Feb 232015
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Remember Life’s Lessons.

Today’s lesson is about what is important in life- and what doesn’t matter at all. At each stage along the way, things seem important but as we move along in life, what was important yesterday doesn’t seem so important today. Listening to others just confuses things more. The result is lots of wasted time and energy along the way. With age comes wisdom. That’s what they say and after 70 years of life I can finally agree? I’ve done a lot of silly things along the way and only now do I begin to understand what is important. Each phase of life comes and goes and with each one, it seems that another stupid notion about life gets beat down.

It’s hard to believe that it’s 50 years since I was a cocky young pup ready to take on the world. Back then I was smarter than anybody I knew, didn’t need anyone to tell me what to do and when they did I wouldn’t listen. I was smart and the world was there for me to take. Too bad I didn’t know how.

40 years ago I finished school ready to make my fortune and start my family. I was not only smart, I was educated to boot. Who wouldn’t want to be me? Look out world.

30 years ago somehow the promises hadn’t panned out so well. The career was stalled. Home life was monotonous and there just wasn’t enough money for the good life. But I was still smart and there was more time.

20 years ago, my kids had grown into cocky young pups who thought their old man was full of shit. I was getting to be the old guy at work and there still wasn’t enough money. How long until I can retire?

10 years ago, retirement stared me in the face and when I stepped over the line, I found that there was nothing there. No fun. No adventure. And more important, no money.

So much wasted time!

What happened?

So that brings me back to the present. All through my life, the characteristics that I depended on to keep me going let me down. One by one, I discovered that nothing lasts. Here at the back end of life, it is very clear that the only thing left to keep me going is cantankerosity. You can’t depend on good looks, IQ, personal magnetism or even luck. The only thing is to let yourself loose. You have to be all that you can be, let it all hang out and show your inner self, warts and all without worrying about what anybody might think. You still might not be the world beater you aimed for but they sure as hell won’t ignore you.

Looks are fleeting

I never thought much about looks back then. I didn’t have to. I was young. I figured it would always be the same. Then one day I discovered that when I wasn’t looking my waist had gotten bigger than my chest and covered my belt. My wavy locks were now thin and lank and my hairline receded as my waistline advanced. It was a good thing I’d decided to get married a few years ago because I’d never get to first base at the singles bar these days.

There is always somebody smarter

I soon learned that I wasn’t as smart as I thought. Or, at least , the rest of the world didn’t see how smart I really was. There was always some guy with a better answer or a dumb boss afraid to be shown up. Being smart wasn’t enough to make it big and being smart all the time is very exhausting. If you don’t get beat down by the next guy on the make, you wear yourself to a frazzle keeping up with of the pack. You can’t win.

Your kids wear you down and let you down.

You start the family adventure full on confidence. With all you know and the superior genetics you bring, your kids have it made. They will be world beaters and you will be known as the world’s greatest Dad. It is inevitable. Except it’s not. Good as those genetics might be, it still takes work and your kids got their schooling in California where self esteem rules. They want it all with no effort. Nothing you do to impress, cajole, intimidate or demand the hard work and effort to excel at school registers. They aren’t impressed. They have their own plans.

Your career ends with a whimper.

Your final humiliation is ending your career baby sitting. What ought to be your last few years of respectful dignified status as the senior officer at work turns south, when a buyout changes the management and new direction brings in your worst nightmare- a twenty-something hotshot. He will save the company and your job is to keep him happy. He thinks you are a pathetic loser and humiliates you daily in ways too subtle to file a complaint about. Not that it matters because they would love to find an excuse to fire you anyway.

So now you are retired.

Finally it’s your time. No more work. No more kids in the house. Time for you and the old lady to rock. Except rocking just ain’t what it used to be and neither are you. Between the afternoon nap, the arthritis in your hips and the fact that you are living on 50 percent of your inadequate salary, the only rocking you feel up to is that rocking chair on the front porch.

After a lifetime, It all comes down to this. Nothing good lasts and all those hopes and dreams, wishful expectations and even hard work and good attitude just don’t matter in the end. At long last, the truth that you missed all along the way is clear. You tried to hard to play the game. You counted too much on your abilities and good looks. You expected the world to treat you with the same respect you showed it. The world shined you on and you believed it. Now you have nothing to show for all your effort. You blew it. You were a nice guy through it all and look where it got you.


Today’s lesson is that it’s not too late to salvage the rest of your pitiful life, even if you are an old, over the hill coot like me. Stop counting on your skill, talents and good looks to take you to the top. Stop expecting to be treated with respect while you shovel somebody else’s shit. Don’t get upset about being used as a doormat. Stop worrying about being the nice guy and expecting that others will like you for it. It won’t work anyway and you will still end up a loser. Let it all out. Vent all those frustrations and smashed hopes. Let all those good intentions go and be Cantankerous.

Say what you feel! Let them know what you really think. Don’t pull your punches and stop being a wimp. No matter what you do, you are still destined to end up old and ugly, frustrated with the lumps life has handed you and disappointed at being let down by the people around you. Don’t waste another moment being the nice guy and expecting fair treatment. Nice guys finish last and as long as that is your destiny, you might as well enjoy it. The next guy that passes you by be sure to point fat ass and that he runs like a girl.

It may be a small pleasure. It may be petty. But it will help you stop feeling like such a loser. At least when you are old, ugly, smelly and make strange noises you can’t control, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you won’t be forgotten or forgettable. Cantankerosity is forever.


Ralph is the inspiration for Cantankerous Old Coots and is our Grand Duke of Cantankerousness

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  One Response to “Coot’s Law 21- Cantankerosity Lasts”

  1. Life’s lesson will teach you how to be strong enough to face any more challenges that may come.

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