As someone with a deep and longstanding passion for crying, I’ve sobbed in a variety of fun and kooky situations over the years. These are the definitive top five times I’ve burst into tears in public places.
#5: Dad didn’t buy the right videogame for his trash son
Approx. Amount of Tears: not that many but still too many
The year was 2011 and I was a spoiled brat who played too many videogames. I had one upcoming game on the brain in particular: LittleBigPlanet 2, the hottest platformer not yet on the market, and it was about to be released in a shiny special edition featuring approximately a buttload of bonus content and a little plush character. It was coming out on a school day and I wanted to make sure I snagged a special edition copy before they sold out at GameStop, so I enlisted the help of Papa Shapiro to drive over while I was at school and pick me up a copy. He had planned an elaborate reveal to surprise me with the videogame when I least expected it, assumedly to pinpoint the exact moment I filled with joy at the sight of it. In a tragic twist of fate however, when he picked me up from school the game I found sitting in the passenger seat of the car wasn’t the special edition I had asked for but rather the normal version – something that, as a devoted gamer and terrible child, I was far above. Like the trash monster I was, I responded to this by promptly bursting into tears upon opening the car door, mourning the loss of the plush videogame character that I would have surely cherished for years and definitely not left to collect dust in the corner of my bedroom. My dad felt terrible because he loved me more than I deserved at the time, but I cut my tantrum short and apologized as soon as I started playing the game and realized that I was being a demon child.
#4: Some dogs died in a book
Approx. Amount of Tears: an appropriate amount
I was what some experts would call “a sensitive child” growing up, and sixth grade was a particularly fraught time for me as I was rapidly approaching full-blown preteen status. This was exasperated when my English class was assigned to read Where The Red Fern Grows, a book that (spoiler alert) is very sad and traumatic for an aspiring veterinarian like sixth grade Joey Shapiro. When I came into class the day after finishing it, I told my friend about the tears I had shed reading the ending, to which he responded, “Why did you think it was sad? I didn’t.” I was caught off-guard and literally became speechless for a moment at the idea that the deaths of Old Dan and Little Ann, two of literature’s most beloved redbone coonhounds, didn’t even qualify as mildly upsetting to someone I considered a close friend. I started stammering an explanation but couldn’t get any fully-formed sentences out because I was already sobbing at the thought of the mountain lion attack that robbed Billy Colman of his beloved pups. My friend thought I was pretending to ugly-cry as a joke and he started laughing, which just made me cry harder because that’s just my normal crying face, Michael, I’m sorry if it wasn’t what you expected and I’m sorry you don’t share my passion for fictional animals that die tragic and unexpected deaths.
#3: Adam Sandler tricked me into watching Click
Approx. Amount of Tears: more than Adam Sandler deserves
As an extreme devotee of Adam Sandler’s early film work in the ‘90s, I was beyond thrilled to experience his newest film Click in a real-life movie theater setting. The trailers made it look like a fun and wacky good time, which was exactly what 9 year-old me was all about. I went to see it with my older brother and his friend Paul, thinking I was about to witness a cinematic marvel of slapstick humor and fart jokes – my preferred form of joke at that stage of my life – but nothing could prepare me for what I was about to see. It started off just as I expected: goofy, dumb fun as only the Sandman can deliver. As it went on though it took a turn for the worse; the unexpected death of a dog signaled that this was not the movie I had signed on for, and soon Adam Sandler was confronting the death of his parents and grappling with existential crises. Happy Gilmore hadn’t prepared me for this, and by the third act tears were streaming down my face as I was subjected to the bleakest movie I had seen thus far in my life. Yes, the story has a happy ending, and no, I don’t remember what that ending was because I was far too disturbed by the sight of Adam Sandler tearfully trying to rewind time at his father’s gravesite so that he can apologize for being a bad son. But hey, at least there was a great David Hasselhoff fart joke in the first half of the movie!
