Thu | Nov 15, 2018

As a man: Oh what a whelping

Published:Sunday | March 13, 2016 | 12:00 AMMelville Cooke

To see a big man cry can be a terrible thing. It does something to you - not least of all because it contradicts all deeply ingrained notions of what a man should be - strong (which includes being stoic is all situations), able to handle all that life throws at him and certainly never, ever breaking down like a "big gyal".

Still, I get the impression that quite a few women would not mind seeing their man cry. Not having a regular, public weeping and wailing session, but in the privacy of their bedroom, in the comfort of her arms, to cuddle and shed tears upon her flesh. It may be a need for a deep emotional connection, which necessitates emotional vulnerability. So if a man can cry in his woman's arms, he can love her that much more intensely. Or it may be that for just once in her life, she wants to see a man who is not like a stone wall in all situations, no matter how she knows he must be hurting.

However, we see men crying all the while in public and don't recognise what we are witnessing. As a man, I know what is happening, even when I do not see tears. Especially when I do not see tears, actually, because I never do. So we are not talking about the physical act of leaking water down the cheeks, but expressing emotional hurt. There are many other signs, I am sure, which especially those who are close to the particular man will be able to identify. And the ones which I have come up with are by no means conclusive, or even specific to men mourning.

They are easily confused with other things.

1. Excessive exercise at odd times of the day. If the man is not some sort of professional or semi-professional athlete, then jogging out on Palisadoes Road or walking the Mountain Spring route at 4 a.m., 10 p.m., or around lunchtime, is a sure sign that something is amiss emotionally. This is especially so if he is doing it alone. See that sweat? It is a substitute for tears.

2. Going to after-work jams every Friday. Chances are everyone will need to get rid of the work week every now and then, before heading home and into the weekend. However, going to the happy hour get-together week after week is an indication of drowning sorrows, pouring fire water on the pool of liquid inside that is threatening to break the dam.

3. The clown with no comic timing. He keeps on giving jokes that fall flat, ends up the only one laughing, yet picks it up, brushes it off and starts all over again. That is a man who is having a good cry every time he drops a line.

4. He can't stand to be alone. To be alone does not mean to be solitary. To be unable to be alone indicates an unwillingness to face oneself. A man who seeks out company with relentless ferocity is often looking for a shoulder to cry on - without the owner of the shoulder realising that is what it is being used for.

There are many more, but suffice to say, as a man, I see men mourning and weeping regularly, without a hint of tears.