Maybe you'll relate to this:
When I was young I probably cried about once a year. When I was in my twenties I cried maybe once a month. In my 30s, something made me cry once a week. Now in my 40s it's the rare day that goes by when I don't read, hear or watch something that mists me up.
This is nothing to brag about. What it means is that, increasingly, I refuse to see the world as it is, and instead, see it as a little shake-up snow globe of my own emotional invention.
It's a sign of self-absorption, which increases with each year we spend in our own heads, drinking too often and thinking too seldom, reading less and worrying more and counting the years we have left to stay solvent and keep out of jail and earn our kids' admiration at our deathbed.
At least, that's how I saw the tears of a blubbering mayor of Bolinbrook, Ill. a few years ago, and wrote in Chicago Magazine:
Roger Claar has been crying, on and off. The 61-year-old Republican has spent most of a day and part of an evening telling a reporter his life story: His largely unhappy childhood in Effingham, growing up "a shy, chubby kid in a crewcut with hand-me-down clothes" in what he describes as a "dysfunctional" family with four kids and a mother who "didn't support" him. His journey to Kansas State University in 1971 to get a Ph.D. ("For a fat little kid from Effingham, that was a bold move," he says.)
His early career as a school administrator, which led him to take a job near Bolingbrook. His rise from village trustee to mayor, first elected in 1986. His side of the scandals that have dogged him along the way. His political relationships with Republican governors Jim Edgar and George Ryan, which led to a seat on the board of the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority, where he helped make Bolingbrook the thriving suburban crossroads it is today. And his secrets for bringing in the commerce and housing development that put Bolingbrook on the map.
Almost all these subjects make him emotional.
They make him emotional, because he has, in his moistened mind, organized the entire world into a sentimental feel-good movie starring himself. As we all do, to some extent. But again, not to our credit.
All of which brings us to John Boehner, who seems like an especially acute case. He cannot utter the words "chasing the American dream" without gurgling like a Bunn-O-Matic as he thinks about his own rotten childhood. And don't get him started on childhood.
"I can't go to a school anymore," he confessed Leslie Stahl on "60 Minutes" through spasmatic sobs. "I used to go to a lot of schools. And you see all these little kids running around. Can't talk about it. … Making sure that these kids have a shot at the American dream. Like I did. It's important."
(And then there's the aging Stahl, who indicated in a separate interview that she thinks it's neat when men give themselves permission to cry. I presume she also pats herself on the back when, as a woman, she endures a surprise without fainting.)
Crying is not a virtue, in men or in women. It's not exactly a vice either, of course. But you do have to worry about being governed by someone whose view of the world is so subjective, and so sentimental that he cannot see children, whose future is important—without going all to pieces.
Yes, John Boehner can feel.
But can he still think?
Paul Engleman says
Oh, man, you hit the Boehner right on the pecker. But are you sure this crying stuff is sincere? For some of them, I think it’s sociopathic — a tactic to reveal their sensitivity, to trick the gullible Leslie Stahls of this wonderful world.
David Murray says
Watch the video, Paul. His face goes into a spasm. His cheeks quiver, his chin begins to vibrate and his tongue behaves like a catfish trying to avoid the net. If he’s faking it, he ought to stop.
james green says
I have spent way too much time today in self-reflection over a piece that you wrote about John Boehner and I don’t even share his politics. You see I am also a cryer and always have been. I always thought that I was simply too sensitive, but now I know that it’s a sign of my self absorption while I worry and count the years I have to stay solvent, keep out of jail and earn my kids’ admiration on my deathbed.
Thank God I can still think.
David Murray says
I love Orange Julius. And by love, I mean, holy shit is that guy the most unintentionally hilarious person on the planet.
Where does the modern Republican party find these people?