Local Curmudgeon Syndrome

July Men's Room

If you’re a local, you know there is a price to pay for living in our beautiful community near the ocean:

Inland family and friends will definitely visit. And they will visit often. Sometimes unannounced. Sometimes on busy holiday weekends. And they will want to do all the same touristy stuff on all the same touristy days at all the same touristy times.

If you’ve lived in the area long enough, you may develop an ailment I call LCS (Local Curmudgeon Syndrome). LCS is little-discussed condition marked by a preoccupation with worst-case scenarios related to touristy summer recreation activities.

To determine if you or someone you love has LCS, answer the following questions:

1. How long has it been since you last visited the beach between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on a Saturday in June, July, or August?

A) A year

B) A decade

C) Are you crazy?

(I know a couple who drove to Wrightsville Beach on a busy Saturday in June, wandered around looking for a parking space for two hours, then finally just gave up and drove home!)

2. When your old high school buddy visits with his wife and three kids and insists on a day trip to Myrtle Beach, do you:

A) Tell him Myrtle Beach is temporally closed for fumigation?

B) Mention a recent NPR story linking miniature golf to impotence in middle-aged men?

C) Fabricate a gory news story of a brutal alligator attack at the reptile park his kids are whining to visit?

3. When family from the Midwest suggests, at the last minute, going to Southport to watch the Fourth of July parade, do you:

A) Shake your head at their ignorance of the insane crowds, long lines of traffic, and sparse parking?

B) Fake a migraine and offer to pay for an Uber?

C) Retire to your bedroom and scream into your pillow?

4. When out-of-town guests suggest going to Britt’s at 10 a.m. on a summer weekend morning, do you tell them the line for doughnuts will be:

A) At least 50 people long?

B) More than 100?

C) Literally endless?

5. When your brother-in-law suggests spending the day at a water park, do you guess that admission for your group of four adults and seven children will cost:

A) More than a man like him makes in a week?

B) More than you make in a week?

C) More than anyone should pay for the privilege of immersing their family in water churning with the urine of hundreds of strangers?

If you answered B or C to any of the questions above, you probably have LCS. While a mild case can be a useful coping mechanism, full-blown cases can seriously impede your summer enjoyment. Effective treatments for LCS include margaritas, naps, and trips to Asheville. Others find solace in religion, meditation, or aromatherapy.

Above all, never let your inner curmudgeon snuff out your hope in summer miracles. For hope, like a parking space at the L-shaped lot at noon during Memorial Day weekend, is a rare commodity and must always be treasured.


Dylan Patterson is a writer and filmmaker who teaches English at Cape Fear Community College.


To view more of illustrator Mark Weber's work, visit www.markweberart.blogspot.com.