Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Boys do cry

Leif Ericson told me a story last night. It was about a conversation he overheard on the subway between a teenage father on drugs and a woman giving the father advice. The story ended with Leif donning his aviator sunglasses to hide the fact that his eyes were filling with tears.

My first thought was, that's nice that Leif wanted to share this anecdote with me that he found touching. My second, more cynical thought was, he wants me to know that he's the kind of guy who cries.

Probably there is some truth to both thoughts. I certainly pick and choose which moments of my life I talk to him about; I want to share moments that reflect well on me, not so much stories that highlight my weaknesses. I do want him to know about my recent hike in the White Mountains, but not about the day when I woke up sick from drinking 2 1/2 beers and couldn't do anything but sit on my couch all day.

These days, it seems to be a trend that men are not only crying more, but they are talking about it more. Leif may have used his aviators to cover his tears in public, but was eager to tell me about them as soon as he got home. Dreamy admitted on his OkCupid profile that Ira Glass makes him cry on a regular basis. He once told me that as a kid, he used to pretend to have allergies to hide the fact that he cried constantly in music lessons because he thought the music was so beautiful. Monkeyboy told me that he once burst into tears while driving when a song came on the radio that reminded him of his childhood.

We've come a long way from the days when Ed Muskie's political career ended because of public tears. These days, Terry Gross reduces male interviewees to tears on a weekly basis. (The most recent example I heard was Louis CK.)

I think we still have a ways to go in terms of helping boys grow up into men who are in touch with their feelings. First and foremost, the admonishment "Be a big boy!" needs to be abolished forever. The shirt I saw recently that proclaims "Tough like Daddy" should be adjusted to "Tough like Mommy" or maybe "Sensitive like Daddy." Still, I suppose it can only be a positive thing that modern men are comfortable with their tears. Keep the waterworks flowing, boys!

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