Sunday, April 15, 2012 | Categories: Michael's Essays |
It happened at this year's Master's Golf Tournament won by the mellifluously named Bubba Watson. (Is there a feminine form of Bubba? Babba?)
Anyway, when Mr. Watson lovingly embraced his smiling mother, he burst into tears.
That made huge news, not just on the sports pages but on the front pages. It featured prominently in newscasts on radio and television.
He was immediately tagged "Blubbering Bubba." One report said of Bubba; "He became a helpless little boy."
Another had him "bawling his eyes out."
Experts from around the world were consulted by the overheated media.
Said a senior researcher in the Department of Obscurantism at Tel Aviv University; "Crying is highly evolved. Crying is a good evolutionary strategy to emotionally bond people to you."
A professor in Advanced Tautology at the University of California weighed in with: "Personality and attitude dictate different responses by different people in similar situations."
And a professor of Hysterical History and Addled Anthropology at Syracuse University suggested that the crying man came into fashion in the 1960s when the whole machismo thing came under attack.
"Men started wearing their hair longer," said the good professor, "and started talking about peace and love."
Which of course is nonsense. Men have been crying for millennia. The shortest sentence in the Bible is "Jesus wept."
But being very modern in our thinking, we have actually developed a medical condition called The Weepy Man Syndrome.
Take two Kleenex and call me in the morning.
For some reason, the sight of a man crying sets off storms of debate, especially among other men.
When John Boehner, the Republican pit bull from Ohio, became Speaker of the House of Representatives in the U.S., much was made of the fact that the new Speaker was of the weepy persuasion.
Apparently he was so lachrymose, he could cry at march pasts and basketball games. Even more than his predecessor --- ye Gods, a woman.
And therein lies the reason or part of the reason why media folk slip loose the grasp of common sense when talking about the subject - it's news when a man cries because it's only women who are supposed to cry.
It is the fabled man bites dog cliché come to life, clothed in a mild form of female stereotyping.
Crying is, in the words of some former California governor or other, something that only "girlie-men" do.
The fact is that men cry.
For all kinds of reasons.
Johnny Carson cried for hours following the funeral of Jack Benny.
Dwight Eisenhower cried after he visited his troops on the eve of the Normandy Invasion.
Walter Cronkite teared up when he announced the death of John F. Kennedy, on Nov. 22, 1963.
One of my heroes, Cal Ripken Jr. of the Baltimore Orioles, cried when he broke Lou Gehrig's long-standing record of game starts.
Hell, I choke up every time I hear the Gaudeamus Igitur passage of the Academic Festival Overture by Brahms. Or at the last scene in Field of Dreams.
Crying is as natural to men as it is to women. It's a human thing, something we all do and have done since infancy.
Why it is news lies just outside my realm of comprehension.