“There is another Coot” my wife announced as we merged onto the surface street near our home this week. We were returning from our semi-monthly visit to the big box warehouse store. I was distracted trying to figure our what was new in the ongoing construction of the overpass and was startled by impatient honking from the car behind.. In the mirror I saw an old, bald guy in a Toyota scowling at me. I waved at him (all five fingers carefully extended) and sped on to the the next stop light.
“That is no Cantankerous Old Coot,” I told her. “That is an Angry Old Fart.”
Today’s lesson my be the most important of all. Being a Coot is not just letting it all hang out. There is an art and finesse to being a Coot that may not be obvious to the beginner. This is an important because you may be confused so far. Coots are not hostile or angry. They aren’t mean or malicious. They aren’t evil and vindictive. Those are the characteristics of Angry Old Farts. Coots are blunt and direct. They don’t suffer fools. They don’t hide their feelings and down deep, sometimes so deep that you might miss it, they like people, annoying as people can be. Coots are optimists, confident that even the biggest fools can be redeemed once they are shown the error of their ways. If you have missed this subtlety then pay close attention to today’s lesson.
This is where the whole effort becomes difficult. Not everyone has what it takes to be a Cantankerous Old Coot. It takes finesse and good judgment to know where the line between a Cantankerous Old Coot and an Angry Old Fart lies. Once you push past that line, there is no return because when you are tagged as an Angry Old Fart, all your actions will be seen as mean and angry no matter what you might intend. This is especially important for Coots in training because you don’t want your early mistakes to condemn you to live as an AOF. If it happens to you, you pretty much have to relocate to another state and start all over if you don’t want to live the rest of your life as an AOF.
Far better as you are learning your craft that you underplay your role, even at the risk of being perceived as a wimp. As you perfect your skills and hone the phrases you use, you can gradually work your way into the sweet spot that is the essence of Cantankerous Old Coots. The essence of this weeks lesson is to go easy; test the ground and evaluate the responses.
Many people, maybe even my scowling friend in the Toyota may have aimed for the perfection of a Cantankerous Old Coot only to fall into the realm of Angry Old Farts and once there discover that there is no way back. Don’t let that happen to you. Aim high but move slowly to develop your skills, Don’t let impatience or poor judgment make you an Angry Old Fart by mistake.