Hi, I’m back from our family trip to Missouri! It was great to relatively unplug for a few days and take a bit of a break from the internet. I ran around in the grass with the kids (well, Jackson ran while Joanie crawled… though she is getting pretty close to her first steps, I think, eeee), swam in my parents’ community pool (which we had all to ourselves all week), ate Andy’s frozen custard, paid like seven bucks for a six-pack at the gas station (which is about five bucks cheaper than it would cost at a bodega in Brooklyn), won two dollars on a scratch-off lottery ticket at said gas station, jogged three times through a wooded trail in my parents’ neighborhood, got in a car and drove from point A to point B every day like how people who don’t live in NYC do all the time, and just generally enjoyed a change of pace. And now I’m catching up on emails and sifting through potential letters for next week’s columns (oh, I’d love an update or two — Hint hint!).
In the meantime, I’ve got a discussion topic for the day: crying in public. I’m sort of a fan of crying in public, but I’m particular about the when and the where. Subway and airport crying is my favorite because, by nature, they’re transient locations and you can easily feel anonymous, knowing you are unlikely to see anyone you know or run into any of these strangers again. Also, there are so many valid reasons to be crying at the airport or even the subway that tears don’t generally raise too many eyebrows. Crying in restaurants is much less comfortable (for me anyway). There are very few good reasons to cry in a restaurant. Unless you’re crying happy tears over some surprise good news or maybe someone just proposed to you and you’re all verklempt, then there’s probably a terribly sad reason for the tears.
The last time I cried in public was in a restaurant, actually. It was last week before we left for Missouri, and I was having dinner with a friend who is going through a pretty awful time and, as a result, has to move in a couple weeks. We chose a brand new neighborhood restaurant that had just opened the day before and we had an incredible meal, but the circumstances being what they are made for some bittersweet dinner conversation and, by the end of the meal, my friend and I were both weeping over our grilled scallops. We quickly paid our check and hightailed it out of there so as not to draw more attention to ourselves, but on the way out I passed an acquaintance waiting for a table and felt silly when he noticed me wiping my tears. “The food is delicious!” I said as he looked at me quizzically.
As far as restaurant crying goes, though, that was a pretty mild case. I’ve had much more pitiful and draining experiences, usually involving a guy and a broken heart. Still, I’ll take restaurant crying any day over crying in a public bathroom, which has to be the worst on the scale of most depressing places to be caught crying. Have you ever seen someone crying in a public bathroom? Do you acknowledge the person? Not acknowledge her (or him)? It’s hard to know what the best course of action is. Rather than ask if the person’s ok (because, obviously, no she’s not), I usually ask if she needs any help. A couple of times when I’ve cried on the subway, for reasons I don’t even remember now, people have asked if I needed help and that simple inquiry restored a little faith in humanity. We’re not alone. We’re seen (even if we’d prefer not to be). Someone cares.
When was the last time you cried in public? What do you do if you see someone else crying in public?
Illustration by Nigel Van Wieck