Archived Story

Comments by a columnist — me!

Published 12:56am Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Yes, I’m an old fuddy-duddy; someone has to do the job.

A fuddy-duddy is a person who is old-fashioned (probably), pompous (occasionally), unimaginative (never) or concerned about trifles (only when the trifle includes lady fingers, vanilla pudding, jam and whipped cream).

Perhaps I’m just a fuddy. I once knew a person whose last name was Duddy, but that has nothing to do with this column.

Or I could be an old fogy (also spelled fogey, which my husband prefers). A fogy is a person with old-fashioned ideas, of which I am occasionally guilty. And there are times I admit to being an old battle-ax. (You notice all these assignations manage to use the word old with them.)

Originally a battle ax was a broad ax used as a weapon of war; today we add old and a battle ax becomes a quarrelsome, domineering woman. Surely not I, but you’d better ask my husband about that. And what’s a broad ax? A large ax with a broad blade — that makes sense.

But old fuddy-duddy says it best. I’m all for old-fashion courtesy and decorum. Courtesy is a word pretty much understood by all of us, but what about decorum? Decorum demands good taste in conduct and appearance. Decorum is definitely on the decline; courtesy isn’t far behind.

Do you see as many people as I do who look like bums as they shop in the supermarket, visit the library, dine in restaurants, teach in classrooms and just walk down the street? A bum is a vagrant, a dissolute and a worthless person. Do any of us really want to fit that category?

What is it about sloppy, ill-fitting, falling down, unattractive and slovenly clothing that people desire to wear it? Do clothes affect the way a person conducts himself? I have no statistics, but my gut feeling is it does.

As an old fuddy-duddy, I’m also critical of television commercials that depict police officers acting like hoodlums as they speed recklessly to reach a fast-food establishment. What message is that sending our children? And that’s just one of the TV spots I condemn.

Or perhaps I’m a witch — not the variety that rides a broomstick with a black cat as a companion, but a mere mortal credited with being malignant. Not me — but I confess my broomstick is in the repair shop, and while I have a cat, she is gray with a white face and white mittens. If I have any supernatural powers, as a witch must, it is scaring little children who misbehave. Have you discovered that a tight grip on the upper arm of a too-rambunctious youngster will get his attention, and prompt good behavior, faster than any scolding or yelling? Heaven knows we don’t want any yelling.

I’m not referring to my own children, who have long flown the nest and prepared nests of their own. In fact, I’ll be a great-grandmother for the third time in October.

I’m talking about those little bad-actors in Sunday school classes, at noisy birthday parties and in classrooms where there is a substitute teacher. That firm grip on the upper arm of a mischief-maker works like a charm.

I know no one who aspires to be a devil-may-care even if the designation doesn’t refer to Satan. It applies to people who are reckless, rakish and/or informal. Doesn’t sound like me.

Or who wants to be a namby-pamby? The name itself is offensive enough, and when you consider a namby-pamby lacks in character or substance, is silly, insipid, weak and indecisive, who wants it!

How about a shrew or a clown? I’m not filling those shoes. While a shrew is a small, chiefly nocturnal animal with a pointed snout and small eyes, it is also an ill-tempered woman. Didn’t William Shakespeare write something about the taming of such a creature?

As for a clown, we all know he is a grotesquely dressed comedy performer in the circus. We’ve seen dozens of them spill out of a tiny car that appears built for a midget. But a clown may also be a rude, ill-bred person; a boor; a fool or a farmer countryman — that last is news to me.

As for a roly-poly, which is what some people call a person who is short and pudgy, I don’t think I qualify. Oh, I might have a “pudge” here and there, but I›m not short. Of course, a roly-poly is also a sweet dough spread with a filling, rolled up and baked.  I like the sound of that — bet Mike Voss does, too.

So I’m back to old fuddy-duddy. As I said at the beginning of this column, someone has to do the job.

Polly Unterzuber may be reached by email at

Editor's Picks

Pay raise proposal leaves too many questions

On April 5, Gov. Pat McCrory announced his proposal for an average 5-percent pay raise for teachers, as well as larger bonuses across the board, ... Read more

Higher expectations required

It’s time to vote again. Today represents a monumental day in which all citizens can exercise their right to vote. Many don’t. Primaries often have ... Read more