When humans cry

My friend Smacker Ramrod, the circus vet, once walked into my trailer with a sheepish look on his face.

“What would you say if I told you I’ve just seen a movie that made me cry?” he asked.

I would say that you were a snivelling ass,” I replied, “unless, perchance, the title of the movie was Lassie Come Home.”

It wasn’t. The film that had moved him to tears was called Ghost. I expect most of you have seen it. Patrick Swayze plays a dead man who tries to warn his widow that she is about to be seduced and swindled by his murderer. The evil one is thwarted, with the help of Whoopi Golderg, and carted off to the underworld by demons. The film ends with Mr Swayze bidding an emotional farewell to his wife before going to a better place. I freely admit it’s the sort of experience that would make a gorilla cry like a baby if it ever happened to him – or possibly even to his best friend. But watching actors simulate the whole thing produced no more than a rueful sigh in my own hairy bosom. I suspect that what prompted so many humans to weep was a “happy ending” in which a young widow remains well and truly widowed. Such is life.

I do of course sympathise with people crying to unburden their aching hearts. I must have seen at least a dozen adult humans weep in my circus days – on nearly every occasion it was a woman. I was quite happy to comfort these ladies with a hairy embrace if they stumbled in my direction, but in doing so I always observed the following rules:

(a) never ask the woman why she is crying;

(b) if she volunteers the information, reply only with monosyllabic murmurs of sympathy;

(c) never refer to the incident if you later cross the woman’s path.

I remember one young lady who after blubbering into my chest for five minutes looked up at me in apparent curiosity.

“Don’t you want to know why I’m crying?” she sniffed.

“I already know why,” I replied. “You are crying because you are overcome with emotion at a misfortune you have suffered. It happens to the best of us.”

For some reason she found this amusing, which encouraged me to send her on her way with a gentle pat, delivered a good four inches above her bottom.

Yet I must admit to confused feelings when movie stars cry in public. As they are said to express their emotions on film by reliving events in their lives, it makes me wonder whether they’re recalling past movie roles when they do it for real. Do you remember how Gwyneth Paltrow wept uncontrollably on accepting her Oscar? Rather than feeling any sympathy, I found myself judging her performance – almost good enough for a second gold statuette, I thought. I should add that I have nothing against Gwynnie as an actress or a woman. In naming her daughter “Apple”, she showed remarkably good taste for a human. Had she chosen the name “Apollonia”, I would have lampooned her as a pretentious bimbo.

I expect you want to know when I last cried. It happened quite recently, as a matter of fact, when my females jumped on me without warning and pinned me against a prickly bush. I’m not certain I was technically crying, come to think of it – but my eyes certainly watered a fair bit.
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