Dry Your Eyes, Mate
ELLIE PITHERS on why crying men should stay in the cupboard.
I love crying. Drunk, sober, stressed, tired, happy, sad – my tears know no bounds. Once I even cried so forcefully in the corner shop opposite my college (fondly known as Magi-Magi), that the shop keeper actually brought me a whole box of tissues and a cup of tea as I sat slumped against a huge sack of lentils in aisle three. Forty-five minutes later, as I finally handed over my soggy fiver to purchase a pot of pesto, I experienced a bona fide golden nugget of Disney magic. The shopkeeper handed over my change with the following immortal words: “Girl, nothing is worth all the tears. You calm down, you take a break, you be fine.” He was the grandmother willow to my angsty Pocahontas; a talking tree of Wisdom and Truth.
It’s not just me though; John Terry cries every bloody time Chelsea lose. That said, if anyone’s got a right to lamentation at the moment, it’s him, but still. It is deemed completely normal for fully grown men to cry when they lose football matches, especially if they lose on penalties. Christiano Ronaldo is probably my favourite of the footbawlers, because he genuinely looks absolutely minging when he weeps. None of that Hollywood crap for Christy – he fully immerses himself in the torment of his loss, sporting a puffy, itchy face and letting his eyeliner get all smudged.
It seems the footbawlers are no longer alone in the tear tables, however; this is a nation-wide phenomenon. The stiff upper lip is deteriorating. And no amount of Botox is going to restore it to its former rigidity.
In a country where the suppression of emotion used to be the status quo, it is now socially acceptable for men to cry. In the good old days of inflexibility, any real man who shed even so much as a globule from the corner of his eye would be labelled a big girl’s blouse and sent away for a spell in the Parachute Regiment. Alas, these days, a tear is a sign of humanity.
You know the tide has really turned when the Prime Minister has something in common with Peter Andre. Both men have cried on live television in the past month. We can easily dismiss Peter as a great big celebrity sissy, crying on Sky TV in the name of yet another OK! Exclusive (This week: a lonesome bath-time for Peter and the Kids, bereft of their mother, with only a photo above the sink to remember her by), but can we say the same for the Prime Minister?
I thought Gordon Brown was a Disney-free zone. No photo opportunities for him, smiling with the kiddies, holding hands with Minnie and Mickey, little bluebirds circling round his head and choirs of cherubim and seraphim singing Rule Britannia as he poses for summer holiday snaps in front of hordes of paparazzi. No photos of Gordon’s children have ever appeared in the press, nor has he ever really spoken about the death of his baby daughter Jennifer in 2002. I won’t begrudge Gordo tears about a clearly very painful subject, and I admit that he doesn’t parade his family around like DaveCam, who smacked his wife on the front of Harper’s Bazaar ‘at home with the children’. But I always thought that Gordon’s was the stiffest lip of them all (even if it is almost always curled in angry defiance). With Brown crying on TV, the crossover between X Factor and Reality has been confirmed.
Our lives are now literal sob stories – not that that’s always a bad thing. I’m all for men being more open about their emotions, allowing that stiff upper lip to become just a little bit saggy. But whilst it’s ok for me to cry when I lose my phone in Fez, and then to cry once again, overcome with joy, when a small Polish man at the side of the dance floor leers at me and reunites me with my Sony Ericsson, it’s definitely not ok for my male posse to join in. I like a man with feelings, but there are limits to my zeal for weeping.
So hear this, men of England: your tears are not a political coup/flirting technique. They are simply a crying shame. So grow up, pack away those rainbows and butterflies, and get down to some cement-mixing.