Tara Kaprowy

I was of course listening to Christmas carols in the car the other day when I was moved to tears while listening to “The Little Drummer Boy.” It was about 6 p.m. and I was driving and singing, proving once again that the only lyrics I know are the pa-rum-pum-pum-pums.

Then it came to the lines:

“I played my drum for Him, pa rum pum pum pum,

I played my best for Him, pa rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum.”

The “best” is what struck me. The word sounded exactly like something a child would use. Then I thought of the tiny little drummer boy, who I always imagine is malnourished, trying so hard to impress the baby and his parents. And about all the onlookers thinking he was sweet but still poor and pathetic. Then I imagined it was my little brother or my quasi-stepdaughter Gabrielle desperately drumming.

And then, suddenly, I felt that familiar feeling of my nostrils getting that uncomfortable itch and my eyes filling.

So there I was crying. To something not even sad. Again.

It is, I have to say, the story of my life.

For I am a crier. And there are few occasions I don’t anoint.

I cry when I watch the Olympics, marching bands and dance recitals. I get teary during the singing of the national anthem, if I smell perfume that my mom wears or when my dad sends me a note and I try to decipher his exceptionally bad handwriting. I cry at De Beers commercials and during any type of wedding proposal. I have wailed — almost beyond consolation — during the following movies: “The Notebook,” “Beaches,” “Philadelphia,” “Awakenings” and “Terms of Endearment.”

And if I’ve interviewed you, especially for a feature story, you’ve likely seen me blink away tears at some time or another — though it’s probable what you’ve said or done is not particularly sad.

I also cry in the face of authority. I have been stopped for speeding before and burst into tears when explaining I was lost and trying to find the Interstate. I have silently sobbed while I was trying to get out of a parking ticket. And if any kind of immigration officer gives me a hard time at the border, I’m done for.

While I often get teary, I am not an attractive crier. It just takes about four dropped tears for my face to get blotchy, with a specific hive developing on the side of my nose and one on my temple. My eyes also get very red and my nose, which almost seems to swell, drips. These symptoms are very persistent, with my face in recovery for a good half hour post-deluge.

All of this crying, I’m telling you, is something I would prefer not doing (though, umm, I did get off that speeding ticket). For one thing, it’s embarrassing. No one wants a sissy on their hands. And that’s exactly what you are when you’re talking and your chin starts that ugly quivering. That quiver is interesting in that it is not only embarrassing to the crier but it’s also embarrassing to the witness. They just want you to stop and so do you.

Second, it’s stressful. I had to work myself up for weeks to be able to do the speech at my parents’ wedding a few months ago. My goal was to simply get through without letting my voice quaver. I almost made it. I was about halfway through when I had to stop and take a breather, but then everyone started clapping to help me along. The fact that everyone was being so thoughtful and nice and encouraging ... Great, now I’m crying at the memory.

So, what to do? I’ve tried valiantly to stop but, it seems, stoicism just doesn’t run in my blood.

I guess I could look at the advantages of my tears. First, I always have Kleenex. Second, my tear ducts are in good working order. And third, I can’t be accused of facing life with indifference.

Staff writer Tara Kaprowy can be reached by e-mail at tkaprowy@sentinel-echo.com.

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