Here's the thing - people hate salty, bitchy, eccentric old women. Even salty, bitchy, eccentric younger women hate them. Why? That's you in 25 years, dummy! Recognize!
I like tough, grouchy old women because I find them to be kind of charming, and oftentimes, that brand of no-fucks-giving eccentricity is a sign or byproduct of above average intelligence. Most people would have to agree that a quick survey of the most intelligent people they know also contains the fussiest, most self-embattled people they know.
This Bette Davis appearance on Dick Cavett inspired me to explore this topic. Look at her! Wearing a mink beret and Emma Peel boots, and looking good. She's sassy and funny but you know she could attack at any time.
I have a weird relationship with battleaxes in that I almost always get along with them while the rest of the world avoids or merely tolerates them depending on their level of importance. I don't find their gruffness to be a personal affront, and I seem to know how to talk to them in a way that quickly gets me out of their bitch zone. Did you see The Horse Whisperer? Like that. It's amazing what funny little skills we develop based on adaptations made for survival in childhood. My family is filled with "difficult personalities," and I grew up in a coven of old women and their friends. I'm in. I'm one of them.
That's not to say that all crotchety old women are secret-charmers with valuable things to share with the world. Like most old men, some old women are just bastards, perversely spreading their sourpuss misery as widely as they can. I worked in retail as a kid, and the most unfairly, unpredictably mean people by far were old men, and then women of menopausal age. Sorry - realtalk.
Since entering the museum world, I have been exposed to lots of eccentric old women, and I have cultivated positive relationships with them all while the rest of our peers can't stand them. At the same time, I have a very difficult time connecting with those bubbly, frivolous persons most loved in their little networks. I find them irritating, and they find me off-putting. I belong to another world, and we'd all prefer that I stay there.