The art of ugly crying


When Catha, Amy and I decided to see The Fault in Our Stars on its opening weekend, we knew what to expect because we all read the book. Amy brought several folded Kleenex in her purse. I brought a baggie of Tootsie Rolls in mine. I knew I would probably cry a little, but that’s what my sleeve is for, right? I thought I would dab a tear here and sniff a bit there. No big deal. I knew what was coming.

What I didn’t expect was the flood of snotty nosed, hiccuping, gasping, full on ugly crying. In fact, it was one step beyond ugly crying because I was trying to hold the ugly crying together which, as everyone knows, makes ugly crying almost unbearable to witness. Thank goodness I was in a darkened theater. (And a lot of good those Tootsie Roll wrappers did me in the blowing my nose department.)

Then, the ugly crying suddenly switched to giggling and I had to hold THAT down in the depths of my soul. My conscience scolded me, wagging her finger, demanding that I PULL IT TOGETHER. This is a somber moment! DON’T LAUGH, YOU HEARTLESS JACK WAGON!

I’m not one to laugh when things are sad. In fact, if you cry, I guarantee that I will cry right along with you. The reason I had to hold in my giggles is because at the precise moment I was trying to suppress the gut-wrenching sobs, I heard no less than 90% of the audience trying to do the same thing! Including my friends to my right and my left. Catha was regular crying. Amy was nervously balling up her tear-soaked Kleenex, trying to save one of the tissues she had left because there was at least 30 minutes remaining. The high school girls behind us were grunting, quietly sobbing and murmuring sentiments under their breath.

To quote the lead character Hazel Grace, “We’re a hot mess.”

After the movie, we filed into the bathroom. And by “we” I mean ALL of us in theater six. There were puffy eyes, red noses, emotional exhaustion and one lady holding an entire box of Kleenex. She was clearly the smartest one of us all. Amy and Catha both agreed that they hadn’t cried that much since Steel Magnolias.

Ah yes. That is what we do. We come together to cry, laugh and cry again over poignant dialog and lost love. Just as the men in our lives flock to see Spartans rip each other to shreds with swords, women flock to have their emotions ripped to shreds by the words of a young adult novel screenplay.

As the credits rolled and I sat in snotty silence, two things remained:

1. I will always root for true love.
2. Cancer sucks.

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