The Crying Game
Not an original title I know, and I didn't want to use the other chestnut, 'Boys Don't Cry', because I'd like to witter on today about how good it is that boys - of all ages - cry.
The classic example from a couple of days ago is Roger Federer, tennis ace extraordinaire. Renowned for his "cool and clinical" approach to the game, he ------- actually, scratch that last phrase. I've always hated it when lazy sports journos and commentators have described his game as 'cool and clinical' because it smacks of disrespect and doesn't give him the praise he deserves for his skills, athleticism and demeanour. Besides, it's not as though he's some unthinking robot for goodness' sake! Instead, I'll go with the Athletic, Accurate and Awesome Ace of tennis. Hell, of sport as a whole and his cuteness doesn't hurt things either.
However, like an errant yellow ball hit out of bounds on a neighbourhood court, I'm way off topic. What actually surprised any of us who watched the Australian Open final between him and Marcos Baghdatis is that Federer got rather emotional after the game, with tears flowing rather freely. Who would have thought it: that the Systematic Swiss Steamroller would start crying?
And what did we do - we loved him even more, of course! Just when the 20 year old eager upstart Marcos B threatened to win our hearts and minds completely, Federer just had to welcome the water works and we were back in Federer Fan Land once again. Bless his little cotton blend double-aerated Nike tennis socks.
The following morning saw another male crying, this time right in front of me. It was Sapphire's first day of school for the year, and her seven year old classmate Giles wasn't coping too well with the idea. He buried his face into his mother's dress, trying to hide his fear from the other kids. Not that any of them could have cared less - they were all far too busy checking out their 'new' classroom and new teacher. Giles' Dad squatted down in front of him, took his hand and said, "It's OK son. I cried when I started school too." This worked rather well, and Giles skipped off uncertainly into the classroom. "Gee that was well done," I remarked to his Dad.
"Yeah. And I still cry. I'm a high school teacher."
What other occasions have I witnessed a boy or man cry? In my presence, my older brother Rob. At eighteen, he was already living and going to university in Adelaide, and came home every now and then to have his washing done, sleep in, grunt and eat everything that lacked a pulse. At sixteen, I was enraged to discover that his nightime nibbling had included my very favourite choc chip muesli bars (yes, I was young and hadn't got out much).
"Why did you eat them all? YOU DON'T LIVE HERE ANY MORE!" I shouted at him.
His eyes filled with tears as he shoved past me. Later that day I discovered that he hated living at the residential college, felt completely out of place and loathed his uni course with a passion. How lonely and trapped he must have felt. Besides, the food they got at Lincoln out-stank that from Oliver's orphanage.
When he and I lived together for a few months in our early twenties, he cried regularly when chopping the onions for whichever horrific concoction he was serving up that night. Onion tears don't really count, but he did look pretty funny wearing his swimming goggles one night. And no, goggles don't do anything to prevent the juice from devilishly pinging your eye balls.
My little brother, Dave, cried all the damn time. Mostly because I thumped him. He would deliberately do something to annoy me so that I'd snap and give him a dead leg, or, if really pissed off, a henpeck. For some reason, he was deluded enough to think that he was finally strong enough to physically beat me, and, until the age of fourteen, was continually proved wrong. He'd run off to either Mum or Dad, his mouth shaped into an 'O' of outrage and his eyes full of tears. "Buzz off Dave," they'd say disinterestedly, before he'd even get the dobbing words out. "Whatever you got, it was very likely you deserved it."
Dad was a far more elusive character to catch crying. Rob thinks he may have seen a tear or two emerge the day that he got smacked by a cricket ball right in the box (which cracked on impact), but he's not entirely sure. He was and is, the master of cracking his bald bonce up against the roof of the car, top edge of the trailer and against anything in the wood working shed. I'd wager that a few tears of sheer impotent rage accompanied the stars of pain swimming in front of his eyes. Recently we all witnessed him crying when he had concluded the eulogy for Grandpa's funeral. His words were eloquent, heartfelt, respectful and humorous and for that, his tears were natural and fitting.
I've never made my beloved Love Chunks cry, or at least not that he's admitted to me. He is a real pushover when it comes to sad movies however. When the clown character is trying to hang himself in 'Brassed Off' he blew rather too loudly into his handkerchief; he pinched me when I smiled mockingly at him during scenes from 'I am Sam' and he still cries every time he and Sapphire watch 'ET' on DVD.
David May cried and cried in year six. I'm so sorry about that David; please accept this heartfelt apology that's only 27 years too late. Then, in 1979, David was supposedly my boyfriend. I knew this because he got Matthew Cullen to throw me a note that read: Do you love me - yes or no. I love you, but only if you tick 'yes'.
As was the norm for eleven year olds, any boyfriend/girlfriend relationships were based on violence. If you were pinched, punched, chased or had your hair pulled, the romance was on. As one of the tallest girls of my year, I towered over pretty much all of the boys and my strength was formidable thanks to having two brothers who helped my henpecking, dead-legging and chinese burning skills. David ran up to me, gave me a swift punch in the arm which was a clear courtship sign for me to chase him, catch him and give him one right back. Unfortunately I was a bit too enthusiastic in my return thump and didn't stop at just one. I left him lying on the sandy ground under the monkey bars, crying his eyes out. He didn't punch me ever again, nor did he ignore me totally, as was the other form of courtship. Lucky for David, puberty kicked in when we were at highschool and he was at least six feet tall and rather spunky when I last saw him, so hopefully he found a partner less pugilistic and more appreciative of his other charms.