Thought of the Week: Can’t a Guy Cry?

Screen Shot 2013-02-25 at 9.58.00 PM“I think I’m an 80s man.”

“How do you figure?”

“Last night I cried in bed. How’s that?”

“Were you with a woman?”

“I was alone – why do you think I cried?”

“Sounds like an 80s man to me.”

Lethal Weapon, 1987

Guys cry, okay? It happens. This comes to mind because I cried last night. Poor me.

Going into this post I started digging into the physiological reasons for crying, and after a brief exploration decided that I’d be crying again if I spent much more time on it. Turns out, there’s no real consensus on why people cry. Or at least, cry emotionally. Crying out of pain is understood well enough, as well as histaminic reactions, but no one’s really sure what the point is of crying when you’re upset. Multiple theories abound, from basic sympathetic pain reflexes to something to do with smoke getting in the eyes of ancient humans when they burned dead bodies. I can’t say I’m entirely convinced by any of them, but the fact remains that guys cry. Apparently German guys cry between 6 to 17 times a year (German ladies cry up to 60 times a year – those bastard German men).

And as Jack Thibeau would have us know, it’s perfectly okay for us guys to cry, especially when we’re lonely. We get to cry when a great tragedy occurs, or if our hamster dies, or if the Mets win the…whatever it is the Mets might win if they won it. Ladies, however, are apparently allowed to cry more often, for longer, and more dramatically! Ladies cry when they feel insecure, or can’t solve some big problem, whereas us dudes cry when our relationships fail. And stuff.

Screen Shot 2013-02-25 at 10.31.28 PMMy, all this research seems to make a lot of sense. By deduction, I’m a big girl. I cry often. I cry for great, long periods of time. I cry dramatically, like Gary Oldman. And it drives my wife absolutely insane. I have complete, utter meltdowns. Hours of inconsolable bawling, incapacitated and catatonic, and try as I might, I can’t stop. It’s not stubbed toe or dead hamster crying – it’s full-on end-of-the-world-and-I-never-got-to-watch-the-last-episode-of-Lost psychotic sobbing.

I’m not always like this. It tends to happen when I’m feeling beaten, like everything’s been going wrong and I’m worthless waste of air, and to top it all off I didn’t rinse the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher and now they’re all covered in food crud. That kind of frame of mind. Am I alone in this, or would you cry at that point as well?

In fact, I suppose what I’m really driving at is that, given a scenario that is very stressful and upsetting, is it okay to cry like a baby for a bit? And is it worse for a guy to do so than a lady? Am I a woman trapped in a man’s body, or just an infantile sack of melodrama that just needs to grow a pair?

When’s the last time you properly sat down and wailed until your head exploded?

The Devil’s Details: Tears in Space

Hello!

Welcome to a new series here on Satis: The Devil’s Details. This may or may not actually survive more than a few posts, but we’ll see where it goes. The idea came to me because I am very observant, but the wrong way.

My wife will know exactly what I mean.

Details catch my attention. It isn’t a conscious thing; it might be a fascinating speck of dust on my desk, or a fellow in the background of a news report wearing an oddly-shaped fedora. In the sense that as long as my eyes are open I’m seeing some thing at any given moment, I’m not particularly looking at things other people aren’t; rather, what tends to happen is that my brain takes some odd part of the scene and runs away with it.

As it happens, this usually leads to me not observing much else. This is the ‘wrong’ of the way: I never really notice the things I’m meant to notice (crumbs on the kitchen counter, wrinkles in the drying clothes, traffic lights that have turned to red), and get carried away by things that, on the grand scheme of things, probably don’t matter all that much.

The thing is, I don’t really mind. Of course, I’d like to be able to notice the important things in life as well, but perhaps the little things are just as significant. Examples: the funny inconsistencies in people’s handwriting because their hand gets tired as they write; imagining a long and detailed life of the groundhog dead by the side of the road; the single off-beat ride cymbal in a song, and wondering if it was meant to be there or not. I watch bugs on walks through the woods, and marvel at the tenuous balance of a fallen twig, caught in the branches of another tree.

These sort of things often keep my mind occupied. Most people call this ‘distracted’; I sometimes wonder if they’re the ones who are distracted, though, at missing these weird and fun little things.

International Space Station crew members Russian cosmonaut Romanenko, U.S. astronaut Marshburn and Canadian astronaut Hadfield joke as they talk with relatives after putting on their space suits at the Baikonur cosmodromeEarlier this week an article from The Atlantic caught my attention. Apparently (and kind of obviously, when you stop to think about it), you can’t really cry in space. Even if your ducts produce excess tears, with no gravity there kind of isn’t anywhere for them to go. So they just sit there. On your eye. And hurt.

What a funny thing to think about. It reminds me of watching movies and realizing no one ever goes to the bathroom. It isn’t the kind of thing that crosses your mind. Now, of course, I know exactly what to include if I ever write a science fiction novel.

In fact, these are the kinds of details I try to include in my own writing if I can; it’s the little touches that make something that little bit more special.

So here’s to weird, odd and special details. I can’t promise that this will be funny, engaging, or even mildly interesting. Kind of like the details themselves.