teenagers.

That's what passes for entertainment around here anyway. Thanks for a very witty post.
I'm glad you raised it.
When the Great Barrier Reef was built, no-one had any idea the thing would be flooded. Who's laughing now, eh ?
YOU are the opposite of a curmudgeon, so you must have written this purely through observation.
As a certified curmudgeon, I find this right on the money, although I did yawn and tap my fingers impatiently while reading it.
Great post Dennis. Wish I'd thought of it. Damn!
I practice selective curmudgeonry. Some people deserve it! Nice job, Dennis...I like the 'toon, too.

Rated and appreciated!
Golly, I LOVE posts like this because they're so inspiring! A big, breathless Thank You, Dennis!!!! *group hug!* :-D, :), ;) *bigger, better smiley than I can create with the keyboard* [I'm feeling all warm inside at the generosity of OSers like you who care enough to give out advice! You're SOOOOOO great!!!!]
Dennis: Thanks for making me laugh this morning. I'm going to keep an eye on my subtle finger tapping. I do find myself jumping ahead of people at times thinking: will you be getting to the point here anytime soon?

Guess I still have my stinger but I am generally pretty sweet....until crossed:)

My favorite part is when you said


I'M BORED! You're not talking about princesses! Buy me a pony! Petulant is a paving stone on the way to curmudgeon... or bitch. What-ever!

I feel such a weight lifted off of my shoulder. Thanks, Dennis. I am one of those always-tries-to-be-nice people and it is exhausting! Great tips and I appreciate the encouragement to be grumpier! Wait, am I being too nice? I'm just no good at this.
"Cultivate the fine art of impatience." I do this with all my patients. It's allowed me to trim my clinic to a more manageable size.
"Understand that sighing is a language."

I'm gonna work on this right now. Thanks for the advice. Oh...I mean...Uh...No thanks for the unwanted advice. I didn't ask your opinion. (How was that?)
I actually find curmudgeons very refreshing. I am always terribly worried about being nice to people and making them like me, but curmudgeons free me from such concerns. It usually takes me a few minutes to cotton on that I'm dealing with a proper grump, and then I smile delightedly and settle in for a full and frank exchange of views, without any tedious civility.

Or, to be more in keeping with the piece and pay homage to one of the finest fictional curmudgeons,

"Bah - humbug!"
Ugh. Sugary sweet people give me a headache! And even if I only do about 1/3 of the things on your curmudgeon list -- I'm still a long way from becoming a cumudgeon.

Caroline - thanks for your comment and for teaching me a new word.

Kenny - I know. I know. I’m a slow learner - what can I say?

chey - as the primary focus of my most curmudgeonly behavior, you know all too well how spot on this is. Pffffttt.

Nick - don’t they just though. Thanks.

Ann - thank you for the kind words. You totally made up “Woolycooterness” :)

Dear reader - your comment made me laugh out loud. My poor daughter is really in for a ride now.

Kim - I’m not sure how to take that but I liked it - lots. Thanks :)

Lea - thank you for your kindness. Observation and hopefully transformation too :)

John - when I get positive feedback from you on anything intended to be funny I figure it’s worth it’s weight in gold. Thanks very much.

M - ah! I like that! “selective curmudgeonry.” That’s a keeper M. Thanks.

Lainey - you definitely win the the award for the most fitting comment so far, on this post. Thanks :)

Janie - thanks very much for your kind words. But what the hell is wrong with being an old man?!

Eden - thank you for the kind encouragement. You can excel still more by honing your senses to “feel” crossed by nearly everyone. Just takes practice :)

CK - if you weren’t like a little sister to me I’d give you a piece of my mind for your snarky comment. But then my mind would do you little good, except to entertain you by the sound the marble sized thing made rattling around inside your way too smart head. Pfffttt.

Aunt Mabel - that’s what I forgot! The “relentless cynicism.” Dang! Thank you.

Karin - I am here to help. If I can assist in breeding discontent and teaching bad manners I have lived for a reason! Thank you.

