Thursday, February 9, 2006


I've always been easily moved to tears. Even before the surgery I cried over the Iraq War at least three times per week.

Literature and food make me cry. I've bawled over my Jane Austin. Tears are conjured by Lorca's poesy and Whitman's exuberance. Last week my daughter Ella (the chef) fixed me a risotto con fungi al porcini, and I wept expansively when she set it on the table. I slobbered like my childhood basset hound, and then redoubled my crying when I remembered that animal with fondness.

Over the years, folks have equated crying in men with, at turns, cowardice, girlishness and insanity. But I'll let all those macho red meat males sucking back their tears know that crying has gotten me laid on at least four separate occasions. Remember, too, that I weighed in at 255 lbs before my surgery, very little of that muscle.

But a reader reminds me that depression, what I call the black ass, is especially acute after quad bypass surgery. I'm not sure if this is the reason for my recent upsurge in crying, but tonight I finished a chapter of my new novel and was so moved (we writers do love ourselves on occasion, don't we?) that I went out onto the patio of my flat in my underwear and wept until my skin was stippled with gooseflesh. It is winter after all. Two coeds walking by on the dark sidewalk asked, "Are you okay, sir?" with genuine concern. The old farts who say our younger generation is soulless are bitter and stupid.

In any event, I'm a bit worried by the sheer volume of tears I'm able to produce. Visiting a friend, a young assistant professor in the Philosophy Dept., I sat on his couch with his three-year-old daughter on my lap watching her favorite film, "A Bug's Life." I cried like a baby when the animated ants vanquished the brutish grasshoppers. The child reached up and touched my beard, saying, "That's okay, Mister Trout, it's only a movie." I kissed both her cheeks and forehead, chuckling new tears of joy.

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