Monday, December 29, 2008

Mr. Cranky Pants

On the pages of The Greasy Skillet, readers get an airbrushed version of myself. Sure, muddywaters is real, but it doesn't tell the whole story of who I am. The unsavory facets of my personality aren't usually put on display for the public. Unfortunately, my wife and daughter endure my long list of faults, mutations of my personality that will probably never change.

I have a persona my wife and daughter refer to as Mr. Cranky Pants. The name says it all: Mr. Cranky Pants, an introverted, cynical, misanthropic, doomsayer who is annoyed by little things. The following are just a few things that might make him appear:
  1. Eating supper/dinner after 6:30.
  2. Eating lunch after 12:30.
  3. Breaking routine.
  4. Changing plans.
  5. Loud talking or shouting.
  6. Dining at restaurants because he starts calculating the money he could have saved by preparing the same dish at home.
  7. Going through a drive-thru lane
  8. Mix radio stations.
  9. The television show Reba.
  10. Fluff, pop cultural
  11. Computer-generated special effects in movies
  12. Politics
  13. Talking
As you can see, he can be a pain in the rear to live with, but my wife and daughter do a good job keeping him in check. They politely let me know when he's in the room, and they humorously suggest that it would be best if he could quickly exit. I'm learning to keep Mr. Cranky pants in his cage.

Not every post I write makes it to the pages of The Greasy Skillet. Crude material. Negativity. Political rants. Poor material. Any of these variables can result in a post never seeing the light of the day -- although, my blog is littered with poor material that slips through quality control. I also try to keep Mr. Cranky pants away from the keyboard. For example, he found his way to the keyboard last week in a post titled "Daddy Needs a Drink" that I never published. Here's a taste:

I feel like I've been sitting in the front row of the circus a bit too long, and I just realized they don't serve liquor. I'm not a front-row guy; I prefer to be on the fringes, observing things from afar. Daddy needs a drink or at least time alone with his skillet or time to work his sourdough into some bread. I'm going to make my way to the exit, so I'll have time for all of these things in the next week or so. As always, I'll keep you posted.

Later in the post, muddywaters takes the keyboard and tries to lighten the mood with a review of a recent book from The Greasy Bookshelf:

Until then, let me share some excerpts from My Jesus Year: A Rabbi's Son Wanders the Bible Belt in Search of His Own Faith by Benyamin Cohen. In addition to cookbooks, books about Presidents, Southern literature, and atlases, I enjoy books about man's search for meaning, especially when it comes to religion. I loved Cohen's book because of its humor. We need more books about religion that make us chuckle. The following is a sampling:

I have a red-and-green Starbucks coffee mug with Christmas decorations drawn on it along with the phrase "It only happens once a year." I'm not really sure what that slogan means. Elizabeth thinks it refers to the special Starbucks holiday flavors - the pumpkin spice latte, the gingerbread latte, the Tazo chai eggnog latte, and the popular peppermint mocha - which are only sold during the Christmas season. My guess is it has to do with Starbucks' attempt to pull on people's heartstrings, reminding them ever so cleverly that the holidays they love and the traditions they cherish only happen once a year, so embrace them. Enjoy them. And have some smooth Arabica coffee while you're at it.

Here's another humorous passage:

The difference between the customs of Jewish festivals and those of Christian ones can be summed up like this. Come December, you guys put a Christmas tree in your house. If this were a Jewish tradition, it would turn rather quickly and depressingly into a Talmudic dissertation on forestry. What kind of tree? How tall is it required to be? How many branches does it need to have? Can we outsource the purchasing of the tree or is the commandment itself the actual action of buying said foliage? But I digress.

Nonetheless, I still feel some of our holiday customs take the cake. Most modern-day Americans do not spend a week every year living in an eight-by-twelve-foot hut built on their driveway. Normal American holidays mean turkey. Present. Garlands. Why couldn't I just be normal? That's really all I ever wanted. Can't a Jew get a little tinsel?

Anyway, you can see that the post was a bit disjointed, but it really illustrates that keeping Mr. Cranky Pants in check is a full-time job and often takes the effort of an entire family. I'm grateful to be surrounded by people who love me despite my shortcomings.

May your flaws never become tragic flaws,


Rebel said...

How funny. I love the excerpt about the Christmas tree. I think that most everybody suffers from the cranky pants syndrome in some form. I know a lot of people that seem to fall out of that ugly tree on occasion. I reckon you're on the right path iffin you recognize it, especially with good humour.

Anonymous said...


On the other hand, as Chris in the Morning says, sometimes you have to do something bad just to remind yourself that you're alive. Steal a car stereo. Drive too fast. Whatever, but to each his own demons.

Embrace those demons. Howl the eternal yes. Look, linger, and then lash out. It's in our DNA. Being human is a complicated gig. We all want to be Skywalkers and Obi Wans, and for the most part, we are. But there's a little bit of Vader in all of us. The human dialectic... good and bad, not as equals, but equally important to all of us in some measure.

Face it, stare it down, embrace it, own it.

Because when you own it, you keep it from doing serious damage. Maybe a political rant, but not a political assassination. Maybe a tirade about the silliness of pop culture, but not a value judgement on anyone's worth in our society.

Today, I'm going to embrace my inner Cranky Pants. Because he's there, and denying that only makes him more dangerous.

(Sidebar: does quoting Northern Exposure make me a slave to pop culture?)

Rechelle said...

The Reba television show. Ha ha ha ha ha hee hoo har haw haw haw hoo hee! How about Reba anything! Ugh - I do not get the Reba thing! I don't know what a mix radio station is. Is the Laser a mix station? I love the Laser - except in the morning with that loud mouth crude D.J. Ugh - put him in the Reba pile. As to tragic flaws - how does one know when a flaw becomes tragic? Love spiritual journey books too. Except for this awful one I tried to read that was written by the lady that writes all the Vampire books - not the Mormon girl... the other Vampire book lady. She wrote a book about her spiritual journey and I could not make it past the first twenty pages. Boring! Ugh! Put that book in the Reba pile too!

Anonymous said...

the Reba pile.... new shorthand... nuff said.

Marianne said...

Dear Mr. Cranky Pants...You would not do well in my family of men who are loud, often shout and argue, talk politics and change plans all the time. :) Good thing you live with soft, gentle and understanding women folk.