Steve - yeah. That oughta whittle it down to about 4000 a week. Good doctors draw crowds. Funny good doctors draw bigger crowds.

Gwendolyn - it was magnificently insulting. You may pick up your gold star - after detention.

Carolyn - you had me grinning and laughing with your comment. I hate that. Thanks very much.
I want a gold star too!

Humph! ::STOMP::

*crosses arms and waits for gold star*

(Sorry, bro... I think this tiara has gone to my head. I think it's like Gollum and the ring.)
Sorry, what was that you said?

(Great post Dennis, it confirms what all we curms knew all along. Haruumpff!)
Wow. Art of the Curmudgeon. The distilled and essential nature of the sacred art curmudgeonness. A thorough study of curmudgeonology.
Very impressive! And very funny! Nicely done!
I take it you won't be visiting any Latin country ever. We're the kings and queens of nice.
You nailed have my middle school students. Who knew it started so young! I mean that figuratively ya know not like for real or anything, that I know of, none of my business, just passing through..
sw - just remember: “practice makes perfect.” :) Thanks for your comment.

geezerchick - it’s tippem :)

CK - okay, okay. A gold star - but after detention only. And, yeah, watching you stroke your tiara while whispering, “My precious” is a little creepy.

Reid - thank s for your kind comment.

MJ - thanks bro. I’ll toss your words backatcha. You always make my blog look smarter.

Bonnie - like I said to sw, practice makes perfect.

v. seijo - ah! Whole countries waiting to be pillaged by grumpiness! Thank you.

Lunchlady - little curmudgeons are not an unheard of thing. I’m pretty sure W.C. Fields thought they existed. Thanks for your comment.
brilliant!!! but dont I get any credit... =(
I was the 1st to identify john blumenthal as a curmudgeon. =)
Im not lyin, look it up in his comments.... =)
next post.. how to "out" and ridicule curmudgeons and still get away with it...?
Good god, Dennis, you have just described my "X" to a tee!
I remain, faithfully yours,
Dennis, I'm right there! Despite seeing the tongue firmly planted in the cheek I can't help but take the positives of curmudgeoning from this piece.
One more thing to add - the thousand yard stare. You can part crowds of pedestrians as Moses unto the sea with that technique.
Great post, thanks for the laugh.
Oooh, fantastic! But you have to add in "get off my lawn!" to your repertoire.
Hmmm, my kids seem to have studied at your school! They are especially good at the "argue over everything and anything" one.
Curmudgeons should be merely tolerated if not altogether avoided. It is form of behavior which emerges from the curdling of the hormones, a kind of testosterone poisoning of the brain which occurs in middle age, a path for those too weak or too stupid for the path of wisdom. And yet today, curmudgeonhood is actively cultivated by the FOX News channels. All that flailing, vein-popping middle-aged male rage! It's an attempt to inflame it in the rest of us, similar to marketing strategies designed to inflame base motivations like greed or lust, for the covert purpose of increasing the numbers, creating groundswell, agitation, getting the mob to think a certain way, to "buy". Fox's melodrama of curmudgeonly histrionics has become a shrewd means of manipulating public opinion, even a massive - if dunderheaded - political movement.
As an apprentice curmudgeon, I especially appreciate this jedi-masterful master class.

The folks who can pull this stuff this off, they live to be 98 years old, old enough to make life miserable for their great-grandchildren. Everybody else dies before 65 of stress-induced heart disease or some such, and you can look that up-- it's 86% true, 41% of the time.
Great verse for a modern nightmare.
Deliciously curmudgeonish. I love your writing style. Hilarious. The laugh is on you, on me, on everyone.
Love this, Dennis.
And, back after my long hiatus, I hope you have not drifted too far away.
Maaaaan, I had this down when I was 15! Where is attitude when a girl needs it?
At last. I have found you, foul beast, the one who trained my sweet daughters to be outrageously intolerant high schoolers who can't bear the thought of me. Have at thee, varlet, and a clean cut, what ho!

(o geez, dad's doing, what is that, his renaissance faire thing?)