August 25, 2014

Crying Over Books

Do you cry when you read books? I'm terrible about it--a description of a character dying will always elicit at least some sniffles from me, and usually worse. It's one thing when I'm at home, alone, and can look like a fool in private. But several years ago, I finished Cold Mountain while riding the T in Boston and was such a blubbering wreck that strangers were eyeing me like I was unstable and were moving as far away from me as possible--despite the fact that it was rush hour and we were packed in like sardines. There's always one weirdo on every subway car, and that day the weirdo was me. Since then I've been very selective about what I read in public.
Warning: this is super sad.

So on Saturday morning I took my car to the dealer for a routine service appointment, and brought a book with me--a novel I first read many, many years ago, and in which, toward the end, one of the most likable characters in the story dies. I thought I'd have only enough time to read a chapter or two, and wouldn't get that far into the book, but the service department was packed and running behind and I ended up stuck there for three hours. With nothing to do but read my book.

And I got to the part of the story where the character dies, and the description of his sickness and passing and the funeral and the main character dealing with it goes on for pages and pages and pages. I thought I'd done a good job masking it and keeping myself to merely sniveling ("Think about something funny! Imagine everybody else in the room naked!"). But after my car was done and I was pulling out of the parking lot, I caught sight of myself in the rear-view mirror and I had total raccoon eyes from my wet mascara rubbing off. Oh yeah, real discreet.

I'm also guilty at crying over movies, especially when a dog dies. In first grade we had to watch Where the Red Fern Grows and my breakdown was so extreme that my teacher had to send me to the nurse's office and have the nurse call my mother. I'd like to blame it on the fact that I was only seven, but I suspect if I watched it again now as an adult, I'd still have the same reaction. The same would be true if I were ever forced to re-watch Dumbo or Bambi. Does this make me sensitive and emotionally intelligent, or just a freak?

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