I never had a chance to meet my Nagypapa (Grandfather), which is probably why I have such a fascination with crotchety old men. Old men are just so funny with their high socks, ugly plaid pants, randomly dispersed ear and/or nose hair, and their general distaste for the world. It’s like no matter how hot some 20-something year old guy is, you know eventually he’s going to turn into a withered old angry Yoda-character, shouting at the neighbor’s kids for their lack in musical taste… and that’s just hilarious.

The king of crotchety little old Italian men, Benino, lives next door to my boyfriend. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, rain or shine, Benino stands outside, judging my boyfriend’s lawn. Whenever a weed pops up or the lawn grows to be 0.0001 mm above his own lawn, he says, “Why you no take care of you grass?” He then also walks up and down the sidewalk, peeking into peoples’ cars and commenting on how dirty their are and how they could probably use a good “Vax and Vash”.

I suppose this is a good thing, so when someone decides to rob the house, Benino will see the whole thing. Sure, he probably won’t stop the burglar or even call the cops, but he might criticize the burglar’s getaway vehicle and choice in ski masks. “Vhy you vere so mush black, you look like you about to go to you mamma’s funeral!” Who knows, maybe then the robber will get depressed and steal the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in the freezer, rather than the 42″ Plasma Screen in the living room.

Last week, I went outside to transplant some pretty vines in the infamous garden and try to nurse my dying mint plant back to health. Once I stood up to refill my watering can, Benino spotted me and ran over while shaking his finger in my direction.

“Why you no give you plants a drink?!”
I pointed to the cheap green plastic watering can in my hand. “I’m watering them right now, Benino, what’s the problem?”
“Yah, but you forgot yesterday!”

“I don’t live here, Benino, take it up with the house full of bachelors.”

Benino looked down, grimaced, and started muttering something to himself in Italian. Just then, a woman put her head out of the kitchen window and grimaced out the window. I waived to her awkwardly and she immediately perked up. “HALLO!” she yelled out the window.
Benino didn’t even turn around. “Yah.. Dats….mah wife,” he said, loosely gesturing behind him. She continued to smile and waive wildly, just like those wavy arm guys you see at the used car lots.
By the time I looked back over at Benino, he was on his hands and knees, ripping out all the vines that I had just planted.
“Ah! Benino! What are you doing?! I’m trying to get them to grow up the railing!”
“You crazy, you be planting weeds in yo garden!”
Nagymama would be so disappointed in my garden; I cultivate all the weeds and kill all the plants. No wonder Benino stands guard over our lawn! He must be afraid that I’m going to pour plant killer all over the grass and water the dandelions. Hmm, you know what, that might not be a bad idea….dandelions are kinda cute and poofy…