Gone are the days when men (of certain nations, ie this one) were expected to react to sledgehammer blows to their emotional equilibrium by muttering “That’s too bad” and giving the dog a pat.
Yet the wheel of fashion has turned, and many of the sensations found in the “sadness” and “despair” families of feelings are now to be expressed with the shedding of a tear.
Professionals have decreed such forms of expression to be beneficial to the health.
And so at long last men can stop worrying whether their upper lip is appropriately stiff at times of emotional overstimulation, such as the playing of Abide with Me before the Cup Final or receiving the news that some zippy Californian entrepreneur has just made their entire industry obsolete.
Let the tears flow.
While a thorough sob looks a particularly desirable response to an increasing range of life’s vexations, to anyone unaccustomed to the practice, it’s not always easy to get the water over the threshold.
Fortunately, stock photo libraries are full of illustrations as to how to do it.
Or rather, not.
The theatrical wail
Remember – crying is not a performance. Giving vent to your feelings does not require all five acts of Hamlet. Most people may have come round to the idea of the tearful man, but agreements have yet to be reached on just how much innocent bystanders should be expected to put up with. This kind of attention grab could see you squander all sympathy in the first few bars.
The childish blub
Alternately, it’s possible to underplay your hand, and fall back on half-remembered reruns of how you felt when some big boys once threw your bag in a tree or you were denied access to your favourite programme for failing to demolish some vile plate of food. It seems unfair, but crying needs to be age-appropriate, and going for the lost little boy look will lead to accusations that you lack sincerity, and though it will go unspoken, the phrase “grow up”, will be foremost in the spectators’ minds.
The angry outburst
If people aren’t used to seeing you cry, it can be a slightly unnerving experience, and if you don’t get the physical cues quite right, the person you are crying to may think you are not so much sad as unstable, and back away. Straight-backed and square on is a little too confrontational, and watch that volume, tiger. Yes, you’re looking to draw attention to yourself but ideally from an audience of one, so if you turn every head in Westfields you need to dial it down a little next time.
It’s really important when crying to vary your intensity – a sob sounds much more authentic than a moan. And be careful with what you wear – the first thing most people will think on seeing a grown man in a suit and nasty tie mithering is “Good”. You’re trying to create the impression of someone who is genuinely overcome by their feelings, not a Sun journalist who has had too much to drink.