Op/Ed

Jessie Raymond: Bring on the tears

You might not know it to look at me, but I’m a crier.
Show me a touching video or play me a sad song, and I’m a blubbering mess in seconds.
I stopped going to the movies after “Up” — an emotional gut punch disguised as a children’s movie — because some rotten kid in the next row called me a “loser crybaby” less than 10 minutes into the film.
I’m sensitive.
But I have to admit, sometimes I like a good cry. So when the world starts to feel too cruel, I turn to YouTube, where I seek out heartwarming videos prefaced with the caveat “Get the tissues ready.” (I always do.)
The videos I’m drawn to include one of a soldier returning early from his deployment to surprise his little brother at a school assembly.
The boy jumps into his brother’s arms and buries his face in his neck while the students in the bleachers go wild.
I smile at the screen, mascara-tinged tears running down my cheeks.
In another, a successful young woman tells her long-suffering parents that she is paying off their mortgage. And in another, a deaf baby, just fitted with hearing aids, hears his mother’s voice for the first time. Wide-eyed, he giggles. She cries. I slither off my chair and dissolve into a salty puddle on the floor.
And that’s before I even get to the videos of rescued dogs.
A typical one starts with a fearful, emaciated stray dog getting trapped. After being treated at the vet’s and brought to her new home, the dog trembles uncontrollably and won’t make eye contact for a week.
Then one day, she wags her tail. Soon, she allows herself to be petted. Eventually, we see her romping around the yard playing fetch and, later, falling asleep in her new owner’s arms.
I close the laptop, sob for 15 minutes, then call in late to work.
It’s too beautiful.
But I don’t always go looking for tear-jerking triggers; sometimes they find me. This is particularly true around the holidays, and it’s happening again already.
Networks have begun airing poignant seasonal commercials — for everything from the ASPCA to toilet bowl cleaners — that wring me dry.
In a typical spot, for instance, a lonely old widower is startled by the sound of the doorbell on a snowy Christmas Eve.
Shuffling to the door, he is greeted by his college-age grandson, who holds up a distinctive canister of hot cocoa mix.
“You didn’t think I’d forget our Christmas tradition, did you, Pops?”
They embrace, and a voiceover touts the fine qualities of this brand of hot cocoa. As the commercial fades, through a frosty window we see the two men laughing and hugging and sipping cocoa by the Christmas tree.
Practical Me is mad. Pops has clearly spent days resigned to being alone on Christmas Eve because his inconsiderate grandson didn’t have the courtesy to call ahead.
But Tenderhearted Me thinks of the pure love between grandparents and grandchildren, and I weep. Then I think, for no particular reason, I could really go for a hot cocoa.
Not long ago, I was shopping at a Rutland craft store, where holiday music was playing over the PA system. (It was — no joke — the day after Halloween.) As I browsed, I found myself absently singing along with Bing Crosby: “I’ll be home for Christmas …”
Oh, no. Not that one. That one has a devastating twist at the end.
“You can count on me …”
I looked for a soundproof place to hide as the violins swelled for the final stanza.
Desperate, I plunged my head into a bin of red and green novelty yarns, which, in addition to being scratchy, lacked any appreciable noise-cancelling qualities.
“I’ll be home for Chri-ist-mas …”
I buried my head deeper in the bin. Would he be home for Christmas, just this once?
“… if only in my dreams.”
Nope.
I fought back the tears, but all I could think of was the people who wouldn’t be home for Christmas this year. It was too much.
Not only did I fall apart in public, but also the manager made me buy a case of mascara-stained red and green novelty yarn.
That was way back on Nov. 1, which means one thing: It’s going to be a long holiday season for this loser crybaby.

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