Thursday, May 28, 2009

Big Boys Don' t Cry

I didn't plan to post a blog this morning but use my early morning time to read everyone else's blogs. I enjoy catching up on what you all are doing. But I'm about five blogs into it, when I find a short blog by a woman of no importance

BAGMAN: There's no such thing!

(ignoring and continuing) and the blog had pictures of Paul Newman, Ben Stiller, and Woody Harrelson sort of crying. Wanting, of course, to leave a cute little comment, I began to think of my own pretty vast experience with not crying and, as usual, digressions began to pour from my eyes.

I suppose, as a kid, I tried to be tough. I emulated the Lone Ranger and Gene Autrey and Superman and Flash Gordon. (But then again, the Lone Ranger wore a mask, so how would you know?)

My grandmother told me that they worried about me when I was six and my mother died because I didn't cry. She says I just sat for a couple of weeks with a blank stare.

Hmm. A line for a poem sometime? "Tears seared in by burning of the heart..."

I don't want to admit this, but I guess I did buy into the Big Boys Don't Cry myth to some extent in my early adult years. At least my goal in life was to be Earnest Hemingway and I'm not sure I can imagine Hemingway crying. Well, I can now. But I couldn't then.

But being basically a sensitive, intelligent man, I confronted the idea of crying more honestly...probably in my late twenties or early thirties. But by then I had confused my wiring pretty well and found it very difficult. In college I gave up on another career goal of being a movie star when heard an actor talking about his he can cry on cue. I could learn to sing, dance, and do dangerous stunts but didn't think I could learn to cry on cue.

Over the years, I have bemoaned the fact that I am lousy at crying. Good at bemoaning, however.

I've studied in depth and there are an infinite reasons or stimuli for crying.

BUTLER: Don't exaggerate! You have only thought about it for five minutes after reading the unimportant lady's blog, for crying out loud!

BAGMAN: Cheap pun.

Okay and, off the cuff, I can only think of a couple of reasons: (1) physical pain and (2) emotional pain.

Physical pain is easy. Well, not easy to endure, just easy to explain. Sudden pain like when Karen tossed me a can of chili last night when I wasn't looking and it hit me in the...(insert your favorite euphemism for male reproductive organs), brings tears immediately to the eyes and might cause crying although for me it more likely causes a loud, intense, and embarrassing series of bad words. Pain that comes on more slowly and grows in strength could cause crying although for me it usually induces moaning (as opposed to bemoaning) and unattractive whining.

Emotional pain is the real kicker for men. Fortunately it usually occurs in the dark of movie theaters at the end of romantic movies. Personally, I think it is caused more by a reaction to the musical score since I once had the same emotional reaction at the end of a movie after sleeping through all but the last five minutes. This kind of crying starts swelling in the chest that feels like some kind of emotional gas that needs to be released through the eyes and mouth. Like trying to supress a sneeze.

Which leads, of course, to a digression question: Why do women have the same problem with sneezing that men have with crying? It drives me crazy to see a woman swell all up, take a deep breath, roll up her eyes, and then "explode" with a polite little "tsst." When I sneeze, I want the neighbors to hear it!

BAGMAN: "Okay, Gabby, wrap it up!"

Now that I am mature and secure enough with my manhood to be comfortable with crying, I'm still untrained and unskilled at it. Part of this is the fact that being able to cry is important to me and I think too much about it. Consequently, when something causes emotions to well up inside me and my heart is aching and a tear seeps out and a sob begins to work its way up my throat. On cue, immediately, my over-active thoughts leap into action and say, "Hey! You're about to cry! Don't hold it back! Is it really a cry? Is it more than one sob? Two sobs? Three?" And standing like either an observant scientist or a hopeful cheerleader, I completely lose touch with whatever emotion had started the process. And, once again, I left tearless, standing like a big dumb big boy not crying.

Hmm...maybe a title for the seared tear poem..."Big Boy Not Crying."


  1. Yes it was the music at the end of the Star Trek movie that made me cry.

  2. Oh BB.....that was priceless

    Funny man


  3. Actually, we only cry at gnat bites and pin-pricks. Anything bigger we rage - unless you're Dylan Thomas, of course.

  4. Ah, you do know how to start my day -- all three of you! I like what Dave says about gnat bites and pin-pricks, too! I'm a broad, but those tend to be the only things I cry about anymore. Have a great day and better luck at dodging the can of chili next time!

  5. very well written post!! My father was an ex-Navy man, was good at hiding his emotions especially around other men, but as he got older, he always told us that it takes a real man to be able to shed tears, to show emotion, and not be afraid of it showing on one's face. Ever since I have found it extremely endearing when a man sheds a tear or two!

  6. seems to me that about the time I started to get chin hair I stopped crying. does this mean I am becoming a man? used to cry when angry, or sad both from a good movie or a death of a friend and now don't.... another loss along with the eye sight and the hearing.

  7. HAHAHAHAA - you are totally overthinking it! The reason I laugh is because I was once told that my laugh was obnoxious, when I was about 10 or 12, and from that moment until my 30's, I did not ever have an organic laugh. I over thought it - every time. Is is girlie enough? is it too loud? should I just teehee? And in so doing, lost touch the connection between the emotion and the laughter. It took me YEARS to regain that connection, and not caring what other people thought of my laugh was the starting point. You need to just go with the flow, man! Let the emotion overtake you - listen to Bagman in those circumstances - he's in touch with feelings.
    BTW - I scare the hell out of little kids with my sneezes. AAAAAAAAAAAAchooooooo

  8. Fantabulous post, Sirs... I bless you for your sensitivity and honest knowing...

    And I sneeze like a man, not a delicate woman... But it wins me no friends, I'm afraid - They expect the 'Tst!' sound, not an elephant's nasal trumpeting.. ;) x

  9. Ahhhh.........I knew there was a sweet sensative darling in the midst of the three of you!!
    You're too darling for words Mark...this was a wonderful post :)

    Steady On
    Reggie Girl

  10. Wnderful post: I too was driven to write a post on the fact that I cannot cry. Not the gut-wrenching sobs that make onlookers scared fr my sanity, or even the watery flow that pours unbidden even when there are no facial contortions to accompany the flood. Nor is this dearth caused by my efforts to be brave, stoic or non-feeling. More likely to be caused by having seen it all. [I might squeeze out some tears of rage at man's inhumanity to man]