Curmudgeon Public Service Announcement: The Thoughtlessness Radar

Don't do this

Image by Martin Deutsch via Flickr

Why is it that certain rotten behaviors reach, for some, a level of acceptability in their own minds? Why do certain behaviors blip off the courtesy radar into “Well, everyone does it! Why shouldn’t I?”  Daily I see thoughtless acts by otherwise good people because they have become blind to what they’re doing (or not doing).  Here’s a list I’ve been compiling of what I’m talking about broken down in to categories:


  • Not putting your empty shopping cart in the parking lot corrals…especially when the darn thing is five feet away!
  • Throwing your cigarette butts on the ground (and especially near MY car!), often within twelve inch radius of a disposal receptacle.
  • Not bussing your table at fast food restaurants or picnic sites
  • Leaving your clothes in the dressing room in crumpled heaps on the floor
  • Leaving your shopping cart wherever you like when grabbing items from the shelf or yacking with your friends
  • Talking on your cell phone while your groceries are being rung up…and beyond


  • Driving your car up on the sidewalk to get to the mailbox unit (especially YOU dear neighbor who almost ran into me as I stood there getting my own mail);
  • Idling and blocking traffic while waiting for me to vacate my parking spot when there are many other spots a few feet away.  Double GRRRR if you honk at me too;
  • Not having a clue what you want at a fast food drive-through by the time you get to the ordering station;
  • Idling your cars along the curb so your precious darling doesn’t get cold waiting for the school bus but making it harder for drivers to spot children who might dart out between them;
  • Sidling along in the left lane (not a passing lane) until the last second then insisting on being allowed into the slower moving right lane to make a right, no turn signal on, of course, because that would tip me off to your nefarious plan!
  • Parking your car in front of MY house instead of my neighbor’s whom you are visiting, especially if you’re facing the wrong way (Ok, so I’m VERY territorial!)


  • Urging your dog to pee in my yard instead of yours; double grr if they poop and you don’t pick it up right away;
  • Blowing your nose at the table;
  • Abandoning your laundry at the coin-op once you’ve gotten your clothes into the dryer; No, I will NOT fold your clothes if I get sick of waiting for you to remove your items (thank goodness I don’t use coin ops anymore!)
  • Texting during movies–those ads at the beginning telling you to turn off your cell phone?  They mean YOU!
  • Leaving your trash behind in the movie theatre (I must confess to being blind to this until I met my husband.  No more.  Pack it in; pack it out.)
  • Breaking the spine on a paperback in a bookstore while you peruse / read it then leaving it behind or grabbing a “fresh” copy to buy;
  • Insisting on bringing oversized luggage as carry on so you’ll get free gate check-in while the rest of us paid $20-25 to check ours at the ticket counter;

It’s this type of thoughtlessness, and I might add in some cases, sense of entitlement, that drives me bonkers.

People…please don’t do these things!  We must nip them in the bud and reinforce for our children’s sake at least, WHY these behaviors are rude and inconsiderate.

~A Public Service Message from your darkly romantic curmudgeon.

Your turn.  Please share in the comments any thoughtless behaviors that drive you bonkers.

What Is a Darkly Romantic Curmudgeon?

A curmudgeon is:

  • A bad-tempered, difficult, cantankerous person. (
  • A crusty, ill-tempered, and usually old man (
  • An ill-tempered person full of resentment and stubborn notions. (

You get the idea.  Examples would include House (Hugh Laurie’s eponymous character), Andy Rooney from 60 Minutes (RIP), Hallmark’s Maxine, and The Grinch.  Amongst up and coming curmudgeons I’d include Sheldon, the physicist nerd from the Big Bang Theory, which also goes to show that not ALL curmudgeons are old.

Being a curmudgeon is a glass is half empty attitude. It’s the little old lady (played by Clara Peller) demanding “Where’s the Beef!” in the famous Wendy’s commercial of the 80s. It’s bracing for the worst (because everyone wants to rip you off) but secretly hoping for the best. It’s crusting over the outside to protect the tender, gullible insides.  I’d go so far as to say that within every curmudgeon is a sensitive but bruised soul.

So what is a darkly romantic curmudgeon? Isn’t romance the antithesis of curmudgeonliness? Well, yes and no. They are indeed yin and yang, opposites, but together they are pretty terrific. Let me explain.

People often say they “fall” in love, as if it’s not a natural state.  For curmudgeons, it’s not, but when we fall, we plummet.  Personally, I love reading stories where the hero or heroine stands atop a lofty perch built on arrogance or hubris, greatly increasing the distance of their forthcoming fall into the waiting arms of love.  The farther the fall, the greater the thrill in my tummy as I read.  I love to see the main character flailing about in mid-air, trying desperately (but failing) to grab hold of something familiar to check his or her fall.  It’s scary; it’s dark; it’s sarcastic; it’s grouchy; it’s curmudgeonly!  That character will fight tooth and nail denying love matters to them because they are deathly afraid no one will catch them before they strike the ground. Wise readers get that it’s all a front with a kind of smug omniscience, especially if they’ve been treated to the object of the affection’s point of view and know those arms are open and ready to receive…or will be if the object looks up.

So, favorite fictional romantic curmudgeons who demonstrate that reluctance or grouchiness I’m talking about?

  • Kate Daniels from Ilona Andrews’ urban fantasy series (who put up a hell of a fight against her eventual love interest)
  • Mr. Darcy (and probably Elizabeth Bennet too) from Pride and Prejudice (“Pride goeth before the fall”)
  • Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights (such evil that grew from love thwarted)
  • Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre (Boss of the Year award recipient…NOT!)
  • Ebenezer Scrooge from A Christmas Carol (ok, so he found a different kind of love at the end but that’s still what it was)
  • Margaret (Sandra Bullock) in The Proposal (another meanie boss but you just knew she was all gooey inside didn’t ya?)
  • Elizabeth Perkin’s character Joan in the 80’s brat pack movie, “About Last Night” (Ok, I threw that in there because Elizabeth and I were born on the same day and I really did like her snarky character in that movie)
  • Mr. Stevens (Anthony Hopkins) in Remains of the Day (remember what he was caught reading? a ROMANCE!  I rest my case.)

But how does the “darkly” part fit in?

All my heroes have dark hair?  Well, that’s true, but that’s not what it means.  Darkly, within my writing context, means I may (usually) include elements of dark humor in my stories, mostly sarcasm or snark.  The bad guys get to be funny occasionally, maybe even crack a few jokes.  At least that is what I’m striving for.  Humor is always subjective, of course.  I enjoy a happy ending as much as anyone else though, so I don’t see myself ever having the main character wiped out by a bus on her way to her wedding.  That’s a different kind of dark that I don’t mess with.

The best news about declaring myself a lover of darkly romantic curmudgeons and claiming the title for myself?  I am now a certificate-bearing member of the International Society of Curmudgeons:

I’d love to tell you more about the ISOC, but I’m currently angry with them for having the most annoying website I’ve ever visited.  When I calm down, I’ll tell you all about it.  Suffice to say the ISOC agrees with my self-designated title of Master Curmudgeon.