The Crying Game

Most women don’t really want to be with a cry baby kind of guy, unless, of course, it’s a woman who’s not really a woman but a seventeen year old girl from 1983 who listened to Morrissey. What’s wrong with a guy crying you might say in your best I listen to NPR (and I’m a member) and drive a Subaru voice? Nothing, I would say quietly. Then I would add some other things Like: But, most women really, really, want to see their guy spit out a couple of tears at some point in their time together. The women understand the crying. I don’t think I’m being sexy* when I say that women cry a lot compared to the opposite gender. My first thought is, why do they want to see us shed a tear? They have it covered solidly. And I guess we all know the answer. That’s how us fellows can prove that we’re in touch with our emotions. The women would like to see water run out of our eyes. A fast ball straight to the socket won’t really count and a piece of grass stuck in the corner won’t cut it. The tears are like a woman’s emotional passport. Let me be understood, I know my wife wouldn’t want to be with a guy who cried at the drop of a hat, but I occasionally see her checking my ducts at the end of a sad movie, looking to see if I have any little drippy passports coming out of my eyes.

Recently, our one and a half year old (I really can’t wait until she’s two because that’s much easier to type than “one and a half year old”) Iris has been waking up in the middle of the night and crying. It’s very hard to handle. She’s our third child, so I’m not talking about that, “oh, is she ok. Should we go get her.” Running through the check list of was she fed, what was the diaper status and all that. I’m just saying that it’s annoying. She may cry for 10 or 15 minutes then she goes back to sleep. My wife, let’s call her Cynthia, can sleep through this. I can’t. This isn’t the best example for the point I’m about to make since many men probably can sleep through the baby crying at night. Let’s say we’re in the car driving and the baby starts crying. Cynthia can knit or whatever, once she’s determined that she’s probably hungry and we’ll pull over at the next exit to get something to eat. I can’t take the crying. Fortunately, for me – and now for you, I have a theory.

When the babies are crying I think some deep primordial thing takes me over. There was a time when the man’s role was to hunt (or gather – for the NPR people who have not left in disgust) and provide some form of protection for his family. Well, we’ve come along way, crybaby. Those days are mostly gone and the playing field has been made more level – even though men still need to take out the garbage and mow the lawn. It’s sort of unwritten. In days of very long ago, a crying baby could have meant something was attacking your family. Crying could also indicate that cave child jr. hadn’t had a decent meal in over a week.  Well, there’s some pressure to get out there and kill something. One would feel agitated with a certain sense of urgency. The caveman would want to kill something to stop the baby from crying – to thwart the danger or feed the hungry furry little child. So, that’s it. That’s why I want to get out of the car and chase something down and kill it when I hear the baby crying. I’m only trying to do what a caveman me would want to do.

I was happy to have this figured out for myself. Now I know why I want to kill something (hang up on that call to social services – it’s not the child) when a baby cries nonstop. But something didn’t make sense. How could the mother not be affected the way I am. How could the mother be so calm. Is my theory flawed? Then it dawned on me. Something deep down inside the mother was having a reaction also. Obviously, on one level the mother wanted to do whatever it took to get the child out of harm’s way. But, something changed when the crying reached a level of what I considered dire consequences. At this level of intensity, something in the mother, harkening back to caveman days, and simply said, “Oh, well, I’ll just have to make another one.” This is what allowed Cynthia to sleep though the night crying while Iris’ larynx did a decibel dance or to calmly knit in the car when the shrill multi-pitched noises being emitted from our car had dogs running at the car, deer running along side the car, and other cars running faster to get away from the car.

Just for the record before having kids I couldn’t remember the last time I cried. But, I’m man enough to acknowledge that my nerves are shot and the nonstop crying of a baby (the third one) is almost enough to get me to cave and weep like a little boy who’s fallen out of the tree house. Here’s what’s stopping me women. And listen good. First off, I’m not programmed to cry. It’s not because I’m too macho or tough. It’s much simpler than that. I’m programmed not to snivel. There I said it. I don’t even like the word snivel. One letter away from swivel – which I totally love and could do all day. Snivelling involves one’s nose running. Snivelling is the vacuuming of snot back into your head. Real men do not vacuum watery mucus back into their heads. If the mucus is not wiped clean of the upper lip runway immediately there are two problems encountered. First, you’ve got your “Code 11”. The “11” refers to the mucus streaming down from each nostril, thick and solid. It appears as two distinct ones on the upper lip runway – thus code 11. If you’ve reached code 11 you’re already in danger of problem number two. This is very obviously the concern that said mucus is going to breach the mouth area. This is definitely not what a fellow wants. If this happens the next thing could be some kind of mucus snot bubble possibly experienced when hitting a linoleum (parquet for you younger fellows) floor at the age of 2. You see these are the things first and foremost in a fellow’s head when it comes to deciding if and when he should start the waterworks flowing.  Because of this aversion to the mucus and the nose and the running most guys really already have a few predetermined times when they will possibly let go of some tears. One time, for some, may be one of those long night “discussions” where the only way to really get to sleep is to let her see you give up a tear – maybe a tiny snot bubble if you really want to get to sleep pronto. The other times are for a few people dying.

With all that said, I hope I don’t seem callous or unfeeling. I’m sorta just telling the truth. In full disclosure, I should say that a fellow is more likely to get a bit misty eyed over something happy. Like a kid getting married or a favorite team going to the Superbowl or maybe even by something his wife does. For example, if I walk in on Cynthia while she’s at the end of an Audrey Hepburn movie and she’s not crying, I almost tear up with happiness. Men really don’t know how to deal with the movie cry. What can you kill. Where do you look? What can you do? If it’s late at night you can quickly make an excuse and say you’re going to see if the baby is crying (if you’ve got one – otherwise go take out the garbage) and quickly exit before there may need to be some talk about the ending of the sad movie. When you leave the room, your wife may think you’re a great guy for volunteering to go check on the baby and this may make her cry some more – this time out of happiness. All the time she’ll be thinking somewhere in the back of her head, “I wonder when he’s going to cry.” The answer is you’re not. Repeat after me. I will not vacuum mucus back up into my head.

Sadly Yours,

Jason Spafford

*Can’t not acknowledge reference to Spinal Tap

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