Recent events aside, tears rarely flow from eyes. Entire calender years have passed where I did not cry once. This is not to say that I did not face unhappiness, obviously. It is just that, under normal day-to-day circumstances, I don’t cry that easily. I am confident that it is some sort of bad, gendered, stilted emotion thing learned during my childhood (therapy probably is required).
So, I began thinking, what does actually bring tears to my eyes? I mean, besides a spouse who stabbed me in the heart by breaking every promise he ever made to me (and that’s going to help my trust issues – yet more therapy. Man, I better find my Employee Benefits Manual to see if I have enough coverage for all of this.).
Beyond that, not many things move me to tears. Here, though, are some guaranteed Kleenex moments for GayProf:
- The Color Purple
Most times, I feel like Spielberg films try to manipulate me. Saving Private Ryan, for instance, just made me angry. Beyond being historically dubious, I don’t like a film that intentionally elicits an emotional response for some ulterior motive.
Still, The Color Purple gets me every time. Alice Walker’s novel ranks infinitely superior (worth the read, if you have not), but the film makes me as weepy as a willow. At what point do I get misty eyed? Oh, probably the opening credits when Celie and Nettie are playing in the sunflower field. You just know that the next thirty years of Celie’s life is going to be a living hell. Yet, they are happily playing – with sunflowers! It will be the last joy Celie has for a long, long, long time. Sob.
Don’t even get me started about the scene where the mean bar women make fun of Celie’s hat. Just when Celie lets these slags make her feel like garbage, Shug sings her a song that she wrote just for Celie. Really sobbing.
If a tear doesn’t form in your eye during this film, you are a heartless bastard.
"Brass in Pocket" Video
Okay, the Pretenders had this little song in the early eighties about “being special” and using all of your unique attributes to attract somebody. That sounds nice, right? It is nice -- until you see the evil video.
Chrissie Hynde sings this little ditty as she works in a dead-end job as a waitress. Men enter the restaurant, and Hynde tries to show them that there is “no one else there -- no one like her.” She’s special.
Okay – all is fine, until the men’s girlfriends show up. At the end of the video, Hynde is left singing "Brass in Pocket," but now in an ironic way. She looks mournfully out the window as the happy couples drive away. This poorly made, twenty-year-old video still haunts me. Waitress Hynde deserves some love, people.
New Mexican pride means I can take the spiciest food out there. I welcome Mexican food that claims to burn holes in your stomach. Green Chile? The hotter, the better. Asian food? Let the chile acid burn-off the flesh from the roof of my mouth. It will grow back, and the spice just helps you digest the food. You would be hard pressed to see me flinch with these types of spices.
The simple condiment horseradish, however, will require a Bounty super roll to wipe away the tears. Don’t get me wrong, I love horseradish. It affects me, though, in ways that most mortals wouldn’t believe. My parents gave us green chile or other peppers as part of our daily dose of Vitamin C. Yet, they apparently had some type of bizarre anti-condiment agenda. I was sixteen before I even tasted horseradish. Not being used to it, my eyes now water like faucets. If ever I land a recurring role on Guiding Light, just give me a pack of Arby’s horsey sauce. Downing said packet will be all the prep I need for any sad acting that they might require.
When I am overweight, the gym scale brings up much dread and maybe a stray tear. You would think, therefore, now that I have lost much weight, my old nemesis would not bother me.
Silly reader – GayProf is way too neurotic to enjoy something like that. Now the scale makes me wonder if I have lost muscle mass. Maybe the weight loss occurred in the wrong areas. Ugh – I blame society, man.
Billie Holiday Songs
If I am really listening, I mean really listening, Holiday’s angst can elicit a tear. This woman had a hard, miserable life. Her father rarely had anything to do with her. He abandoned Billie and her mother during her early childhood. Wanting to keep the fact that he had children a secret from his numerous girlfriends, her father also discouraged Billie from approaching him if they ever encountered each other on the street.
By her thirteenth birthday, she became involved in prostitution. Though she gained fame for her startling voice starting in the 1930s, she also became increasingly dependent on drugs. By 1940, heroine and abusive relationships dominated her life.
Worse still, Diana Ross portrayed Holiday in a film biopic. Though she died long before this film, Holiday probably sensed the bad, bad, things that the Ross movie would represent. No one deserves Diana Ross to play your part in a film. How cruel!
All of this suffering comes through Holiday’s recordings, particularly the post-war era. Nobody – no, really – NOBODY could sing about pain, suffering, and want like Billie Holiday. Listen and weep.
Tears of frustration sometimes roll down my face when I look over students’ papers. Many students write excellent papers, and those are a joy to read and grade. It is the students who submit papers with only an hour’s worth of effort that hurt. It isn’t the grammar, which often needs help. It is the total lack of knowledge about the past. As university students in a U.S. history class, they shouldn’t submit papers discussing “slaves’ activities during the 1920s.”
Okay – how poorly prepared are they if they don’t know that slavery ended in the U.S. around 1865? Hey, I am not even a date-driven history prof. You don’t have to know 1865 – just have an approximation. I would be content with, for instance, a student who knew that slavery stopped sometime in the middle of the nineteenth century.
No matter how poorly written or how little time students gave to their papers, I have to read all of them. A colleague of mine has a theory that we are only paid because we have to grade. Almost every other aspect of this job we would do for free. Research? Love it. Teaching? It’s grand. Chatting with students? They are most often interesting folk. Grading? I’d rather be branded by the fireplace poker.
Coming-out stories dominate almost all queer films and novels in circulation. As a result of their ubiquitousness, coming-out tales usually don’t impress me anymore. Come on queer folk, as a people, can’t we come up with some other genre besides the coming-out tale? Please? We do other things, too, you know.
Still, the quirky little British film Beautiful Thing results in some tears shed. Two queer boys making their own happiness, despite their poverty and dysfunctional families, taps into something in my emotional makeup. Plus, all of the drama unfolds to Mama Cass recordings!
George Bush did not win the 2000 election. No matter which way you slice it, Al Gore had more votes. He had more popular votes nation wide, and he had more votes in Florida. So, why wasn’t he president? I am still not over 2000, even if the public did return Bush to office in 2004 (something else that could make me cry).
2000 causes many tears for me. It marked such a bad turn for this nation. Go ask Jimmy Carter. He feels what I am laying down.
Futurama, Episode 4ACV07, “Jurassic Bark”
First, Fox’s insane decision to cancel Futurama almost brings tears to my eyes, but not quite. Seriously, though, they ax Futurama and give us the sexist garbage The War at Home? Surely this shows that Satan masquerades as Rupert Murdoch.
“Jurassic Bark,”to bring us back on topic, made me cry like a silly fool. In this episode, Fry discovered that his twentieth-century dog, Seymour, had been petrified for ten centuries. Using zany technology, Fry's nephew, the professor, offers to bring Seymour back to life (more or less). Fry ultimately refuses when he discovers that Seymour lived an additional ten years beyond the time that Fry disappeared. Fry reasoned that the dog had another life beyond him.
What we discover, though, is that Seymour spent those ten years loyally waiting for Fry to return to him. Man, I get weepy just thinking about that poor little dog waiting day after day for his owner to reunite with him. All he wanted was to share the good times he once knew with Fry. For his part, Fry could have fulfilled the dog’s greatest wish to see him again, but unknowingly cast him aside. -- Excuse me, I have something in my eye. --