07 October, 2006

Welling up

I was surprised, off the back of some idle office gossip the other day, to hear so many men readily testify to having cried while watching a film. This flew in the face of the common stereotype which dictates that males are only permitted to weep, or confess to weeping, at football matches (the same place, of course, where men are also allowed to openly embrace each other).

When it comes to films, or music and TV for that matter, it doesn't take much to make me start welling up, and it never has done. I can't cry in public, though, partly because I know how unflattering and ugly it makes me look, but also because it has always felt an avowedly private emotion and one that is open to such a degree of third party misintepretation.

I remember crying once at school, when I failed my driving test for the third term running. I remember crying twice in front of my parents, once three years ago down the phone when I really felt my life had reached the last remaining atom on the bottom of the barrel, once when I was 16 and right in front of them after I'd been verbally abused by the dad of a sometime friend.

In each case the circumstances were somewhat extraordinary. In private, though, it is the most mundane and everyday of occurances which can and will set me off. Aspects of my appearance, forbearing and prospects can hit me hard when I'm low, but more often it will be some moment, some gesture, some transient mood and feeling evoked by something I have seen or heard that does the trick.

But contrary to received wisdom, I don't always "feel better" for having cried and "let it all come out". Usually I feel worse, somewhat dishevelled and shabby and at an extremely low ebb. And here's the crux of it, because if someone was around to see me weep and blub all over the place, maybe that expulsion of emotion would translate into some kind of positive epiphany. But of course there can't be anyone around, because I'm too ashamed.

It's enough to make you weep.


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