For much of my adolescent years I resided in a trailer park with a “Dallas” theme—the soap opera, not the state. We lived on J.R. Drive and the streets surrounding ours were: Knot’s Landing, Ewing Drive and Cattleman’s Circle. The south embraces themes, y’all.
Seriously though, I would give anything to have been at the planning meeting for this small mobile home development:
Jim Bob: “Hey, what should we name it?”
Bubba: “Myrna, can you turn down that confound it TV!”
Myrna: “Hush! I’m watchin’ my soaps!”
Jim Bob and Bubba in unison: “Let’s name it Dallas Acres!”
In middle school, my parents divorced and I had a “hard time” attending school regularly due to psychosomatic symptoms, but after a while, I stopped feeling sad and mostly faked it so I could keep up with my addictive soaps. The character’s lives were incomprehensibly crazier than mine and watching them was a guilty escape.
I felt terrible when due to my excessive absenteeism, our white-haired assistant principal invited my overwhelmed single-mother (in school and working three part-time jobs) in for a meeting. My mom put up her mama bear fists and verbally duked it out in my behalf (She’s going through a hard time. Her family just broke apart, you know! She’s just a kid!) and afterward she protectively put her arm around me as we walked down the linoleum-floored hallway and I put my arm around her waist and said, “Thanks, Mom.”
I should have said, “Mom, I’m a General Hospital junkie. It’s Billy Bob and Bubba’s fault!” But I didn’t tell her until I was safely in my mid-twenties and no longer needed her to launder my clothes and provide daily sustenance.
The good news, dear reader, is that my dedication to observing soap operas blossomed into researching the different types of criers. They are as follows: Pretty criers (my ultimate dream), Scrunchers, Heavers and Hingers.
While doing my research in middle school, I envied the actresses not for their year-round tans, perfect hair and great wardrobe, but for the talent to easily tear up at a moment’s notice.
Their tears would bud and just pool there, swirling and shimmering, until they gently and softly streamed down their cheeks in an unbroken line forming clear ribbons that unraveled at the chin. Their make-up never glopped or ran because they were the Pretty Criers.
I am, at my lowest points, a Heaver. I think this one pretty much explains itself in the nomenclature. When I cry—and I mean reeaally let it aaalll out—speaking comes in loud gooey staccato bursts of incomprehensible blathering about feelings and such. My husband stands there frozen in his tracks as I suck in more air than a Boeing 747 engine. My tears decide to jump out everywhichaway (taking all my makeup with it) like kindergarteners on the first day of school: no order, no direction just wild energy bursting down my face.
Scrunchers are like inadequate substitute teachers to the kindergarten crowd. They try to ignore, contain and threaten, but they always make the critical error of locking the school door from the inside at 3pm on Jun 5th, turning around and seeing 287 children lunging at them. Quoting Star Trek: “Resistance is futile”. But they try anyway—letting a few tears squeeze through like air out the butt-end of a balloon being stretched taut. Definitely not pretty.
My all-time favorite way to observe crying is often performed by 2-3 year olds. It’s still possible to see it portrayed in older individuals, but the toddler crowd definitely has an inborn natural flair for this performance art. Hinging must be sudden and violently loud. Usually, the eyes bulge followed by an almost imperceptible sound of the jaw disengaging allowing it to flip 180 degrees so the chin is now full north. It’s akin to watching a snake eating a full-grown water buffalo on the Discovery Channel.
If this hinging banshee is under 3, I advise using the opportunity to throw anything you desire down their gullet: salmon, whole heads of spinach, vitamins—Brussel sprouts even! I like to have a jar full in every room, to grab at a moment’s notice. This is why my children’s hair is so thick and long by age four.
There are many more types of crying we may discuss at a later date: mad criers (most embarrassing), sniffly criers, silent criers, laughing criers…but these are by far the ones that stand out.
And to the assistant principal (who’s most likely dead) against all odds, I miraculously turned out to be a contributing (yet slightly odd) member of society. With the aid of family who did the best they could alongside teachers and mentors, I kicked the educationally-stunting habit just in time and managed to graduate from high school and college.
For the record, if you ever need an experienced world traveler to assist in naming streets in your new housing development, I’m your girl.