I’ve never been one of those people who can cry at a movie. In fact, I can count on a single hand the number of films that have reduced me to genuine, unabashed tears: they include: “The Truman Show,” “Lord of War,” “Avatar” and, semi-humiliatingly, “Rudy.”
It’s not that I don’t enjoy a good cry as much as the next person. In fact, I am a big crier. A HUGE crier! I cry when I’m angry, I cry when I’m overwhelmed, I cry, sometimes even, when I’m merely bored. (Not kidding.)
But the brain is a lazy and selfish mechanism, and it’s as if my particular brain simply cannot abide the thought of crying for something or someone else. The pure self-indulgence of lying on my bed sniffling away over some half-tragic and decades-gone love affair strikes my brain as a totally a legit use of a Saturday afternoon. But when that emotionality is turned outward, my brain protests so noisily that the moment is inevitably ruined.
And it’s not like I don’t try. For example, yesterday when I was watching a movie about John Lennon. I knew it was going to be a tearjerker, and I was so down with that. So we get to the flashpoint moment of the whole sad story and they’re running all these old film reels of John and Yoko and Sean as they’re celebrating birthdays and dancing crazy and snuggling in their pajamas looking so ridiculously happy and you just know it’s coming. And I felt my chest start to bubble up into my throat.
As I watched a now-old Yoko struggling to retain her composure, as the sad music kicked on, as the old home movie footage rolled unstoppable toward its too-soon ending point, a pleasantly deep chill kicked on in my chest and started its slow spread down my arms and legs. I squeezed my fingers tight around the stem of my wine glass like it was some rare and doomed flower.
And then: BOOM! No more John.
The spaces behind my eyes got hot as I watched the ever-retiring, ever-striking Yoko raise a gnarled hand to her forehead and stare blank-eyed into the heart of her greatest disappointment. And I want to cry, because it is a tragedy so senseless it seemed somehow preordained, like something she’d always known, he’d always known, something we’d all always known.
My face smooshed up and the tears started to drip out from the corners of my eyeballs as if they were a pair of leaky faucets.
And my brain started in with its incessant grumbling.
Brain: Oh, seriously? Now you’re going to cry?
Me: Shhhhh! I’m watching.
Brain: C’mon. Do you have any idea what your face is doing right now?
Me: I can’t help it! Look at how sad Yoko still is. They were true loves.
Brain: PFAA! You don’t even KNOW them! They probably would’ve split up within the decade anyway. And What about ME? Try listening to MY problems for a change.
Me: SHUT THE FUCK UP! This is the BEST PART and you are RUINING IT!
Brain: I’m just saying. You look really ridiculous right now.
Me: Fine. Just forget it.
A couple of rogue tears rolled on down to my chin, now set in a square grimace. But the moment was ruined.
It’s like my brain is this grumpy sentry resigned to its tireless circular patrol. Like those sad and paunchy security guards who wander around the outsides of shopping malls after twilight time: underworked, eternally ambulatory, and at the ready to quash out frivolity of any, any kind, if for no other reason than to break up the endless hours of Nothing Much.
You’d think an educational documentary would be enough to keep my brain amused, but, no. I actually have enormous trouble finishing a lot of movies because my brain starts searching around for something more useful to do. Serious. Ask anyone. Watching a movie with me is rarely enjoyable, as I’m either talking on the phone, working on my computer, asking totally irrelevant questions about the characters, or sometimes all of those things at once.
The whole issue really begs the question of who is truly in the driver’s seat, here. I’m seriously, seriously beginning to wonder.