Men don’t cry. We squint. Boys might be made out of snips and snails and puppy dog tails, but men are made out of leather and steel and “Hungry Man” meals. Kick us in the baby wallet and we might keel over. Let forth a grizzly’s roar. But cry? Men have three basic emotions: The Wave, Hulk, and whiskey. Our hearts are fist-sized beer kegs. Tears are just cowardly beads of sweat too scared to jump off our brow when sawing wood.
When a woman does us wrong, do we weep? Ha! We turn up AC/DC. Pull the curtains. Turn off the lights. Stand in the shower with our clothes on. Oh, did you think we got misty when you laid us off from the love factory? Well, you were completely right. Women have two tear glands: one to keep their peepers moist, the other to flood whenever Nicholas Sparks gives someone cancer. Our eyes were misting because that’s how they work, like automatic sprinklers on a golf course. That’s how we keep the ol’ skull cams lubricated in their sockets. When I buried my first dog, I bravely bid little Falkor good journey to Valhalla, the Viking afterlife. The last time I went to the optometrist, I sucked the medicinal eye droplets that were rolling down my cheeks back up into my face. I am that disciplined.
But as always, when it comes to platitudinous declarations, there are exceptions.
I suppose some cry at movies like “Rudy,” or “Braveheart,” or any of the “Friday the 13th” movies. Those dope-smoking camp sluts killed Jason’s mommy! I remember watching that scene in “The Empire Strikes Back” when Han Solo bravely prepares himself to be carbon frozen. My right eye twitched. It’s theoretically possible that men cry listening to country music, but dive bars are dark for a reason and no one can see you in your pick-up truck, the window rolled down and the night air whipping past your face. There are dogs worth crying over, I suppose. Living proof that licks are the real language of love.
Did I mention there are aberrations to my theory? At least personally? I didn’t? Maybe I’ve cried. I can’t remember if I’ve written about instances where such an improbable, but not impossible, event occurred. I don’t actually know how to read, so I can’t really tell you. Okay. So. Here it goes. I didn’t exactly cry when my father died. I snuck into the ICU and touched his cold foot and then I politely removed my skin and wrung it dry. And I’ve wept for a very simple reason. Because I wasn’t the man I wanted to be. A good man. An honest man. A man who didn’t keep his promises. Only the future cares about apologies.
A man who failed to cradle a loved one’s heart as if it were a football made of glass. Who is forced to keep the company of wreckage. Whose regret turns his bones to ice. A man sobbing softly because the road before him is long, dark, lonely, and there’s no turning back. The fire was set, and his words can’t extinguish them. But he sobs because he’s afraid that deep down, he never will be that man his father told him to be. I have been that man. Those tears will never be shed again. I can still feel their scars on my eyelids.
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