Sunday, July 7, 2013

In Praise of Grumpy People

I have one cheerful child.  Which feels like a mismatch.  I certainly don't regret having this child, nor do I wish to trade in the rest of the family, the whole funny, grumpy, quirk-filled, moody, delightful lot of them.  What I'm saying is that I have no idea how we got the cheerful one. 

You'd think all the chocolate we consume around here would arrest our grumpiness, but no, it just keeps the chocolate industry alive.

Maybe you're a more cheerful type.  And maybe you wouldn't like Elizabeth Strout's story collection, Olive Kitteridge, and its grumpy, gangly, aging and blunt namesake heroine.  She is a retired junior high math teacher, the kind the students feared.

As for myself, I have no business playing better-than-thou to grumpy people.  And I kind of liked all these stories where Olive wove in and out, sometimes the star, sometimes a bit player, sometimes absent while the author highlighted some of the other washed-up citizens of Crosby, Maine.

Look a little closer and under that crusty exterior, Olive possesses a warm heart.  She talks a former student out of a vague but desperate act.  She breaks through the shell of an anorexic girl.  She makes peace with an enemy.  One night when she ends up in the hospital and disaster strikes, Olive turns up as the bravest of them all.

Her sorrows are deep and it isn't fun when she finally has to face the pain she has caused. 

But I liked her.

One of the things that makes me grumpy is going without food.  So after today's fasting, I cheered myself and everybody else up with --

Cheesy Beef Spirals, in which one piles nearly every gooey processed dairy product that can be found in a supermarket

Please send me your ideas for using up the rest of the Velveeta. 

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