I’ve been told that there’s something wrong with me. Nothing serious, but that I’m “so sick!” And why on earth would a dearie like me be castigated in such a fashion?
Well, simply because behind the unbreachable barrier of a television screen, I kept egging Andrew Murray two Sundays ago to “Cry more! Cry more, boy!” while he was choking on the microphone that he was given after being defeated by Roger Federer (the Federest!) at the Wimbledon final.
Everyone seems to have come to the consensus that bawling in public is nothing that a grown man should be ashamed of. In these times of equal opportunities, being one with your inner self and other assorted claptrap, I can understand that. If we don’t find anything tremendously awkward about making women cry — although I must admit, I can never quite picture the German Chancellor sobbing away at the thought of the break-up of the euro — why, in circa 2012, should we find a 25-year-old Scotsman from the tough town of Glasgow sobbing before millions of people such an object of gender-specific curiosity?
Well, call me 20th century, but men aren’t supposed to cry. It busts the myth about us being emotionally more dependable at key moments like when the child is sauntering off to college — or running away with someone whom you wouldn’t trust your accountant with. Men not supposed to cry is a bit like the way drivers aren’t supposed to drive too fast and grandmas aren’t supposed to go on blind dates.
Men, so goes the custom, should at least not weep in public and certainly not the choking, shoulders-shaking variety in which tears from the eyes and nose have to be dried by the notorious sleeve-wipe. Sobbing quietly on the sofa after the wife has left food in the fridge before leaving you altogether is acceptable. Wailing in public is unacceptable — unless you’re Michael Corleone and your daughter has been shot by mistake by a rival mafia family on the steps of the opera house. Then too, letting out an interminable howl before covering one’s face in sorrow is the preferred mode of showing grief.
But even before the advent of the Snag — that’s the Sensitive New Age Guy — who sometimes gets all emotional at the thought of not being able to cry after watching a beautiful sunset, or on encountering a perfect omelette, or after witnessing a ravishing sporting moment that will never be repeated except on hi-def slo-mo replays, being ‘emo’ was never prohibited for men. The great warrior Achilles in the Iliad would weep at the drop of a hat, which he would make up by slaughtering a few dozen Trojans every day.
But smacking people or exploding into a rage or chanting anthemic swear words or hurling objects such as unattended kids were the usual routes of emoting negatively that were acceptable in society. Tears were something that came out only when you hammered your thumb by mistake or after you chomped on a green chilli just to impress a girl or while at an Occupy Wall Street demonstration while it was being broken up by the police.
With Snags not only being acceptable but, I’m told, preferable these days by the ladies, I’d rather see a grown man weep after being defeated by the World No 1 — Roger being a generous tears-of-joy weeper himself — than a man choking and pounding his chest while watching the 42nd anniversary special DVD of Love Story.
There are some PR benefits too. As Federer pointed out with Jack Welch clarity, “When you cry, you communicate with fans. I think they appreciate the fact that we care about winning and losing, we care about what they feel.”
Pity, those blokes at Lehman Brothers never got the opportunity to show how they actually cared for their clients. Which is why I, forever denied a quivering lower lip and anything beyond moisture in the corner of my eyes, so enjoyed that Scottish lad weep and choke on centre court. It so made me want to sob.
(Indrajit Hazra is a