#2: Drunk crying to Bonnie Tyler
Approx. Amount of Tears: total eclipse of my tear ducts
Freshman year of college was definitely the most tumultuous year of my adolescent life; I was a hot mess minus the hotness, and by the time winter break was coming around I was rapidly approaching rock bottom. I had two unrequited crushes at the time – I regularly wore a pair of salmon jeans with a t-shirt covering in cat pictures, which didn’t help my chances with girls – but decided I was going to deal with it maturely and let out my unbridled teen angst in a positive way by throwing a small party with my closest friends on the night before we all flew home for break. The party was going great and I was slowly but surely drowning my sorrows in sunset blush Franzia boxed wine until my friend Brooke decided to make a deeply tragic DJing decision. “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler blasted full force from my speakers and immediately all my sadboii feelings rushed back to the surface with a vengeance. “Every now and then I get a little bit lonely,” Bonnie confessed, and in that moment she was the only person on earth that understood the anguish of my fragile teenage heart. My eyes welled up and I knew I couldn’t let my cool new college friends see me in this disheveled state, so I dove for the big heart-shaped sunglasses on my bedside table and slapped them on face without raising my friends’ suspicions at all. So there I sat, wine-drunk and covertly sobbing to the greatest power ballad of the 1980s wearing oversized heart glasses like the protagonist of a shitty knockoff Wes Anderson movie. I have yet to sink lower.
#1: March of the Penguins wasn’t funny
Approx. Amount of Tears: enough to fill one of the many Antarctic seas to which emperor penguins migrate annually
I wasn’t quite a bona fide film person yet in the summer of 2005, and my ADHD was at the time undiagnosed and running wild; in other words, I couldn’t sit still for five minutes in a movie theater unless the movie had wall-to-wall action to keep me entertained. It’s a marvel that my parents seemed to overlook this when they suggested we see the newest critically-acclaimed film to arrive at the Edwards Alhambra Renaissance 14 in beautiful Southern California: March of the Penguins. As an animal lover I was intrigued, but as a child sans attention span I wasn’t quite sold. My mom informed me, however, that Morgan Freeman narrates the entire movie and that it was probably a very funny comedy. Eight year-old me knew how to have a good time, and a comedy about penguins voiced by the guy from Bruce Almighty – a film I had viewed many times by this point in my life – sounded like a rollercoaster ride of laughs that I would never forget. I still haven’t forgotten it, because five minutes into the film it dawned on me that my parents had no taken me to see a fun new comedy but rather an austere nature documentary about penguins marching through 62 miles of an icy hellscape just to fuck each other. I nudged my mom in desperation, whisper-yelling, “This movie isn’t funny, Mom!” but I was promptly shushed by Mama Shapiro. So I tried again a few minutes later only to receive the same dismissal. I sat there for 20 minutes like that, squirming and hyperventilating in my state of extreme boredom until my emotions finally got the best of me and I burst into tears right there and then in that theater. I started nudging my poor suffering mother again and quiet-screaming through the tears, “I want to leave now, Mom,” and this time she had no choice but to remove the sobbing child from the premises, if only to avoid disrupting an entire theater full of penguin enthusiasts. I haven’t watched March of the Penguins since that traumatic incident, and I don’t think I ever will. Just the thought of horny penguins still sends me into a violent rage to this day.
HONORABLE MENTION: Saw a dog drinking a smoothie
Approx. Amount of Tears: none but I almost threw up in my passion for this dog
Sunday morning and I’m sleep-deprived in Oberlin College’s finest eating establishment, Stevenson Dining Hall, known to local college teens as simply Stevie. I’m scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed on my phone instead of interacting with my three friends who are sitting with me – something many people who know me will recognize as a classic Joey Shapiro move – when I come across the video. A small white dog is facing the camera, lifting himself above a table with his two front paws and lapping up a green smoothie with its tongue like nobody’s business.
This tiny animal, a tragic but adorable product of forced inbreeding and genetic deformities over the course of many generations, is just licking away at this smoothie and I cannot look away. The video is 15 seconds long and I watch it on a loop for at least 10 minutes, getting so involved in the video that my eyes start to well up and I feel physically nauseous; I am so worked up over this dog that I am about to simultaneously cry and puke in the middle of the dining hall. I do some quick deep breathing exercises and bounce back to operating at full steam, having come dangerously close to violently expelling tears and/or vomit from my body because I love this smoothie dog too much. I think it was a justified reaction.
Johnny Depp: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-8AA7-rl2zsI/UxlooiztD_I/AAAAAAAAOVA/r2Iskv14pzQ/s1600/Screen+shot+2014-03-06+at+11.18.29+PM.png
Where The Red Fern Grows: http://www.ingramwildlife.com/redfern.jpg
Bonnie Tyler: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/Sf2IWOrm2WI/maxresdefault.jpg