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Surly Old Man

I've become surly with old age. My neighbors play their music too loud, so I yell at them. I stare at groups of young people walking in front of my house, poised to reprimand them for stepping on my lawn. I have a pension that I'm paying into, and I'm not afraid to tell anyone about it. So I'm becoming a surly old man.

And with age, comes introspection. Regrets, doubts, philosophical debates inside my head (and occasionally outside as well). A whole bunch of that stuff, for sure. It's as if I needed therapy at one point, and never really did it, so I just vomit out stuff when it comes to me and say "to heck with the circumstances -- I'm old. I don't care."

So today I'm at work, and I get a text message from my wife saying "I am in orientation with *insert name of guy I went to high school*'s wife."

After sending a joke, since he shares a name with someone famous, I followed with "Or is it that other guy I went to high school with? He was a douchebag."

And yes, he really WAS a douchebag. I'm using the term was, since I haven't seen or interacted with him in over 15 years. He could have found Jesus, for all I know, and that would be awesome. But all of my memories of him are tied into his douchebaggery from when we were kids.

Seriously, if Ed Hardy shirts existed in the early - mid-nineties, I'm pretty sure this guy would have had a closet full of them. Did I say he was a douchebag yet? I love that term. It's my favorite insult ever. I think I'll be using that when I'm REALLY old, when my grandkids have to Google it to find out what it is. And then they'll wonder why the senile old man is referring to people as feminine hygiene products. Ah, kids. They just don't get it sometimes.

Anyway, so my wife says this guys wife is pretty nice, and reassures me that yes, we all grow up, and change, so to knock off my insistence that he was a douchebag, and that even though his wife is nice, some girls dig jerks, I should give him the benefit of the doubt. And I will. I guess. If I have to.

But this got me to thinking. (introspection again) Would I be friends with the people I am friends with now, if I knew them in High School? I'm still the same person I was back then, perhaps with a little bit more confidence, a little more comfort in my skin (well, there's a lot more skin now, so I guess I needed to stretch out,) I have less hair and I'm a little more boisterous than I used to be.

Back then I was a longhaired kid who dressed grunge before it was cool, mostly out of necessity and not out of a desire to be hip. I spent most of my nights holed up in my bedroom and didn't do anything considered social, with church being the only exception. Heck, these days the only contact I have with people from high school that aren't my wife or related to me is limited to occasional Facebook postings.

But that's beside the point - some of my friends now were jocks in high school. Or had a lot of friends. Or were really good at math, or in a band. They can fix stuff. Stuff I never could do. So I wonder, if we were all placed back in high school, would they hang out with me? Would I want to hang out with them? Would I label them douchebags just for a few minor, yet scarring incidents in gym and the lunch room?

And that's the benefit of growing old. I can be as surly as I want, but I can still be all deep and philosophical. I'm sure Mr. I-Share-A-Name-With-Someone-Famous is probably a pretty decent guy with the same concerns and fears we all have as we head the short road to 40. Will I save enough money for my kids college? Will I have enough to retire on? Did I turn down the thermostat before I left the house?

And yet, I still can't help but call him the dreaded D-Word. Some people grow up. But I, I guess I grew...sideways.


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