Sunday, May 4, 2008

Crying? Me?

Published May 4, 2008
St. George Spectrum & Daily News

My semester at college ended this past Wednesday, when I turned in my Psychology final exam and stepped out into the waning sunlight looking forward to an entire summer away from school. I managed not to cry until my third step away from the door. I managed to avoid outright sobbing until I made it to my car.

For those of you (probably of the male variety) wondering why in the world I would choose that moment to release a torrent of tears, I can only say I’m right there with you. I dreamed of that moment through every tedious hour of finals week. I saw myself breathing deep and greeting the world with a satisfied smile, perhaps even laughing aloud. Instead, I found myself hurrying to my car, racing the emotion at a breakneck pace and wondering what the heck was going on.

This kind of thing isn’t new for me. I am a bawl baby. I’ve known it since I got the title in the 4th grade. I am one of those lucky women who cries almost any time I experience intense emotion. It’s not an easy life, people. I cry when I’m sad, happy, angry, confused, relieved, and elated. It’s like some part of my brain has a short circuit that kicks my tear ducts into overdrive. All the while, I’m desperately trying to slam on the brakes.

Over the years, I’ve observed a number of tear reducing tactics among my high-strung female friends:

The Crane. In this anti-crying effort, a woman tips her head back and looks to the sky, willing her tears to team up with the force of gravity (and suction, apparently) and find their way back into the space behind her eyeballs. All that really happens is that the tears become evenly distributed over the surface of her eyes for a few seconds and then find their way out and down the sides of her face. However, onlookers may be fooled into thinking something is going on overhead, giving the teary-eyed woman a chance to surreptitiously swipe the tears away. Golden opportunity, my friends.

The Fan: You’ve all seen it, from beauty pageant winners to moms at church. A woman feels the tears coming and begins waving her hands in front of her face in some desperate attempt to dry her tears before they make contact with her skin. At least I think that’s what she’s doing. It draws much more attention to her emotional state, which kind of defeats the purpose. Of course, it may be a "Come here and support me, girls!" gesture, in which case, I guess I understand.

The Lie. With this one, you have to answer one question. Does crying in public bother you enough that you’re willing to sacrifice your integrity to keep your secret. My answer? Yeah ...sometimes. I’ve got a few tried and true standbys, and they work well for me. "Crying? Oh, no. It’s allergies." "These darned contacts. I guess it’s time for a new pair." "What? No, I was yawning...YAWNING! Aaaaauuuuoooooooowwwwwwwaaaaahhhhh. See? I’m totally yawning here."

The Surrender. Sometimes, the only way out is through. Sometimes, you just have to dig in and let it all out. I write this as if surrender is a choice. The truth is that no matter how much you try to hide what’s plainly written on your face, there will never, ever be a successful defense to a well timed, "Hey, are you okay?" Those are the magic words, folks. Say that to a woman on the verge and the waterworks will begin forthwith.

Someday, I might embrace my weepy nature and see it as a good thing. Maybe. I did once have a close friend tell me he’s always admired the way I can cry when I need to. I just want to get to the point where people are admiring how well I can STOP crying when I don’t want to. It’s a process, I guess...a salty, wet, embarrassing process that never ends!

No, really. I’m just yawning...