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Kelly Crigger Tries to Solve Riddle of Middle-Age Men in New Book

Kelly Krigger tries to put his finger on the problems facing middle-aged men in his new book about curmudgeons.

Kelly Krigger tries to put his finger on the problems facing middle-aged men in his new book about curmudgeons.

Kelly Crigger is standing up for middle-aged men who are having midlife crises in his new book, “Curmudgeonism: A Surly Man’s Guide To Midlife.” His prescription: “rediscover the world around you.”

Midlife men know who they are.

They’re struggling with their own impending mortality and legacy, especially those who change careers and lifestyles, says Crigger.

“Middle-aged men like me are under siege, beset on all sides by personal ambition, internal expectations, familial pressure, disillusionment, uncertainty and legacy,” he says.

“It’s a constant battle to balance the needs of the self and the needs of others and a struggle to discover which ones really take priority. Some win this battle and some tragically lose,” he adds.

The Three Stages of Curmudgeonism

Stage 1:

  • They hate inefficient people. A person who takes just as much time to pass off a task as it would have taken them to do it themselves is a douche.
  • They will reuse an item well past its life expectancy.
  • They hate to listen to a story that has no point or punch line. If you’re going to take ten minutes of my life to tell me about a fishing trip then it better end with you noodling out a 50 pounder with your penis or it’s just not worth it.
  • Stage 2:

  • Curmudgeons get a little more irascible.
  • They don’t feel like he’s owed anything and is quick to remind you that you aren’t owed anything either. Want a new Xbox? Go mow some lawns, kid.
  • They point out the obvious, even If it’s painful for someone in the room, albeit with slight reservation.
  • They still temper comments to a degree, but only if it means his wife or girlfriend will withhold sex, or his comments will make their way back to the wife or girlfriend who will react by withholding sex.
  • Otherwise all bets are off.
  • Stage 3:

  • Curmudgeons are finding a piece of intellectual real estate to plant their flag and say “This is me. This is where I stand.
  • They would be happier if you agreed with him, but if you don’t, stay away and leave him be.
  • They don’t have the time or inclination to argue with you.”

In an exclusive Q&A with IM, Crigger talks about what it means to be a curmudgeon.

IM: How would you describe being a curmudgeon?

Crigger: When you get to a certain age you are set in your ways and beliefs and won’t be told you have to change. Curmudgeonism is about not apologizing for who you are and what you stand for. I am who I am and though you may think I’m a crazy old man yelling at kids to get off my lawn I’m really just a middle class father and husband who has high standards and won’t take anyone’s crap.

A curmudgeon is not a grump, grouch, or snob, which confuses the life out of people when you tell them there’s actually a difference. A curmudgeon may evolve into one of those eventually, but we’re not the completely irascible types who are mean for no reason.

IM: What are the sure fire signs that you’re a curmudgeon?

Crigger:: There are a lot of signs. There are 3 stages of curmudgeonism and lots of ways to identify each stage. (see sidebar)

IM: Who are the top 3 most well-known curmudgeons?

Crigger:: W.C. Fields and Winston Churchill for sure. The third one is tough. There are some great sourpusses out there like Henry Louis Mencken, George Bernard Shaw, Hunter S. Thompson and Oscar Wilde but I guess Lewis Black would be my third choice.

IM: You’re married. How does a curmudgeon interact with that?

Crigger:: The same way anyone would. My wife probably tempers my curmudgeonism because I air my frustrations on her instead of the rest of the world. I learned a lot about life from watching my family and their interactions with others, so they’re the source for some of my material. I think having a family can boost curmudgeonism because when you have something to fight for, you get a little surlier.

IM: Tell us about your other books.

Crigger:: I wrote four books about Mixed Martial Arts because I was enamored by it for a long time. I was in the Army and understood why guys like me took risks. We did it for the good of the community. Military, firefighters, EMTs, police, they all do risky things for the benefit of others. But guys who walked into a cage and slugged it out with another guy for a few hundred bucks — I didn’t get it

IM: The publishing world has changed dramatically in the last few years; how would you describe the climate for a book like this?

Crigger:: Writing a book isn’t the hard part of publishing. If you have something to say and are driven to say it, then you will write a book. Marketing a book is the hard part. Convincing anyone to spend money to listen to you speak is very difficult and takes time and effort.

Targeting middle-aged men (or women who want to understand their middle-aged man) is hard. I hope middle-aged men find something in these pages to say, ‘Yeah, I feel the same.’ Or maybe guys approaching middle age will find something to look forward to, or dread. This book might actually scare the crap out of them.

IM: You wrote this book for men but say the real market might be women. Why?

Crigger:: I’ve had a couple of women tell me they found truth in the pages that apply to them and who they really are, which was surprising, but I guess some things cross boundaries.

Maybe women will gain some insight on what their man is going through. Men get squirrelly when we look in the mirror and realize half of our life is over. It changes us and we do and say things we didn’t before. Some women can’t deal with that, so maybe this will help them understand us.

IM: Are we to 100 percent believe the curmudgeons?

Crigger:: Absolutely. We’re right because we’ve spent 40-50 years learning what works and what doesn’t and can’t be convinced otherwise. We are the proverbial old dog that can’t be taught new tricks because we know the old tricks are tried and true.

IM: How would you describe the best audience for this book?

Crigger:: Mostly men and some women who are growing uncomfortable with the world around them. The people who should read this are the people who want to say, “YEAH! That’s the way the world should be!” Curmudgeons are surly because we know there’s so much to be surly about. We look at the world with clarity. We know it sucks and people will only disappoint you if you give them a chance.

IM: What is your next book going to be?

Crigger:: I may attempt a more biographical work. Or, maybe a Curmudgeons sequel.

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