Louise tells me often—I want to say several times a day or week—that I’m grumpy. I don’t know that I’m being grumpy. Then out of the blue, she says, “Why are you so grumpy?”
This comes as a complete shock to me, because I’ve worked on being nice, and sometimes, just at the moment when I think I’m the nicest, she says, "You're a grumpy old man." or, “You sound nasty,” or, “You scowl all the time,” or, “You sit in the corner and don’t talk.” I do not hold this against Louise. This is not a rant against Louise or any other woman, who is living with a grumpy old man. But I’ve been thinking about it. If I am grumpy, even if I don’t know it, why am I grumpy?
My first thought goes to a line in the movie, Moonstruck. Everyone who has seen Moonstruck, raise your hand. Almost unanimous? So the father in the family, a grumpy old man, is having a fling with a well-powdered woman, and his wife, played by Olympia Dukakis (one sexy woman), knows this affair is going on. She asks her daughter’s fiancé (or nearly ex-fiancé) why men are unfaithful. And he says, “Because they fear death.”
And Dukakis, says, “That’s it. That’s it.”
This raises a question that I must ask myself. Do I fear death? I’m not having an affair, but am I grumpy, because I fear death? I want to hear from women who live with or have lived with a man for one or sixty years. Two questions: 1) is your man grumpy? And 2) does he fear death?
First of all, the most religious of you might say, “My husband has a firm and abiding testimony of the resurrection. He does not fear death.” To which I must ask, “Is he grumpy?” And the answer, almost inevitably, is, “Well, yes.”
So is this grumpiness rooted in our biology, our lack of faith, or some other cause? I can only speak for myself. Do I fear death? Well, yes I do. I think about death a lot. I don’t think it has to do with lack of faith. Well, maybe it does. I went to the hospital once, thinking I was having a heart attack. The nurse laid me on the gurney and put a nitroglycerin lozenge under my tongue. Long and short of the story: it stopped my heart. If Louise hadn’t been sitting there and run for help, my heart would still be stopped. The nurse, she said, pounded my arm and yelled at me in a voice loud enough to wake the dead, “Mr. Plummer.”
When I had returned to coherence, she said, “Did you see Jesus?”
What I saw was nothingness. Nothing at all. Another friend who had a similar experience could only say, “Pitch black.”
So yes, I have some concerns about death. To me, every living person is here against all odds. If we were created by a loving God, why were we created and not some other piece of dirt? If we evolved, how many odds (a ttillion to one?) did we have to beat to get here? So now that I’m here, I’m not in the mood to leave.
But fearing death is not my constant obsession, and I’m still grumpy, I guess. I’m told. So why else? Here’s a little list to curtail this rambling:
- I’m not as functional as I once was.
- I’m mad that I’m not as functional as I once was. If you don't understand this, thank your lucky stars.
- I don’t hear as well. I teach a couple of classes at Utah Valley University, and some of the students speak softly. And I yell, “I can’t hear you. The old man is deaf.” The family gets together and talks. Blah blah blah.
- The world has turned over to young people. And they’re not as smart as I am.
- The music of my youth is gone. Who listens to “Rock Around the Clock” now? Ke$ha Schme$ha.
- The dancing of my youth is gone. Young people don’t know how to snuggle up like we used to, pressing ourselves into each other’s bodies, like squirrels in a nest. Now they dance several feet apart. Where have all the hormones gone?
- The answer is, the hormones have all gone to the media. I have nothing against sex. But I would like to see something else when I go to a movie. Or at least understand what they're doing.
- I don’t have enough money.
- I go to the doctor every three months. He says, “So far, so good.” What the hell does that mean?
- When my sons call on the phone they say, “Hi Dad. Is Mom there?”
So am I grumpy? Well damn straight I am.