I used to cry a lot as a kid. In Year 6 at my primary school and I would cry every day at the drop of a hat (it wasn’t always the dropping of a hat but the school yard was a crazy place). This probably explains why I don’t have much to do with many of the ladies and gentlemen who attended the school in question these days, although the concerning obsession with dressing up as a woman among other habits may have led to such a position. I don’t think I had the emotional strength at that stage of my life to manage my insecurities and in turn I was constantly leaking litres of distress into my hands at recess and lunchtime. Times have changed. I no longer cry at being picked second last in a game of schoolyard footy… namely because puberty was particularly kind to a chubby little oddball and I wouldn’t be picked second last anymore… off to the races baby. But it also has a lot to do with my ripening maturity levels that have allowed me to approach tender situations and have the perspective to acknowledge that forgetting to pack a banana for my 15 minute (round up to 2 hour) work break is not going to affect my future returns.
However I still do struggle holding back my emotions when I speak to friends, relatives or complete strangers about the more intimate details of my life. This week a teacher at my high school passed away. He was a good man and as I explained to a work colleague the details of his death I was close to choking up. I literally, and I mean literally; I’m not going all hyperbolic on you in the way that some anti-gay lifestyle activists state that if we condone homosexual behaviour, your kids are going to become homosexuals as well, had to walk away from him just in case I started getting weepy. It’s not that I see public emotion as a sign of weakness, not at all, in fact I cry to music and film all the time, Toy Story 3 made me cry for fuck’s sake.
Sorry, I just went googling and that little gem popped up. Anyway, back to the point, I am not that insecure to suggest that my crying might illuminate my lack of masculinity and soften my ties to the tagline of ‘raw man’, but I don’t want to be the guy that everyone knows will just leak his deepest and darkest secrets at Gerald Jehosaphat’s 25th birthday drinks to an attractive single woman who just wants to hang out. In my state of reasonable affluence, unreasonable if you want to look at the bigger picture of the current human condition but I’m not one to start political conversations when I just want to speak about my own problems, I don’t often worry myself with the worst tragedies of human existence and I think this could be the source of the problem. I am not hardened by living through hardships, my parents are still happily married, we are on the right side of the law and I enjoy my life. I am going to avoid getting up on Mr Ed (high horse) and start chomping away on some peanut butter whilst the producers go on about how live animal trade is an unnecessary cruelty, how food supplies are wasted and why girls don’t automatically want to sleep with me as soon as they meet me but I do think we avoid these topics as they are too complex, too uncomfortable, too goddamn impossible for us to look at without getting ridiculously involved.
I was speaking about the future (that old chestnut) today with a friend today and for some reason I cannot do small talk at all. I can’t just talk about how fun it was getting absolutely pissed and waking up with a massive hanger without addressing a deeper issue. Unfortunately analysis can lead to an uncomfortable conversation, an unpleasant silence and that moon pie you order 45 minutes ago hasn’t arrived so you start sweating which culminates in an empty regret. I particularly don’t enjoy the period after you finally hook up with a sweet girl and want to do all these intimate things and talk about how you want to approach the future together but you don’t want to rush it so you end up just scraping the surface, just trying to avoid offending her with your jokes about Japanese kamikaze pilots or the state of the Dow Jones.
I’m not saying I want to talk about the Apartheid and Cormac McCarthy’s new novel all the time, I just like conversations that evoke and challenge. These things pull a little emotional lever in my guts that stirs something and I love it. It gets the juices going, the more adult friendly juices of course. And if I look like I am welling up while discussing my relationship with my parents or a film I’ve recently seen then either I actually am feeling a special emotion and I want to express it by screaming at the top of my lungs or hugging a random stranger… or I was just choppin’ onions like the motherfucking bloke I am.