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Crying Shame; The Lack Of

Statue of Our Lady of La Salette, sitting cryi...

"No, I'm fine really, it was just a paper cut after all"

I recently saw a girl reading a book on a busy commuter train and it made her cry. Her book actually reduced her to tears. Well, I thought, that’s one hell of a paper cut, she should probably invest in a Kindle if pages cause her that much trouble. The guy next to her was looking distinctly worried as his lapel seemed like it was in danger of being used to wipe her nose.

Well, on sharing this tale of cut fingers and public tears with some friends, it appears that what had in fact occurred on this very public mode of transport was that the girl was just one of many people who like to blub at a good book and think nothing of letting the tears roll in front of slightly uncomfortable strangers.

Now, it’s a myth that I had my tear ducts removed at the same time as my heart and soul. I actually couldn’t afford the surgery for all three so I opted for the latter two and decided to take my chances against films like Million Dollar Baby and books like, well, to be honest I haven’t cried so much as when I read Jennie by Paul Gallico and have still never forgiven my mother for inflicting it upon my childhood, but this film/book induced welling up occurs under the same circumstances as my bathing; at home and very much alone.

I fully appreciate that some books are very hard to put down as there’s something so delicious about allowing yourself to become wholly enveloped in the “other” world of a good page-turner, especially when its got you firmly by the heart strings. Similarly, I have actually been known to select a film specifically because of its tortuous “screw you” ending, where the guy doesn’t get the girl and the girl wants to hang herself using her cat. It’s a perverse joy of mine to unleash a cacophony of wailing at no expense of my own and come out of it feeling cathartically cleansed and drained of all woe. It’s an odd hobby, I’ll grant you that, but it’s less bizarre than morris dancing and that’s perfectly acceptable in small villages all across the country, but I digress. I don’t understand how it has become appropriate to flaunt this emotional out-pouring of fiction-fuelled misery in public. How bizarre, how anti-social, how terribly un-British!

There is nothing wrong with sharing your emotions with your nearest and dearest or your highly paid therapist but really? On a packed commuter train? I’ve also heard tell of one solo female traveller unleashing her eye leakage in a restaurant. A restaurant!!! I’m not even going to begin tackling the obvious psychological implications of some underlying attention seeking syndrome, that would take me years to write and I don’t think I want my Nobel Prize to be based on the caterwauling of some tart on the tube. What I’m more concerned about is how this affects me and those around the overly sensitive emotional exhibitionist emotionally delicate reader.

I may not be the most sympathetic being out there (“hatchet faced harpy” and “person you’d most want on your gang in a prison fight” are probably more commonly used) but even I feel a sudden overwhelming urge to assist when I see a fellow humanoid leaking brine from the eye-holes. This is where it becomes highly disturbing for the innocent bystander (which would be me in this case, having narrowly avoided the prison fight) as we follow the basic human instinct when faced with a person of a distressed persuasion, which is to run the fundamental assessment: Can I eat it or f… oh, bit too basic, hang on, let me dial it up a notch *ahem*: Is the person in immediate danger and will assisting them put me in immediate danger?

If the damsel was being verbally assaulted by an irate ticket inspector/waiter or had spilled hot coffee all down her chesticles, we would then be able to formulate a clear plan of action. In the case of the evil ticket puncher/maitre d’, most would step in and politely ask that they desist from acting like a complete arse, I of course, with my prison issue rusty potato peeler-knife and bad-ass attitude would flick a well arched eyebrow in the meanie’s direction and send them scurrying for their mummy. On the other hand, if the malady that had caused the tears was a slopped skinny decaf cappafrappamochacino, well I’d tell her to drink a proper coffee for starters and then assist by proffering a tissue and some soothing words of comfort. However, when we can’t see any tangible reason for the train or restaurant to be in danger of flooding, Alice In Wonderland style, what are we to do? It’s confusing and it’s most, most disconcerting.

For those who aren’t confused and alarmed at this unexplained outburst from a nurturing point of view are, perhaps, like the chap with the absorbent looking lapel, more worried that the person blubbing for no apparent reason is clearly mentally unstable and therefore highly likely to wipe snot or any other bodily effluence all over those within arms reach. Trust me, I’ve lived in a town with a disproportionately high level of free-range fruit loops and they love nothing more than to share their vile little excretions, whether you appreciate the generosity or not. Alternatively, the crying could be a sign that the sniveller is about to try to engage the innocent bystander in one almighty pig’s ear of a predicament, containing too much personal information and little room for escape. Quite simply put, if you’re acting odd, you’re a threat. Crying in public is odd and you are therefore a danger to couture and human decency.

I’m holding firm on this point. I know I usually leave a diplomatic allowance for human peculiarities so as not to alienate the audience, but not this time people! For it is those who weep and wail in public with no apparent reason other than the fictional fantasy land in their heads who are the ones doing the alienating and forcing those around to face non-existent dilemmas regarding distressed damsels. So I say keep your tears to yourselves, keep your upper lip stiff and thoroughly British and if you can’t manage that while in public, stick to reading novels by Katie Price.

About prettyfeetpoptoe

I live in London and have both my own legs so I am fortunate enough to get out and about on occasion. I form many views on the things that I see and do and love nothing better than a session of linguistic gymnastics in order to share these views.

