Me? Cantankerous?

I have a hunch I am not going to be a sweet old lady when I become elderly, one of those geriatric dears everyone loves because . . . well, I don’t know why people like them. I just know I’m not going to be one of them. I’m going to be the crotchety old crank who won’t give an inch, and who has nothing but contempt for the fools who manage to find their way into her orbit.

Oh, wait. I am that crank now.

After class today (where I kept my mouth shut when our exercises were interrupted with a political harangue by a woman who didn’t know what the hell she was talking about), we went to a nearby restaurant for lunch. We all ordered the same thing, windexcept I added an extra condiment, which made my bill 80 cents more than everyone else’s. But I was charged almost $2.00 more. I pointed out the discrepancy, and the cashier told me they gave me the same discount they gave everyone else. I tried to explain that they gave me a 10% discount on one item, not the total bill. I should have just shut up and let the matter go, but the more the two young women ganged up on me, arguing that they were right, the more I dug in my heels. I can’t say it was the money that bothered me, can’t even say it was the principle of the thing. It was simply a matter of their rudeness and their refusal to concede they might be wrong. (The way I see it, the world would be a lot better off if people just listened to me. 🙂 )

And I was cranky.

After all that, I didn’t feel like eating, so I told them to give me my money back. They said they couldn’t do that — the manager would have to do a refund, but the manager wasn’t there. So I took the food home and gave it to my very strange roommate.

I apologized to my companions for making a scene. My dance teacher said I had to calm down, I’ve been too nervous lately. She asked if I were worried about our upcoming belly dance performance or my trip, and I said no, though the truth is, upon reflection, I find I am nervous about both things.

I enjoy our small performances, but the big productions we participate in at the college a couple times a year are not fun for me. It’s a huge commitment of time (for example, on dress rehearsal day we are there from about 1:30pm to 10:30pm, though we are on stage approximately 6 minutes total for our two dances.) There is a level of competence expected that I so often cannot meet and, for some reason, this year I have become self-conscious about how I look on stage. It didn’t bother me the first time we did a belly dance, mostly because for me it was about laying it all out there, saying “this is me.” But that was then, and this is now. I am two years older, no thinner, and I hear the echo of a friend telling me after our last performance that we looked ridiculous, us older folk among the energetic college kids. (A friend I’ve since dropped.)

And I am having second thoughts about taking a trip in winter in an El Nino year. It is frigid here in the desert, the winds have been fierce, and there seems to be more precipitation than normal, which makes me wonder what it will be like elsewhere. I worry about traveling in unsafe conditions, especially since drivers lately seem to have gone berserk. Three times today alone, drivers moved into my lane with apparently no sense I was there. Luckily, all three times, I was able to move into the next lane or slow down without incident.

So yes, I am a bit anxious, though not enough to be losing sleep over. Mostly, I’m just cantankerous.

Want to make something of it?


(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)