Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The Crying Game

Ask anyone who knows me personally and they'll tell you...I'm an emotional void. I do have my moments of exuberance and I like to laugh a lot, but generally I'm pretty even-tempered. I don't often go to emotional extremes. Most people have told me that when I get angry it just comes off as really funny, which makes me even angrier, which in turn makes me even more humorous, I guess. Whatever. The point is that my demeanor doesn't fluctuate wildly, so sometimes people assume that I have no feelings. This is especially true when it comes to sadness. I am not a cryer. That doesn't mean I have never cried, it just means I don't like to cry and it usually takes a lot to make me do so. Situations that would make 90% of the female population start weeping just don't have much effect on me. However, I believe that my lack of lachrymal fluid production in my normal every day life has created an imbalance in my brain that causes me to sob uncontrollably when confronted with "sad" movies, songs or things I see on TV. Seems that I can only cry over things which don't directly affect my life.

In honor of the things that make me go boo-hoo, I would like to present some awards for Outstanding Achievement in Humanizing Me to the following:

1. The Shawshank Redemption - I cried more during this two hours than I probably did in the entire 20 years prior to my first viewing of it. Now that it's on TNT and/or TBS every other day, I kind of have my feelings under control, but the first several times I saw this movie I completely broke down. (If you decide to read on and have somehow managed to live this long never having seen this movie, go back to the cave because there are spoilers ahead.) I actually read the Stephen King novella that this movie was very faithfully based on. I liked it, but remember thinking how slow-paced it was, apparently to get across that feeling of being in prison. I didn't think it would translate well to the big screen. Boy, was I wrong! It is my 2nd favorite film of all time and is just an absolute masterpiece. At any rate, there was a fairly long period between the time I read the story and when I finally saw the movie. Silly me, I had forgotten all about Brooks Hatlen. Now, I love James Whitmore, who played Brooks in the film. I have a real love of cute old men, probably because I never knew either of my grandfathers, so I'm always on the lookout for a surrogate. Burgess Meredith was always my first pick, but James would be a close second. He was so adorable as Brooks. As I was watching it, it came to the scene where he is released from prison and is narrating a letter he wrote for his inmate buddies. As that sequence started to unfold, I suddenly remembered what became of Brooks in the book, and knew instantly that this was not going to be pretty. Right around the time Brooks was sitting in the park feeding the birds, bemoaning the fact that his old bird Jake never came around, I went from slightly welled up to full-out, gut-wrenching, body-wracking sobs. I must have cried through the rest of the movie and probably for about an hour afterward. No movie or single performance has ever affected me that profoundly, before or since. I actually had to watch it again, because so much of the dialogue was muffled by my blubbering. Sometimes when I watch it now, I actually have to skip that part of the movie, if I'm not up to the emotional roller coaster. Hats off to James Whitmore, my adoptive grandpa. He shook out feelings in me I didn't even know I had.

2. Les Miserables - Although this is one of my favorite books, it's actually the musical play that drives me to tears. It's a sad story to begin with. But acted out and enhanced with romantic and mournful songs performed by some of the most staggeringly beautiful voices one could ever hope to lay ears on, it's positively heartbreaking. I'm not alone in sympathizing most with Eponine, whose character is much more developed in the play. She's the perfect tragic heroine - the ragged girl who ultimately gives her life for the rich boy whom she loves. And she gets two of the best songs, "On My Own" and "A Little Fall of Rain". If neither of those gets you at least misty-eyed, you are one heartless freak. (And don't even get me started on Jean Valjean's "Bring Him Home".)

3. Hallmark Commercial: Old Lady at Mailbox - Those bastards at Hallmark. They really know how to manipulate people, don't they? I start to get choked up just thinking about this commercial, but I shall try to press on and describe it for you all. Basically, there is an old lady who lives across the street from a younger woman and her son. The woman sees the lady out at her mailbox and as the mailman comes by with the younger woman's mail, he tells her that the old lady checks her mail every day, but never gets anything. Ok, sad enough already, right? No, those evil greeting card geniuses aren't done with us yet. Young woman goes and buys a nice little "hello" card and puts it in the lady's mailbox, then watches with delight as the little old lady comes out to find a letter waiting for her! The next day, the woman's son brings over something (I believe it was a jar of jam or preserves) and tells his mom it's from the lady next door and that, "I think she was crying". Then the clincher - we see the two women walking over to each other and they meet and embrace. You can't see it, and you may not believe it, but I really am tearing up over this! God, that commercial gets me every time. Thank goodness it's never on any more. I'd love to meet the ad genius who came up with that one. I'd give him or her a big hug and then kick him/her in the shins for toying with my emotions.

4. Extreme Home Makeover - No brainer here, right? I started watching this show in the hopes of seeing Ty Pennington hammering shirtless, and I wasn't disappointed. However, I had no idea what a poignant program this was. The families always have such a terrible story and everyone cries for the entire hour. Last week they re-ran one of the most incredible episodes (a 10 on the Sniffle Scale) revolving around a family with two deaf parents, an autistic/blind son and another son who took care of everyone with no complaints. Occasionally this show can get melodramatic, but this particular family was really very special and inspiring.

