Writing blogs is fun for the extra connection with family and friends such as the following. After I answered an email from J regarding his comment on last week’s blog, I ended my response with, “By the way, next week's blog is “Grumpy”. That's all I have. Just the title. Any preview on what that subject might conjure up for you?  This was his baffling and helpful follow-up email:

Grumpy? You mean as in (he used his own name) personified?  I have struggled with being a grumpy man my whole life, often wearing it as a badge of honor to support my countenance to "don't get too close or I might lash out."  WHY I lament.... WHY GOD have I desired to smile more, be more approachable and fail so easily when I’m married to a woman who smiles and attracts people like moths to a light? I heard a man just recently say. Why do you brush your teeth? Why do you wash your body?

The simple answer is, we do it out of habit to remove the odors and smells of bacteria that accumulate. In addition to health reasons, we PRACTICE, thru habit, washing our areas that become off-putting to people.... Well then, it reasons to encapsulate, that since we brush our teeth and wash our bodies for others as well as ourselves, we should consider ‘washing’ our attitudes too, knowing that a poor countenance or a "grumpy mean-mug" can be instantaneously off--putting to an otherwise hurting person that needs the warmth of a simple smile and hello. J.

I chuckled when I read his description of himself because the friend that I’ve known for many years has always come across as happy, friendly well-adjusted and in a good mood. And that’s what I wrote to him when I asked permission to use it as the introductory story.

First known use of grumpy was in 1778. Just for fun, I’m including some example sentences selected from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'grumpy.'

A "bad day" may consist of nothing more than rainy weather, a grumpy co-worker, and a slow internet connection. From Huffington Post

With one week before finals, she is a bit grumpy, but she does her own work.   From National Geographic

He was grumpy and short and went to bed early. From Dallas Morning News

I wouldn't say he's any more or less grumpy than the average citizen.                    From  The New Yorker

It's so easy to act grumpy or irritable. From Huffington Post

Don't be put off by their grumpy exterior. From Huffington Post

He was grumpy, but he listened to the voice on the other end. From ESPN

She played the bubbly orphan, taken in by a grumpy old man. From ABC News

Well, my own experience indicates that humans get grumpy after two nights. From Slate Magazine

Challenge a threat, and people tend to get, well, a bit grumpy. From Ars Technica

Replies to the question: “Is anyone in your family grumpy?” shed light.  “My husband gets up grumpy every morning and stays that way throughout the day.”  A friend emailed her answer. “Yes, my Uncle Ralph—my way or the highway! attitude.” Then that afternoon, I asked a stranger and her partner, who had knocked on my door to get a political signature, the same question and almost before I closed my mouth one of them piped up “My husband” and the other lady smiled agreeably, and said “Mine, too.” They asked to receive the blog.

Grumpy Variants: circle any that ring a bell.

complainy, crabby, cranky, cross, crotchety, grouchy, growling

irritable, peevish, prickly, quick-tempered, annoyed, evasive

short-tempered, snappish, impatient, sharp-tongued, testy, frustrated,

silent treatment, snappy, snarky, snippy, stuffy, grumbling, curmudgeon

Did your parents warn “don’t bother him/her yet?  They got up on the wrong side of the bed.”   Or our mom used the description ‘out of sorts’. What I’ve deducted is that everyone has exposure to a personal grump or two! Therefore, learning to cope with grumblers is as necessary as learning to listen better, talk less, and smile more. Coupled with those hefty challenges is also reviewing our personal claim to irritable expression capabilities which we possess that are sure to grind someone.  Which reminds me just now as I make notes about a memory involving a staff member who I passed and greeted every morning on my way into the guidance counselor office. One day she confronted me with “Do you have to smile and be happy all the time?”  I wanted to be a caring friend, so I softened my early-morning demeanor.

How about you? Do you tolerate anyone? That’s the question I used in women’s seminars. I’d wait a few minutes until their laughter and comments to their seat mates died down, then asked another “Do you suppose anyone tolerates you.? The room would get very quiet--rolled eyes make no noise. Isn’t it true, if we’ll be honest, that we sometimes get on our own nerves? I suppose everyone would be willing to swap attitudes at times.  But back to grumpy. Some people like the definition, curmudgeon, for grumpy. Is there a curmudgeon in your immediate family, at work, school, your neighbor or at church?  Could it be you, or me?  What might be common triggers? Add your own

Trying Situations:

overslept and will now be rushed and probably late

forgotten bill now has an overdue penalty

parts are missing the screwdriver has not been replaced                                                 unmade coffee, empty milk pitcher, negative outlook, impatience

misplaced keys, glasses or cell phone

irritation when people are not considerate of others searching for the paper/homework that must be taken to work/school                                                       dawdling family member empty gas tank, long line at the pump/grocery/traffic light popped button, no time to fix it dogs running through the house barking disrupting sleep

Situations involving being slowed, stopped or personally irritated are likely to stimulate anger. Understanding why we are being delayed reduces stress at times, but being stopped because of someone’s negligence or our own failure is usually dealt with an audible poor attitude expression. We’ve discussed that anger is not sin but actually, our friend. So, when anger is aroused, that’s the signal to examine the cause along with positive and reasonable solutions. Just as we overlook, understand or tolerate the audibly disgruntled over hapless situations, we need to accept our own—warts and all—with patience and assurance that we can soften our own attitudes and make adjustments by intentionally seeking to analyze time snags. Accepting how we are by God’s design but not allowing our bothersome tendencies to over-shadow our more attractive traits become a daily vigilance.

An interesting statement nestled in my research boggled my mind but may resonate helpfully for someone. ‘Being bad-tempered and pessimistic helps you to earn more, live longer and enjoy a healthier marriage. It's almost enough to put a smile on ...’  I’m still mulling that over, assuming it describes a person who is in competition with himself/herself, with goals of improving reputations and production.  My sibs and I learned patience and control from the modeling of our dear introverted mother.

In reflecting on Jim’s and my life together, long lines and missing tools provoked him the most.    I think because Jim, our children and I are Extroverted none of us was particularly moody or grumpy. So, it’s reasonable that the design of personalities also plays a significant role in grumpy tendencies.

clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other…Col. 3:12-13 (NIV)