08/06/2012 12:29 pm ET Updated Oct 06, 2012

A Good Blubbering

Dear Waldo,

Me and my best friend Duke went hunting last week, and I got nothing and he got a doe. He's a real good shot. He was a marine who got a little bit of damage. I'm about twice as big as Duke is, so after we gutted the deer I was carrying it out, and we were just walking along when I made the mistake of telling Duke about what happened yesterday. What happened yesterday was that I drove my daughter to the airport so she could fly off to college, and I walked back to the short term parking lot and then I just sat there in my truck for a while blubbering away because off she went for who knows how long. Duke couldn't believe his ears. He smacked me on the back of the head and called me a girlie man and then a weakling and then a crybaby and I said Oh Yeah? and dropped the deer down and stomped away. Later Duke came over to my place and we just sat around for a while. Then he went back out and came back in with deer steaks all wrapped up and he said Here and then he just left. Looking at that meat, the truth is I felt like crying again but did not. My problem is, I believe I get that feeling in my throat of wanting to cry more often than most men get it. Is it something I should do something about?

Your Truly,


Dear Chester,

As far as crying goes, I'm going to make a prediction: Public Bawling is going to be the next big thing. Someone of high international repute is going to cry openly on television about the state of the world and then justify it with clarity and eloquence, and suddenly everybody will be free to do what they've been wanting to do for a long time, which is cry hard about things.

Why do we cry at all? Well, nonstop blood-curdling wailing makes great evolutionary sense for helpless babies panicked about survival. And a good loud help-me yowl also makes great survival sense for older children baffled by strangers or by the sight of their own blood or by just plain pain. What the Crier is really saying is, Folks, my emotional circuits have been blown by too much confusing input and help would be nice.

Chester, you may say that this doesn't explain those tears of yours sitting in your truck. Or tears at weddings, or at movies, or in response to random kindnesses, or surprise beauty, or even at funerals. But I think it does. Your fuses were not blown by danger, no, but by the raining down of fragmented thoughts, the ganging up of quieter forces: the thought of never seeing your little girl again; wishing you had held her longer; your own aging; you when you were her age; the off-stage rustling of distant blunders, shapeless regrets, vague detached panic. This kind of quiet emotional bombardment is common at milestone events such as weddings and funerals, and it's not far from childhood panic in its confusion.

The bigger question is how come your pal Duke smacked you on the back of the head? For men like Duke -- that is, for most men -- crying is a sign of weakness. This is an absurd scrap left over from the days when survival left the Big Muscle duties to the men. Let's see you catch a wooly-mammoth while weeping. Let's see you fend off angry Bushmen while sobbing. Women, however, can cry while stitching. Boil while blubbering. Nurse a child while shedding happy tears.

And also there's this: Throughout time, the vulnerability of a weeping female delivers to the male a good opportunity to take the female into his arms, both reinforcing his role of protector and giving himself some slim hope that the female might notice through all of the fur that there is an erect penis resting on her thigh.

Which leads us to the sexual implications of crying. On a superficial level, crying and sex have this in common: when you do either one, you're apt to make an unbecoming face and then out come fluids. But more significantly, if a man allows himself to do what women do, which is cry when they feel like crying--Uh-oh. Now a man's Man-ness comes into question. Not good for King of the Jungle. Now he might have to shine some light into that darkness beneath the deep layers of pink-ruffled horror where the sleeping homosexual in every male on the planet waits to be shaken awake.

Therefore, I don't think your pal Duke is about to cry any time soon Chester, and he'll probably keep swatting you every time you do. But don't let that stop you, whenever you got a real beauty of a lump going in your throat, from blubbering away. In my experience, a good cry never fails to improve things. You might be able to get a good one going, thinking about that buddy of yours who's all locked up in this regard. And good God, wouldn't a good cry do wonders for that guy?

Your Fan,

Waldo Mellon