Humour

7 ways to tell if you're a Grumpy Old Man

As Larry David's cult hit 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' returns to TV, we look at the quirks that make someone a 'happy' sourpuss

08 October 2017 - 00:00 By Nick Curtis
Actor Larry David attends the 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' season 9 premiere at SVA Theater on September 27, 2017 in New York City.
Actor Larry David attends the 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' season 9 premiere at SVA Theater on September 27, 2017 in New York City.
Image: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Larry David's cult comedy Curb Your Enthusiasm returns to television after a six-year hiatus, with the misanthropic lead character - a thinly fictionalised version of David himself - joined by a new host of guest stars including Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston.

Cause for three cheers? Surely a pained half-smile will suffice. For if David's brilliant anti-sitcom has taught us anything, it's that it's OK to give up on false jollity, excessive professions of affection, small talk, banter and bonhomie - being a Grumpy Old Man is, to coin his catchphrase, pretty, pretty good.

Oh, the relief. Fiction has given us plenty of bad-tempered churls: Shakespeare's Timon, Dr Seuss's Grinch and Sesame Street's Grouch, Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau and Richard Wilson's Victor Meldrew. (Indeed, fans shouting Meldrew's catchphrase "I don't belieeeeve it!" at him turned the genial Wilson into a bit of a curmudgeon himself.) But these characters are essentially figures of fun, their misanthropy worthy of mockery, whereas Larry David is a hero.

His attitudes may bring divorce, disaster and buttock-clenching social embarrassment on his head, but he perseveres, remaining honest and a stranger to false kindness. He's taught men the world over to embrace their inner Grumpy Old Man.

Here are the seven ways to tell if you're one too:

1. YOU ARE IMPOSSIBLE IN RESTAURANTS

When eating out you are certain that the portions are either too small or too big, that the print on the menu is unreadable, it's too dark, it's too bright, it's too noisy, it's like a tomb, it's too cold and WHY ARE THEY SERVING EVERYTHING ON SLATES?

Certain trigger-words on menus are sure to provoke a reaction, especially "jus", "pan-fried" and "artisanal". You are also perturbed by the cost of onions nowadays. And milk doesn't taste like it used to. Not that you really know, as your palate was shot to pieces ages ago.

2. CLOTHES EXIST FOR FUNCTION, NOT FASHION

If you are in a relationship, you long ago gave up on trying to impress your other half with your sartorial flair.

You refuse to buy any new shirts until you have 'worn out' the ones you own

If you are single, your eye will probably be drawn to someone younger, but you will be invisible to them. This is because cardigans, corduroys, and shoes that look like Cornish pasties have at some point been mysteriously sucked into your wardrobe.

What's more, you refuse to buy any new shirts until you have "worn out" the ones you own, even the ones you don't like.

3. TECHNOLOGY REFUSES TO CO-OPERATE WITH YOU

You're fine with mobile phones, email, even Facebook, but at the mention of Instagram or Amazon's Alexa you adopt the expression of a donkey watching a card trick. You yearn for the days of four (or even three) TV channels and one remote control. And you laugh at the young people buying turntables for vinyl records because you've still got yours. Sorry, hipsters - we were there first time around.

WATCH the trailer for Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 9

4. YOU HAVE REPLACED CONVERSATION WITH COMPLAINTS

If someone asks how you are, you don't say "fine", or even stretch to "well", but embark instead on a litany of physical ailments, imagined slights and grumbles about the state of the world (you blame Theresa May personally for the fall in the pound). Plus you can't stand up from a seated position without emitting a loud groan.

5. WATCHING TV AT HOME IS YOUR FAVOURITE PASTIME

Finally - finally! - it is deemed an acceptable evening activity to settle down on the sofa with a glass of wine and a good show. (None of those box sets, mind you.) Let's be honest: Theatre? Too expensive. Music concerts? Nowhere to sit down. Even the cinema, with its endless adverts and decibel-busting popcorn munchers, has been sent to try you.

6. YOU BALK AT THE SO-CALLED EVOLUTION OF LANGUAGE

Like David, who excoriates people who say "LOL" instead of actually laughing, you find yourself enraged by the fact you can no longer merely order a coffee, but must ask for a "vanilla bullsh - latte cappa-thing".

You're enraged by the fact you can no longer merely order a coffee, but must ask for a 'vanilla bullsh - latte cappa-thing'

You've become a lingua-pedant of the highest degree. You still pointedly order "chips" anywhere that deigns to offer "fries", and you also hate anyone who uses the rising inflection at the end of each sentence, or who prefaces every second word with "like".

7. YOU JUST DON'T CARE

Age has put things in perspective. You realise you have lived longer than your ancestors, enjoyed better food, housing and healthcare, and a prolonged period without a world war. You can even console yourself in the face of ill health and death with the thought that all those would-be-immortal youngsters will go through this one day, too. - The Sunday Telegraph