36 responses »

  1. Katie Price makes me cry.

  2. Chesticles? I swear, someday, after reading your posts for a couple of years, I will be able to claim bilingualism.

  3. missy amber

    Aaaah, Jennie. I still have a copy on my bookcase on the off chance I want to wallow in maudlin whimsy.
    But for a real snot fest, do ferret out a copy of “Six Weeks” starring Dudley Moore (1982). Perhaps the fashion alone might now make you week, but a plot that involves a 12 year old ballet dancing leukemia sufferer is a sure fire blub inducer. I stumbled upon it unsuspectingly, and had to absent myself from my family for over an hour before I could stop wailing. No exaggeration. None. at. all. But do note the “absent” bit. British to the core, me.

    • I’m thoroughly proud of your attempts to conceal your weeping and wailing. Proud in a very reserved, British way of course.

      Not sure dancing brats will do it for me, I prefer deathy doomed lovers or wrong-done heros. English Patient and The Green Mile, every time.

  4. I’d definately want to be on team pop toe in a cell block h gang fight! I’ve seen your 5″ heeled platforms, if you can walk in those you can damn sure make a shank out of a sharpened toothbrush handle. Not that I’ve given much thought to prison gang fights or anything.. just saying!

    • You and my good self in a prison fight? C wing would be toast! I’m not sure I’d be able to work the prison uniforms though, that might need some negotiation.

  5. As one of the free-range fruit loops, I delight in the mundane public’s look-anywhere-else discomfortude over my various leakages—especially Brits. You guys are *so* easy.

  6. Rich Crete

    These needy saps might be choosing to emote publicly because when they went all emo on their facebook page they were ignored by all their “friends”.

  7. Weeping in public gained traction after the National Blub following the death of the late Diana ‘Queen of Hearts’ in 1997. Since then we’ve had Halle Berry welling up at the Oscars, and even Russia’s ‘strongman’ Putin had a tearful moment after ‘winning’ his presidential election. However, my favourite public weepie has to be the North Korean people after the death of Kim Jong-Il last December, where the lack of eye brine was tantamount to treason. Now they gave a new meaning to ‘outpouring’ of grief!

    • None of these are book related. Not that I’m about to start a book burning movement but women with sad books in public are a liability and I’ll take a maudlin Korean any day.

  8. There’s a time and place for bawling. Tears of happiness are acceptable in my opinion though. Except the awards show. I loathe them. Actors giving eachother awards. What pompous asses! Or if you just got into a major car accident and your favorite convertible just got totalled. Then I say CRY AWAY BABY!

  9. Too much drama – everywhere. Can we blame Snooki, and reality shows for making “all the world a stage”? – it’s NOT….That was just a saying – a comparison. Not directions for life!

    • If you’re going to blame anyone for “all the world’s a stage” then please cite Shakespeare and not that awful cretin-breeder, Snooki. Mind you, I’m sure Shakespeare would be doing the spin cylce in his grave if he thought those innocent words woule be responsible for people crying at books on buses or appearing on Jersey Whores, er, I mean Shore.

  10. Diego Serrano

    I went to see Hunger Games last week. Everyone around me was sobbing.
    I felt nothing.
    Nothing except for questioning myself as to why I wasn’t crying.
    But I already know the answer.

    It’s not that I don’t feel anything…it’s just that I’m not a happy person at this juncture in my life, having eaten a lot of life’s shit.
    The movie isn’t real.
    Neither is the book.
    What’s real is the sadness a person holds inside them, making things like books, or movies inconsequential….paling by comparison to a person’s life circumstances.
    This, from experience.

    Nice post M.
    Thought provoking as usual.

    • I find it hard to cry in cinemas when there’s some prat noisily shoveling popcorn into his chops next to me and seriously, how can you feel moved to tears when some tit’s mobile phone goes off, reminding you firmly that you are in fact sat in a room full of mouth breathers?

      Of course, why would I expect anything other than a firm grasp on the mucky reality stick from you? 🙂

      • Diego Serrano

        I’ve got to stop drinking scotch whiskey, getting all introspective, and actually believing its a good thing to comment on someone’s (you) blog when in that condition.
        It always seems so fucking brilliant at the time…til the next morning when I read it and go…oh fuck, what have i done now.

      • Diego Serrano

        btw…love the tweets #notdrunkthistime

        • Don’t tell me you’ve started following me? Are you the divorce tips company or the rehab for men with drink/drugs problems that recently latched on?

          (I thought there might have been a drop of sauce involved. I’m not judging, that’s what powers most of my Twitter output!)

  11. I understand your point when it comes to your kind, but is it okay if we cry over here…across the pond? I weep every time I pick up a book…because I never learned to read…

  12. Hahahaha. Hasn’t everyone been in that dilemma though? I remember being 11 and reading Order of Phoenix on a school trip and reading the bit where Sirius dies on the bus…let’s just say, it took more mental resolve to not start bawling hysterically than probably anything else I’ve achieved in life. Success!

    Haha, and I agree-every now and then it’s important to watch a sad film to cry your little heart out, without actually feeling sad about something real. Cruel Intentions is a personal favourite for this little hobby.

    • I’ve cried terribly at books but never on a bus. As soon as I can feel that someone’s about to do something nasty over the page, BOOM, book down and iPhone out for a sobering game of solitaire. It’s only fair the passenger next to me with the absorbant looking lapel. 😉

      Hadn’t cried for ages, decided to have a go at watching Schindler’s List for some tension release. Flatmate came in to find me wailing “THE JEWS, THE JEWS!!!”. Guaranteed results, every time.


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