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I’m my own 21st century grandpa

That might sound funny, I know, but it really is so

Jeffrey Denny

You know the old song, “I’m my own grandpa”?

About the guy who was married to a widow who had a daughter that his father married, and “This made dad my son-in-law/And changed my very life/My daughter was my mother/’Cause she was my father’s wife” etc.?

None of that lineage applies to me. Still, coming on 62, I’m becoming my own grandpa. Disturbing evidence:

1.I like to stay home and be left alone to grumble over the daily newspaper.

Which appears on my front porch every day on newsprint even though the newspaper is also on my iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air where it saves trees and climate-warming ink. I just like rustling the paper version.

While I’m reading the paper on the front porch, I don’t want any neighborhood Dennis the Menace or Denise the Menace or any non-binary pesky kids coming over thinking I’m a lovable curmudgeon and don’t really mean it when I say “Scram! Or I’ll call Child Protective Services and have you taken away because your parents are insane free-range childhood militants and probably didn’t vaccinate you!

2. I can’t make technology work.

I’m cool with new stuff like IoT, AI, self-driving Ubers that kill pedestrians, robotics that kill jobs and the iPhone XS Max with the A12 bionic chip.

My big problem is with Microsoft Word, introduced 30 years ago when the Ford Taurus was a hot sweet ride.

Specifically, what’s up with Microsoft Word bullets? Why don’t Microsoft bullets do exactly what I tell them to? Why do they defy me, like when I want a hollow bullet indented with the same spaces as the other hollow bullets?!

Why does Microsoft Word try to take control and tell me what I want, like science fiction robots taking over humans that created them, or a spouse I don’t have for precisely that fear?

While on the subject, why, when Netflix that I pay for doesn’t work, it says “please try again later”? When exactly should I try later? What should I do differently to make Netflix work? I need to watch terrible movies that never made it to the theaters. If not now, when?

3. I walk into my local Whole Foods at 10 a.m. on a Wednesday and complain about the produce.

The barely minimum-wage women and men stocking the produce don’t completely understand my shouted English and laugh at my privileged First World ire and self-righteousness.

But I think Whole Foods has gone way downhill since Amazon took over.

Look at these so-called “heirloom tomatoes.” How are these “a valuable object that has belonged to a family for several generations,” as the dictionary defines “heirloom”? Plus they taste more like Whole Foods paper bags (I forgot to bring my own bags) than the delicious tomatoes I don’t remember from my youth.

Forget about the Whole Foods deli section. If Barney Greengrass at Amsterdam near 86th can put out a delicious smoked fish worth serving guests, then why can’t the big important billionaire Jeff Bezos?

4. I’ve dated grandmas.

That’s right: I’ve canoodled with mothers who have children who are parents. Don’t ask what canoodling is because you don’t want to know and if you do, I promise you’ll regret the thought of it.

5. I watch and quote hilarious lines from TV shows from 25 years ago, starting with “Seinfeld.”

Just like my grandparents did with I Love Lucy, Father Knows Best, Ozzie and Harriet, and Leave it to Beaver. Also with the lesser known The Dennis O’Keefe Show, The Red Buttons Show, The Stu Erwin Show and The Hank McCune Show sponsored by Peter Paul Candy and Lewis Foods.

(“Hank always had good intentions but was easily confused and his curiosity continually got him into some outrageous predicaments,” according to “Single Season Sitcoms, 1948–1979: A Complete Guide,” by Bob Leszczak. Hilarious.)

6. Big chain store background music, previously insufferable Muzak, is now my cool music.

Container Store rocks the house and I hum and air-guitar and -drum along to New Order, OMD, The Cure, The Smiths, Pet Shop Boys and Tears for Fears.

I heard Talking Heads at Target and Elvis Costello at the CVS health clinic while waiting to have a chronic rash misdiagnosed. Bowie, Queen, Zeppelin and other nostalgia rock is hot and Prince is still very much alive at the Dollar Store. Amazon uses Supertramp for holiday ads.

And just like my grandparents, I think Tony Bennett is so cool.

7. I think about armrest covers.

The armrests on my favorite chair are threadbare down to the stuffing and I wonder about getting covers like our aunts put on instead of just getting a new chair.

My chair was from Crate & Barrel 25 years ago but it’s still good and comfortable. The odd stains don’t matter and I don’t see them without my readers anyway.

8. I have an old sports car I don’t drive.

It’s hotter and sweeter than Thai food and I love it.

But mostly I pay Geico, put my specialty mechanic’s kids through college, and look at the car as it dries and dies internally for lack of driving.

It’s hard to get in and out of, and the sporty ride is bumpy and tough on my lumbago.

Plus, my other car, a small planet-saving SUV, is more comfortable and practical for daily use and also has Bluetooth so I can listen to New Order, OMD, The Cure, The Smiths, Pet Shop Boys, Tears for Fears, Talking Heads, Elvis Costello, Bowie, Queen, Zeppelin, Prince and Supertramp through the speakers from my phone.

9. My primary care physician knows me too well.

And not just because he’s repeatedly invaded my Netherlands like the Nazis after bombing Rotterdam. We’ve been together 20+ years, making our intimate relationship practically the most successful of my adult life.

Also, in my iPhone contact list I have an orthopedist, gastroenterologist, ophthalmologist, dermatologist and a pulmonologist, and also a therapist to deal with my angst about not having a spouse and also my doctor’s invasion of my Netherlands.

10. I make a noise like “agghhhhhhh” when I sit down or get up from a comfortable chair.

Unless there’s a GILF in the vicinity.

Then I suck it in, puff my chest, square my shoulders, rustle my newspaper and try to ascertain the size of her retirement assets and if she might have a retirement beach house. Where we could head into our final years together, I hope without her non-binary grandchildren pestering me.

Jeffrey Denny is a Washington writer

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