Mr. (Over) Sensitivity

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESTo the people who might consider me annoyingly cheerful, seemingly upbeat and positive all of the time, I offer the following rebuttal: What goes up must come down.

I will break from the man code and admit it out loud… I am a grown man who has the ability to cry.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not the type who cries at the drop of a hat at the sight of rainbows, puppies or kittens. Nor do I fall to pieces and burst into tears at times when I am nervous or stressed. The fact is that I am pretty solid most of the time. However, by most peoples’ standards I am weird when it comes to when and where tears might happen.

The best part is that with the exception of #7, these are not very serious situations, so the tears are often accompanied with laughter given how my remote control button for tears comes on at the strangest and sometimes funniest times.

Either way, a pattern seems to have emerged and interestingly enough, most have a connection to music. Here they are, the top 10 tearjerker moments for me:

10) The Movie “Pretty Woman”
I saw it in the theatre three times and if I remember correctly, I teared up all three times. I am a sucker for a happy ending.

9) Glee Season 2, Episode 8 “Furt”
This is the episode when Finn, the character played by Corey Monteith, comes to terms with the fact that he was not there for his stepbrother Kurt, played by Chris Colfer, when he was tormented by a bully. Upon this realization, at their parents’ wedding, he breaks out into song with the Bruno Mars tune “Just The Way You Are”. Needless to say, it struck a chord… Tears-a-plenty!… for several viewings.

8) The Broadway play, “A Trip To Bountiful”
In 2013, I had the greatest pleasure of seeing Cicely Tyson, Cuba Gooding Jr, Vanessa Williams, Condola Rashad and Tom Wopat in a brilliant performance about an elderly woman’s determination to return to her home one last time, and the lives she touched in the process. Throughout the play, the character played by Miss Tyson just pulled at my heartstrings, reminding me of my own maternal grandmother in so many ways that when the play ended, I cried… and cried and cried and cried for a good 15 minutes after the show ended. I vividly recall walking through Times Square, with sunglasses on, sniffling all the way and my partner just smiling and shaking his head. He gets me.

7) Funerals
While this is not a huge surprise, the thing is that the tears don’t generally flow out of sadness. In fact, I am generally able to hold it together pretty well, so much so that I have been asked to deliver a number of readings at funerals. What will set off the tears is one of two things: 1) the realization of the number of people who came out in support, a sight which I sometimes find overpowering or 2) other people’s crying, which is like a remote control to my empathetic system.

6) The music video: “The Thin Red Line” by Glass Tiger
I was enamoured by this great video the moment it hit the airwaves in 1986. The band members and songwriters, Alan Frew, Sam Reid, Al Connelly, Wayne Parker and Michael Hanson masterfully provide viewers with a 5 minute Scottish history lesson on the Battle of Balaclava in the Crimean war of 1854. I don’t know if it is the combination of instruments playing the melody, the stunning cinematography, the resonance of the storyline, maybe a bit of everything, but it definitely struck a nerve and elicited tears of joy and deep admiration (for several viewings) for this Canadian musical masterpiece.

5) “One Sweet Day” by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men
Released on November 14, 1995, “One Sweet Day” was a song that was a tribute to those who had left us far too early, including those who lost their battle with AIDS. The combination of the sweet melody, gut wrenching lyrics and brilliant harmonies easily made this a three-handkerchief moment for me throughout its first month of release. If it came on while I was driving, I had to change the channel as I knew the deep emotional reaction it would elicit.

4) “Fare Thee Well Love” by the Rankin Family
The meticulous arrangement of this song gets me time and time again. The song begins so softly and simply and gradually, more layers of vocals and instrumentation are added layer by layer. By the time of the second chorus, for some reason the harmonies of “In paupers glory” are to me the crescendo and the turning point that has me reaching for the tissue box for the rest of the song.

3) I don’t wanna leave Sweden
My third trip to Sweden in March 2009 to take in the Melodifestivalen festivities concluded with a very teary morning of packing. The way that Swedish culture resonates with me is something that could fill a book on its own and the fact that by 2009 I was speaking the language fluently and feeling very much at home in Stockholm was a new reality and a dream come true. Also, without really knowing it, my first visit in 2005 heralded a period of immense personal change, and my 2009 visit was the moment of hindsight reflecting on the progress I had made and how my life was much better for it. Alanis had “Thank you India”, I have “Thank you Sweden”.

2) “All Through the Night” by Cyndi Lauper
While I am pretty sure most people might express a stronger emotional attraction to Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colours” or “Time After Time”, my preference always leaned toward “All Through The Night” from Cyndi’s debut album “She’s So Unusual”. Around Easter I caught a nasty case of the shingles and was stuck in the house for a number of weeks, with the exception of a Cyndi Lauper and Cher concert.. there was no way I was going to miss that! The combination of the illness and the meds I was taking had my emotions running much closer to the surface. When this song came on, I don’t think I made it past the chorus that I was already sniffling and had huge tears running down my face. I knew the song elicited a strong reaction but this was off the charts. My partner just looked over, smiled and gently shook his head, knowing full well I was having “a moment”. He gets me.

1) Movie: “Grease” (1978)
Yes, the movie Grease! Again, a sucker for a happy ending, I have to get the tissue box ready to watch this movie. What gets me choked up is the scene at the end when Rydell High’s school yard is turned into an amusement park. Consistently, I start getting glassy eyed at the instrumental part in the middle of the musical number “We Go Together”… and then it turns into full waterworks by the end of the song. Whether it is the very upbeat tune itself, the choreography, the way the camera captured it, or the way in which it echoes my own attachment to my high school friends and the good times we had, it still gets me EVERY time almost three decades later.


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Have a great day,

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