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In the 1972 classic, Godfather, there’s an early scene where Don Corleone berates his godson, Johnny Fontaine, for crying because he didn’t get a part in a movie. ‘Godfather, I don’t know what to do’, a sobbing Fontaine mutters. Cue a slap in the face and a violent retort, ‘You can act like a man’, followed by a gentle mocking of his behaviour from the Don.
That scene is set in the late 1940s, a quite different world from that which we inhabit today, to state the obvious. These days, it’s all about being in touch with one’s emotions. It’s OK to cry, whether you’re a man, woman, child or however else you define yourself. Don’t suppress your feelings, let it all out.
I don’t completely disagree with that approach. For one, for the most part, it’s good to be honest about how you feel — at least if you’re asked that is.
What I don’t like, what irritates me, is when the waterworks start, especially — although not exclusively — when it’s men who are shedding the tears. This is where I side with Don Corleone.
It’s not that it makes me uncomfortable, it’s more a case that I find it hard to take seriously men who cry with regularity. As for women, whether the tears are genuine or not, they often, um, precipitate a granting, justified or not, of whatever they may be looking for.
I generally make an exception for death, but even in that there seem to be people who let flow more than really appears “necessary”. (Perhaps we could introduce a tear scale. ‘Careful now, you’re close to your limit.’) Bidding adieu to loved ones for an indefinite period of time is another “acceptable” tear-jerker. Alcohol-induced crying is also excepted, meaningless as it often is.
‘When the tears in others come they invoke a negative, cold reaction in me. Rather than wanting to help, I have a desire to walk away.’
This aversion towards, bordering on utter contempt for crying has something to do with, it’s safe to assume, my childhood. I was, after all, a serial crier into my mid-teens.
Then, from about 15 onwards, I started to develop a strong dislike when seeing others well up for reasons that I would have considered rather inconsequential.
During that time, no doubt having to deal with me, her last born, I recall my mother crying for what seemed like the merest of reasons. It used to get my blood up.
Even if I’d been told it was all largely down to the menopause, it’s unlikely I would have been sympathetic to her plight. Selfish teens, eh.
Dry your eyes, mate
This clearly left its mark. For in my current abode, the landlady, a nice woman I hasten to add, cries on an almost-daily basis. It’s not only, as has happened a fair few times, a headache when she does it speaking directly to me about some grievance or another (these grievances have nothing to do with me, by the way!). It also irks me simply when I can just hear her sobbing away in her room.
I know I should probably be a little more empathetic considering she suffers from depression, it’s just when the tears in others come they invoke a negative, somewhat cold reaction in me. Rather than wanting to help I have a desire to walk away.
It’s not that I lack understanding. In fact, I’d wager I take the time to listen to and empathise with other people’s gripes as much if not more so than the next person. I just wish they’d leave the crying out of it.
The British-Irish band The Pogues sang in Streams of Whiskey, ‘there’s nothing ever gained by a wet thing called a tear’. That’s not fully true, but I wish it was.
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