I lied to my wife last night. There, I said it, it's out there, you know, she knows and we all know. I'd relocated from my recliner in order to sit next to my best girl, perched there on the couch. I think she's the only thing I've done right in my 51 years on planet earth. And lest you think I've gone soft, I went to sit next to her to watch the marathon of "Rocky" movies they were showing on one of our zillion channels that we pay a zillion dollars to enjoy. They were at Rocky III which, for the record, is the last one to which I give any CREEDence (see what I did there?) They were at the point in the movie where Rocky resigned himself to not wanting to be the champ any longer. This was after Apollo had gone to the trouble of flying him out to Los Angeles to train him "old school." Adrian was looking dead into Rocky's eyes and asking "Why'd you come here?" I started getting misty...on many levels. First, I remembered the umpteen times I'd seen this movie in the theater with a posse of friends that still - through the magic of "social media" - are a part of my life. But also because I know that since February 22, 1997 I've faced situations much less serious than trying to be the heavyweight champion of the world where she's had no issue pulling me aside to say "Shut up and tell me what's happening in your mind right now." On this night she said "Are you crying??" I LIED and said "Uh, no....this cold has my eyes weeping..." She knows I was lying. She knows that I grew up respecting a Mama, three sisters (one adopted sister....I love you Judy) and a multitude of aunts I'm talking about women that could strangle chickens, dress hogs, play killer basketball or put supper on the table for a hundred WHENEVER the occasion called for such. The result is that I have a deep, deep respect for women and can't enjoy any entertainment that degrades, objectifies or depicts violence against them. Another result may just be that I've fought a life-long battle with being a man that cries. Crying is, after all, a pretty normal occurrence in a house full of females. So maybe I grew up thinking it's acceptable? Anyway...I'm out of the crying closet.
My propensity for shedding tears is well known to those around me. My wife tells me it's because I have a big heart. I think it's because I'm unstable. We're not talking about crying at funerals or other occaions that warrant crying. Yesterday I cried watching a car auction because proceeds from one vehicle went to help veterans injured in the line of duty. I cry when they play the National Anthem at ballgames. I cry when a bunch of kids sing "Away In A Manger" at Christmas. I cry when I think about how much I love my nieces and nephews and the fact that they may be the closest thing I'll ever come to having kids of my own. I cry when student athletes wearing White & Gold beat other student athletes wearing red & black, like they did back over Thanksgiving weekend. I cry when an old dog puts her head in my lap to make sure I'm ok or to ask me if we can go out in the cold to see if that noise in the backyard was a rabbit....or the wind chimes. Hell, I get misty when I eat a bowl of collards and cornbread because I think about my dearly departed Mama who taught me to love such delicacies. Speaking of dearly departed Mama, don't let my cd player come upon "The Best of Glen Miller" because I'll need a minute. And I cry at "Rocky" movies. Just dammit.................
There is ONE thing that makes me feel a bit less unstable about this embarrassing state of affairs. If you look through my middle sister's wedding album, there's one shot of my cousin Alan (who, along with his father, taught me most of what I know about being a man) sitting there crying...at a wedding. If you knew him, you'd know why that's surprising. He was a big man that was strong as an ox. I spent most of my adolescence trying to lift anything he'd just thrown in the back of a truck. He's the guy that could throw me in a lake to teach me how to swim, yet pull me aside and put his arm around me if he knew I was upset. He could smack me in the back of the head and show me a REAL body slam (not like the fake ones we watched on "Georgia Championship Wrestling) But he could also cry while we watched a re-run of "The Rookies" together one Saturday afternoon (Google is your friend. "The Rookies" is where the world first saw Kate Jackson, long before she was an "Angel") I'm no small man myself and people sometimes rely on me to lift heavy things. So whenever I feel the floodgates opening I remember Alan, and realize that's whatever started my waterworks would also start his. (And he'd be pissed - but not surprised - that I spent a month crying when cancer took him away from us way too soon.)
So does the shedding of tears still separate the sexes? I'm asking because, surely, I no longer know. Earlier today, on my random search for music, I came across Skynyrd playing Curtis Lowe. I shed a tear. Does that make me a redneck or a girl............or both?