A curmudgeon is one who does something for himself, and be damned the response of society.
A curmudgeon mows his lawn naked. He makes a roost out of netting and twine in the backyard to view the stars more easily, and leaves it up because it’s easier than taking it down. He pays for things in cash to avoid a paper trail. He farts in a crowded room and blames it on his neighbor. He farts alone and blames the dog.
A curmudgeon sees the inevitability of the global cyber awareness, and leaps into action. He asks a question of the professor in a crowded classroom even though the answer will delay the end of the class, for which the other students fervently pray. Fuck them; he paid money to be in that classroom! He will get his money’s worth!
A curmudgeon abides by his own rules. He may be gossiped about by his neighbors, but he doesn’t care; what could possibly be gained by caring what the neighbors think? If they have so much spare time in their lives that they can fritter it away by gossiping about their neighbors, they’re insane. A curmudgeon knows this. He takes it into account.
A successful curmudgeon’s only obligation to civilization is really an obligation to himself: the responsibility to avoid being jailed by that civilization for too many flagrant displays of curmudgeonhood. Because a jailed curmudgeon is an unsuccessful curmudgeon.
A successful curmudgeon acts to minimize the possibility of being jailed by minimizing his contacts with civilization. The easiest way to do that is to avoid living in suburbia. In the woods, it’s easy to be a curmudgeon because there are no witnesses; even the dullest curmudgeon is a successful curmudgeon in the woods.
In the city, it’s almost as easy to be successful, because the number of curmudgeons is so high that it’s practically impossible for sober society to take them all down.
It’s only in suburbia where witnesses have enough time to spare to efficiently persecute the curmudgeon, and therefore it’s in suburbia where the only successful curmudgeon is a wily curmudgeon. Paradoxically, since one of the hallmarks of curmudgeonhood is a lack of wile, the suburban curmudgeon is a rare beast indeed.
I’m not saying I’m a curmudgeon….yet. I just envy the hell out of them.