Monday, June 27, 2011


So the word is usually modified with "old", and a codger is defined as usually an elderly man, somewhat eccentric or curmudgeonly. Well, since I was just as eccentric and curmudgeonly when I was a young man, I'm not sure I really mind the title. Curmudgeon is interesting in that it's official definition is "bad-tempered," but in modern times is has usuallly been used in reference to cynical or sarcastic commentators on life's absurdities, like H. L. Mencken, one of my personal heroes.
The film, Grumpy Old Men, starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau has been called a documentary on codgerhood and curmudgeonhood.

The film, Elegy, by Spanish director Isobel Coixet, whom I recently discovered and whose films as masterful epics of human behavior from a passionate perspective, is somewhat a celebration of old codgers. In this case played by Ben Kingsley as a sharp-tongued critic and Dennis Hopper as an outspoken poet. Kingsley's love interest is played by Penelope Cruz--and who wouldn't want to be labeled an "old codger" if she were part of the mix?

At the beginning of the film, Kingsley's character is looking out a window and we hear his inner soliloquy on growing older:

"I think it was Betty Davis who said 'Old age is not for sissies,' but it was Tolstoy who said, 'The biggest surprise in a man's life is old age.' Old age sneaks up on you and the next thing you know you're asking yourself, I'm asking myself, 'Why can't an old man act his real age?' How is it possible for me to still be involved in the carnal aspects of the human comedy? Because, in my head, nothing has changed."

And this pretty well sums up the aging experience for me--in my head, I'm still in my thirties. Maybe if I were a triathlete or involved in any other strenuous physical pursuit, I would notice more of a change. But as a reader, writer, and speaker, I seem to be able to do as much as I could thirty years ago. And I'm actually more disciplined and creatively productive now than I was then. So codger it is, and I'm kind of fond of that title, though instead of "old," I think I'd prefer it prefaced with the adjective, "creative."
Your friendly Creative Codger,

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