Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Don't ever let 'em see you cry

I wrote this to someone earlier today:

Oh I was messed up in the head but out loud I was all like, "No, I'm fine. You can't help it, right? If you don't love me you don't love me. Let me get my stuff and I'll go home."

He was all, "You'll find somebody."

And I was all, "Of course I will. You don't think you're the only man on the planet, do you?"

Then I went home and waded in my salty lake of tears.

And the response I got reminded me of something Jane Espenson once said that I think needs repeating. And for all I remember she may well have gotten it from someone else, but I got it from her so I'll give her the credit.

She said it's a lot sadder to watch someone try not to cry than to watch them pour out buckets of tears with no effort to hold it back.

So true. I was watching Glory the other night and was reminded of how incredible that cast is. There is a scene in that film where Denzel Washington's character stands naked from the waste up while his drill sergeant whips him, but it's obvious from the massive amount of scars down his back that whipping is something he knows well.

As the whip is drawing new lines down his back he stares straight at his commanding officer, played by Matthew Broderick, and refuses to cry out. But after a few hits a his eyes well up and despite his struggle to remain completely defiant tears start to creep down his cheek.

It's heartbreaking.

But when you see people just wail and cry it's usually kind of comical. There's a deeper sadness, I think, when you see the tears of someone who's trying desperately not to let you know how much they're hurting. It's powerful stuff.


  1. Great Post!

    It is the same with almost any emotion.

    It's funnier watching people try not to laugh.
    It's a happier moment when someone smiles as opposed to screaming out in joy.
    It's sexier to watch a man and woman kissing and disrobing than it is to see them actually have intercourse.

  2. It's a good point. And if we examine it, I think it may stem from the fact that if they're trying not to cry, there is a second emotion involved -- not just sadness, but perhaps some embarrassment at their personal feelings being discovered by someone else.

  3. Totally. It's another layer of subtext.

    Someone is obviously scared but cracking jokes. Someone loves the girl but asks about the other girl.

    It's not duplicity, it's real human depth.

    Love it.

  4. Anonymous1:53 PM

    Another thing about "Glory":

    Matthew Broderick's really underappreciated (at the time) performance as Colonel Shaw. The guy was just coming off his Ferris Bueller persona when he got the role. But he played the role to a tee (and supposedly he's related to the historical figure.)

    And that final sequence from the start of the charge at Ft. Wagner to the very end could make a grown man almost cry for both Denzel and Broderick's characters. One of the best war movies I've seen.

  5. Anonymous3:01 PM

    Not sure if I'm reading between the lines or not but going through experiences like this...

    Even IF it's over and over and over again...

    Makes you a better writer.

    Shit, that's why I am a writer... LOL.


  6. Anonymous3:59 PM

    Love is hardest to find when you're looking to hard to find it.

    Holy crap, that's awesome. I should copyright that. Oh wait, I'm drunk and it probably sucks. Nevermind.

  7. Oh don't worry, I'm okay.

    Really okay, not hiding my tears okay.

    This was several months ago. I'm on to new things, but I was sharing a heartbreak story and realized it was a good example of subtext.


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