When I was a kid, I cried freely (and I mean, freely) at three episodes of “Family Matters.” In one of the episodes, a mysterious man claiming to be an old friend of Carl’s comes to visit the family. Carl keeps pretending he knows who this man is but really doesn’t, and finally gets it out of him that he’s Harriet and Rachel’s long lost father. A man they presumed dead. So you can imagine why that might have affected my childhood self. As they all sobbed onscreen, I sat alone in front of the TV in my mom’s art school classroom. I clung to my two-year-old Samoyed, watching my tears drip onto her silky, white fur.
In another episode, Urkel admits that although he pines for and sexually harasses (I mean, let’s be real here) Laura every day of her life, he does know that he has no chance with her. This is years before the show got stupid and they had their strange relationship because he turned hot, or something like that. Anyway, he said, and I quote pretty much verbatim:
“Loving you, Laura, is like trying to touch a star. You know you’ll never reach it but you have to keep trying.”
Bam! I didn’t even look that up. Tears, streaming down my face. Not now but then.
In the third episode, Laura confronts racism for perhaps the first time in her life. I believe someone spray paints something horrific on her locker. She is traumatized by this and Grandma Winslow tells a beautiful story about not being allowed into her public library and standing up for herself every day of her life. Serious tears there. It was beautiful.
And then, years later, there is an episode of “Futurama” that I have tested myself with and seen about five times. Each time, there have been streaming tears. I’m telling you. “Jurassic Bark,” it’s called. I’m telling you. You can YouTube the ending but you need the whole background. Watch it, I dare you.
I get choked up thinking about it.
Mostly this doesn’t happen. Mostly a movie or TV show is somewhat forgettable the instant you walk out of the theater to your car, or the instant you turn off your TV and go make a sandwich. Mostly if something does affect me, it’s to disturb me, and in those cases and especially while anxious or sick or pregnant, I won’t even watch something that “might” disturb me and I stick to silly, predictable crap. Mostly when I am brave and I am moved (not disturbed) by a movie or TV show, it’s just that nose sting you get when tears start to come and want to come, but never really go anywhere. That’s about as far as I can get, mostly. It stops with a nose sting – enough to make me feel human but not enough to make me express it more.
When I was pregnant with Scarlet, I cried during the first few minutes of Up. But not like..sobbing or anything. Just tears.
When I was in high school, tears flowed freely from Marvin’s Room.
Nose stings, or at the most, tears. Sobs? No. Except for three times, ever:
1. It’s a Wonderful Life. It would make anyone cry. My parents didn’t have a lot of money and I believe the story is that it was on TV and my father taped it on VHS to give to my mom. I’m not sure if he ever gave it to her or if she found it hidden and waiting for her, after he had died. I may be confusing it with a game of Trivial Pursuit he had hidden for her. I never watched the movie myself and I’m not sure my mom could watch it either, for years. In high school, we decided to be brave and watch it together but we couldn’t find it. Anywhere. After awhile my mom gave up but you could tell she was really down, thinking it lost forever. So I vowed to find it, whatever it took. I eventually did and held it behind my back, hiding a smile as I walked into her art closet. We watched it together and the combination of the movie itself, the story about my father, and thinking the tape lost made me sit on the couch and sob by myself for about twenty minutes after it was over.
2. Life is Beautiful. Well, gosh. I’m not made of stone. Holy crap. What a film. What human spirit.
3. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. I started this weeks ago when Cassidy was in NYC but never finished it until the other night. Umm..wow. I was destroyed. Wrecked. I had to go sob into a towel so as not to wake up Scarlet. Every single minute of the last twenty minutes or so. So hard to watch and imagine, so deep. Not for the faint of heart. I’m kinda faint of heart so I include myself there.
What is it that makes movies or shows affect us in different ways? Sure, timing and pregnancy hormones are factors. Projection, mood changes, life changes, whatever. Even through all of that, it’s hard to hit me. Benjamin Button hit me hard.
Sometimes you can’t fight the nose stings and even the tears. Sometimes you need the sobs.
What’s made you sob, if anything? What’s hit you hard?