PALMDALE, Fla. - To weep crocodile tears is to pretend a sorrow that one does not in fact feel, but the term has nearly the opposite meaning to Roberta Thorpe. When she weeps, not only are her tears heartfelt, but they are also shaped like crocodiles. "While I was growing up, my father and mother ran a crocodile farm, where they gave tours and demonstrations," recalled Thorpe. "I loved helping them with it until I left for college. Tragically, they both died a few years later in a car accident. I had to sell the crocodile farm. It was a very traumatic time for me and I still often cry whenever I think of my parents and their farm. I was stunned, though, when a friend pointed out that my tears were coming out crocodile-shaped."
An explanation for this bizarre occurrence is offered by Professor Lawrence Fielding of the Florida State University Department of Biology. "Intense trauma has been known to produce highly unusual physical reactions within and without the human body. Hair can turn white overnight. Blood can become blue or green. Patterns of religious figures can appear on the skin. Same with the crocodile-shaped tears. They're all physical manifestations of psychological injury. Rather than break down, the body simply channels the pain visually." Thorpe, meanwhile, has begun an e-mail correspondence with another such person who's manifesting his trauma physically. "He's a nine year old boy who is teased every day for being small. They call him 'Shrimp.' He's begun developing a hard shell and a tail. I tell him he's not alone."