I’m a sensitive person. That’s kind of like saying, The Pope won’t be doling out birth control and Hitler had a mean streak. Understatements all.
I have an emotional hot-button that is triggered on a dime, which is to say very, very easily.
You say you cry at weddings, funerals, and the births of your children?
Forget Terms of Endearment, Steel Magnolias, or any other sappy chick flick custom-made for drawing tears from even the most cold-hearted. I choked up at the end of The Waterboy. Racing Stripes. When Herbie won the race during Herbie: Fully Loaded, a hankie would not have gone unused. (Oops--I hope I haven't ruined it for any of you.)
It’s gotten to the point where John will instinctively look over at me during the sappy parts of movies, to see if I’ve choked up yet. I don’t even care anymore; hey, if you can’t withstand that in a marriage, you’re doomed.
Here’s a sampling of things that have gotten me choked up:
- That Kodak commercial where the little boy brings the photo of his grandmother playing in the All-American Girls’ League in the 40’s to the kiosk to have it blown up, and then she plays catch with him in the backyard
- Obituaries of people I have never met
- Almost any time I hear the Star-Spangled Banner sung, unless it's someone unspeakably awful
- Watching the birth movie in our birthing class – everyone else is totally freaked out; I’m choking back these body-wracking sobs
- Reading the book, Love You Forever to my son, and while we’re on the topic of books, in Oh, the Places You’ll Go? When he writes, KID, YOU'LL MOVE MOUNTAINS! I have to pause to collect myself.
- If I see a commercial that involves any military (even a recruiting commercial) I get choked up because I think of their families back home missing them (despite the fact that these people are actors)
- Coffee commercials where the kid comes home from the military and surprises his family
- When the Sox won the World Series (okay, that's a given--what Sox fan didn't?)
- The classic commercial where the mother and father are empty-nesters and the woman sits at the table crying into her Pepsi after her youngest has left home, yeah, I need a tissue.
- The song Tears from Heaven, every single time I hear it, to this day.
- Also the song Leader of the Band, by Dan Fogelberg.
The worst though, is when I can just make myself cry thinking about things that might, someday in the future, have the potential to make me cry. I remember once walking down the street in Boston on my lunch-hour, and I started thinking about my upcoming wedding. Walking down the aisle, that point when my husband sees me in my dress for the first time, when my voice breaks during our vows (which it did) us walking back up the aisle, holding hands, I felt a familiar tightness in my throat, and I started welling up. Then, as if that wasn’t bad enough, I started thinking about the birth of our yet-to-be-conceived children, how John would hold my hand, saying, “You can DO it!! You can DO IT!!” (not unlike Rob Schneider’s character in The afore-mentioned Waterboy) and I got even further choked up. Then, to top it all off, I pictured John dancing with our daughter at her wedding, some twenty-five years plus down the road, and over the course of one block I had gone from walking happily in the noontime sunshine to being a bleary-eyed mess looking like she’d just been dumped, publicly, during a drunken fight. It was like I had my own little sappy Kodak commercial playing in my mind.
There are some instances which justifiably make me emotional. It goes without saying that I cried during my own wedding, the birth of both of my children (especially the one I had no pain meds for---OWIE! talk about tears) and my father’s funeral. I have gone a bit further though, during certain events. My son’s pre-school program on the last day of school, for instance. The child stood there, by himself, and sang a song about carrots growing from carrot seeds. I was standing, applauding, with tears running down my cheeks like he had just stood up and given the valedictorian’s speech during his high school graduation (which, by the way, I have visualized, like Steve Martin in Parenthood, and, surprise! got choked up.) At our church a couple of months ago, they had a guest singer, this 18-year-old guy from the local fabulous music school, and this dreadlocked dude looked like he should’ve been scoring some goal during overtime or partying with his friends. He opened his mouth, and I swear the voice of an angel came out. He sang this Italian aria so sweetly and beautifully, the entire congregation sat, slack-jawed, listening to this unbelievably pure sound come out of this kid’s mouth. When he was finished, three-hundred people stood and clapped for him for about 2 minutes. Me? I was like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman at the end of the opera. Standing up, clapping wildly, tears in her eyes, she said, “I liked it so much I almost peed my pants.” What did she say? “She said she liked it even more than Pirates of Penzance.”
(And by the way, just remembering everyone clapping for this beautiful singer just now? I got choked up.)
Sometimes I’d like to find some modern miracle that could cure me of this ailment, although it goes without saying there are far worse maladies than mine. The worst side-effect is occasional embarrassment. But what if it cured me to the point where I didn’t get choked up at my child’s graduation, or my daughter’s wedding? People would congratulate me, telling me how beautiful she looks, and I’ll be like, “Yeah, she's great. Are you going to the bar? I could really use another gin and tonic.”
So I guess I’ll just have to continue to be ridiculed by my husband, and eventually, I’m sure, my children. I can take it. It’s not like they can make me cry or anything.
Unless, of course, one of them should get engaged, then I’m at her wedding and she dedicates a song to her parents, from whom she learned everything about love…
But I digress.
(Does anyone have a Kleenex?)