Do We Have to Watch It? No More Blubbering, Please
In a commercial, a Rod Serling clone wanders sidewise into the camera lens and asks, "Does a former drill sergeant make a terrible therapist?" And then some wimpy geek mumbles, "And that's why yellow makes me sad, I think."
That's when R. Lee Ermey, who plays a Marine drill sergeant in way too many TV programs, lets him have it. "You know what makes me sad?" he yells. "You do! Maybe we should chug on over to namby-pamby land, where maybe we could find some self-confidence for you, you jack wagon! ... Tissue?"
Ermey responds to the crybaby in the commercial with the same indignity I would have used if I'd interviewed John Boehner on "60 Minutes" a couple of Sundays ago. "Hey, John, pull yourself together. Eight trillion people are watching you blubber on their television sets! For God's sake, has anybody got a hanky?"
Before you whip out your poison pen - I can see you dipping it into the venom as I type - hear me out.
I don't object to a man crying. We all have reason to shed a genuine tear now and then. Friends and loved ones die - or worse, they betray us. We suffer emotional and financial setbacks on a regular basis. Our children disappoint, our wives and husbands run off to join the circus, our faithful dog expires, the world goes wrong in multitudinous ways. We're even inclined to cry at happy things - movies, paintings, music, books, graduations, weddings, births, etc.
I believe, too, that some people are simply prone to crying at the least provocation. Their tears are not contrived or devious or manipulative; their brains are reacting to stimuli. They can't help it. I say, let them cry; clean out those tear ducts. It does the rest of us good to observe an honest emotion once in a while.
And Lord knows, there have been a lot of tough guys who have cried their eyes out. Ulysses S. Grant sobbed after the Battle of the Wilderness - but it wasn't on a TV news program that was being watched by much of the planet. No, Grant sat down beneath a tree and wept all by his lonesome. He knew the majority of the soldiers in the Army of Potomac weren't watching their iPhones at that hour.
My reaction to Boehner's tears was much more basic. When he broke down on "60 Minutes," I couldn't help but ask myself: Am I going to have to watch this guy contort his face in excruciating agony and listen to him weep uncontrollably for the next two years?
If so, allow me the pleasure of tossing out my TV, radio and paper media as soon as possible. I just don't want to hear it. Or see it.
I have to admit that I have a similar knee-jerk reaction to Sarah Palin's voice.
I don't agree with most of what she espouses, even when I can figure out what she's saying, which isn't often. But I'm not bothered by that. There are lots of folks I don't agree with. What I dread is having to listen to Palin spew her nonsensical gobbledygook in that syrupy, fingernails-down-the-chalkboard Alaskan drawl - or whatever the hell you call the high-pitched, semi-literate warbling she emits. When Palin is talking on my TV, I wonder: Where the hell is Elvis when I need him to blast my cathode-ray tube?
And the same goes for Mitch McConnell, the enraged gerbil. He strikes me as a little too serious for his own good - and for ours. I don't even want to look at him.
So what I'm admitting to is unwarranted intolerance. Father, forgive me; I can't help myself. But I believe it's better to own up than to go through life secretly harboring prejudices that I'm incapable of overcoming.
It's a crying shame, but each of us answers for the face he wears.
Stephen Smith's most recent book, "A Short Report on the Fire at Woolworths," is available at The Country Bookshop. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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