5. Last Game of the Season (A Blind Man in the Bleachers) - As Billy Ocean once said, "there'll be sad songs to make you cry". There have been a few songs that have put me in quite a melancholy state, but I don't think I ever had a full-fledged crying session over one. This song is probably the closest I ever came. I had never heard of this song before, and my introduction to it was at my old roommate's house for a New Year's Eve party. I believe this was around 1997 or '98. This girl was a big fan of disco, so she had that whole "Have a Nice Day" CD collection. She was playing them all and eventually this song came on. I was sitting there at her kitchen table listening to it and all of a sudden I felt my cheeks getting wet. Total buzz kill. I was sitting there, literally crying in my beer and I finally yelled, "What the hell is this?? It's New Year's Eve, we're supposed to be having fun!! I thought we were listening to disco? Disco music is supposed to be FUN!!" For those of you unfamiliar with this song, and I'm going to guess that that's most of you because no one I've ever asked about it seems to recall it, here are the lyrics. A bit maudlin perhaps, but they get the job done:

He's just the blind man in the bleachers
To the local home town fans
And he sits beneath the speakers
Way back in the stands
And he listens to the play by play
He's just waiting for one name
He wants to hear his son get in the game

But the boy's not just a hero
He's strictly second team
Tho he runs each night for touchdowns
In his father's sweetest dreams
He's gonna be a star some day
Tho you might never tell
But the blind man in the bleachers knows he will

And the last game of the season is a Friday night at home
And no one knows the reason but the blind man didn't come
And his boy looks kinda nervous
Sometimes turns around and stares
Just as tho' he sees the old man sittin' there

The local boys are tryin' but they slowly lose their will
Another player's down and now
He's carried from the field
At halftime in the locker room
The kid goes off alone
And no one sees him talkin' on the phone

The game's already started
When he gets back to the team
And half the crowd can hear his coach yell
"Where the hell you been?"
"Just gettin' ready for the second half,"
Is all he'll say
"Cause now you're gonna let me in to play."

Without another word, he turns and runs into the game
And through the silence on the field
Loudspeakers call his name
It'll make the local papers
How the team came from behind
When they saw him playin' his heart to win

And when the game was over
The coach asked him to tell
What was it he was thinkin' of
That made him play so well
"You knew my dad was blind," he said
"Tonight he passed away"
"It's the first time that my father's seen me play


Okay, that's it for me. Let's talk about yourfeelings. I'll be in the kitchen, cutting onions.

10 comments:

Doggie Extraordinaire's Mom said...

I had to stop watching Extreme Home Makeover because I'd cry so hard that the tears and snot would run down my face and stain my shirt. God forbid if I was wearing a little makeup too. What a mess!

For the short tear-jerkers like Hallmark commercials, I tell myself that the little old lady had no mail because she was really a former Nazi in hiding, desperate for some literature about the neo-Nazi regime and their terrorist plots. Or perhaps she is a recovering cannibal and has eaten all her loved ones. Or maybe the mailman is the grownup child she molested, and has devoted his life to intercepting her mail and making her believe no one could ever care about her for all her evil sins. I delight in imagining why someone doesn't deserve my tears.

But those damn families on Extreme Home Makeover, who are too sad to be true, get me every time! The last one I watched was with the family who asked for the home makeover for the woman they never met, who donated an organ (or marrow or something) to their daughter, and in the end the two families met for the first time. How do you thank someone for saving your baby and giving her an organ?! A complete stranger! Ohhh, I need a tissue!

:'(

Leviathan said...

Aloha! Salutations...
Thankyou for leaving me such a Luscious (note the L)!

Homer Jay said...

I too have given up EHMO. I distinctly remember the hallmark commercial. I have the Le Mis soundtrack. Shawshank is an unbelievably great movie and I don't care who knows that it makes me cry.
As for "Last Game of the Season" I'll be heading over to Morpheus to look that one up. I'm a sucker for songs that play with my emotions.

Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm said...

The Shawshank Redemption gets me welling a bit, but no actual tears or sobs. Same goes for The Rookie, a Disney baseball movie from a few years ago. Hmm. And Hardball, a movie about Keanu Reeves as a gambling junkie who takes on a ghetto little league team for spare cash. His funeral speech gets me every time.

Lee Ann said...

You are right about Extreme Home Makeover, that show can get almost anyone in tears! There have even been a few good commercials that have set me off a time or two.

Cristie said...

Extreme Homemaker over does it for me, I too love see Ty, shirtless or not, But I end up blubbering so much, my husband makes me turn the show!!! (I secretly think that he is jealous of Ty!!) As for the song, I have never heard it, but Im going to try and find it now, so I can hear it! Thanks.
Found you on BlogExplosion btw

Sangroncito said...

I'll have to check out your recommendations because I'm overdue to for a good cry.

Lulu said...

On the Les Mis thing- I never really understood Bring Him Home until I saw it recently. People were always going crazy over that song and I was kind of ambivalent. But OH MY GOSH, I heard it and I was totally crying.

But don't tell anyone cause that's kind of embarrassing. ;)

teletart said...

Snap! on the old lady Hallmark ad. EHM definitely does it for me, though I mute Ty and his loudhailer. Muting him in general would be a public service. I actually have the "Watts" episode of EHM on tape - anyone? anyone? - and can just use the thought of it to make me weep. Sweet Alice!

Another sob fiesta for me - years ago now - was "Shadowlands". Oh, and "Whale Rider".

Melanie said...

Ditto "Bring Him Home". I have a recording of Colm Wilkinson singing it and I love his voice to begin with, so it's really Niagara Falls when I listen to that song.

The part in the book that makes me cry the most is when Fantine sells her teeth--I just cannot fathom going that far for the well-being of someone else! I guess I will feel differently if I ever become a mother myself.

Guaranteed tearjerkers for me include Terms of Endearment and, while I was in France and away from my fiance, Big Fish. I bawled and bawled every time Edward came "back from the dead". I also remember crying copiously while reading the end of Where the Red Fern Grows.

I also seem to cry at every wedding scene or birth scene in any TV show, movie or commercial. What can I say? I'm a basket case!

 

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