1. THEY FOUGHT IN A WAR
WWII and Korean War vets have amazing anecdotes. Sure, it’s horrific to hear about fighter planes cutting people in half with lines of spraying bullets, but old guys know how to temper the bad with some hilarious good, like the time that guy took a shit in an officer’s shoe. The older Vietnam vets are fun to hang out with; the younger ones, not so much. Getting war stories out of them is like pulling teeth, and when they do finally give you some details, they get this lost look in their eyes that bums out the whole party.
2. THEY TELL GREAT STORIES
It’s not only their war stories that are a barrel of laughs. These guys have been honing their material for decades and have the whole “beginning, middle, and end” thing down to a science. I was lucky enough to hang out with Jimmy Kimmel’s uncle Frank a few years ago, and his yarns about being NYPD in the 1950s made me want to buy a time machine. “The amount of young ladies I was with back then would shock you,” he told me. “They loved the uniform and it loved them.”
3. THEY’RE POLITCALLY INCORRECT
They don’t even know “gook” is a bad word, and to hear racial epithets laced seamlessly into the dialogue evokes a time when we didn’t have to worry about such bullshit. Old men laugh in the face of every “ism” and “phobia,” and if that offends you, they laugh even harder—as Taki did when he was vilified for saying “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, and if you liked pussy, you’d still be with us” about Liberace’s death.
4. THEY’RE SELFLESS
He may be an old man now, but the second his first kid came out of his wife’s vagina, he peaced-out the whole idea of “me” and mentally switched it to “the family”—forever. He’d happily work seven days a week if it meant his family was provided for, and his idea of a midlife crisis was finding out his kid didn’t get into college (an opportunity he never had).
5. THEY DRESS PROPERLY
They never show up to the airport without a suit on. If it’s hot, they’ll have a seersucker with a perfectly broken-in straw fedora.
6. THEY TELL GOOD JOKES
Because they come from a time when everyone who wasn’t a WASP deserved to be made fun of, old men have an endless list of zingers that sound like a celebrity roast for multiculturalism. The culmination of all these was beautifully expressed in Gran Torino when Walt Kowalski says, “A Mexican, a Jew, and a colored guy go into a bar. The bartender looks up and says, ‘Get the fuck outta here.’”
They also love hearing good jokes like nobody else. When I told an old guy the best line I ever wrote—“My only problem with women breastfeeding in public is they never wink back”—he died laughing and then dragged me around the bar making sure I told every guy there.
7. THEY DON’T CHEAT
The beauty of living in a world untouched by feminism is the men actually, sincerely, honestly, revere women. Your grandfather never cheated on your grandmother, and if his best friend cheated on his wife, he wouldn’t talk to the guy for forty years.
8. IF YOU CROSS THEM, YOU’RE DEAD TO THEM
There’s no sense apologizing and begging for forgiveness, and you probably should have thought of that before you opened your stupid goddamned mouth and called him a liar. He was telling the truth, you asshole, and it was for your own good. As amazing old guy Horace Greeley put it back in olden times, “Fame is fleeting; popularity an accident; riches take wings. Only one thing endures: character.” Actions have consequences when you’re dealing with men of character.
9. THEY TAKE PRIDE IN THEIR WORK
Whether it’s fixing a faucet or painting a birdhouse, these guys bring their handmade wood toolbox to the job, do it right the first time, and neatly put everything away when they’re done. If you can’t eat off an old guy’s workbench, he’s not an old guy.
10. THEY’RE THE REAL DEAL
While couch potatriots and armchair activists sit indoors screaming through their keyboards, old dudes are walking softly outside with a big stick. They’re not particularly fond of fags, but platitudes such as, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” aren’t platitudes to old guys. They really will grab a gun and fight for you. They already did.