The Perfect Cry

As I sit here, surrounded by used Kleenix, sniffling obnoxiously while mourning the loss of Michael Gary Scott on the American Office, it’s only fair that I share with you my secrets to a successful cry. You know: those moments of total and utter emotional vulnerability in which the survival of your very soul relies on the escape of tears, the repetition of a single phrase and the scrounging of YouTube for videos to keep the mood alive. Or maybe I’m just being dramatic.

 Either way, here’s how to make magic happen in those moments when nothing but swollen eyes and emotional eating will fill that heart-wrenching void. Go forth, my children.

(By the way we used images from Sam Taylor Wood’s new series ‘Crying Men’ for this piece.  Crying isn’t just for girls). 

WORDS: Ms. Anne T. Donahue


Step #1: Obtain Isolation

You’ll never be able to sob to potential if you’re preoccupied with parents/friends/neighbours/your cat bursting in on a moment of emotional collapse. Thus, if you’re forecasting an evening of absolute woe, convince them to leave the premise (“What a great night! You should go out for a 20 km walk.”) and encourage a text before return (“I’d love an iced coffee – maybe kind of. Can you text me when you’re near the 7-11 and double check? Then tell me how long you’ll be? Then text me when you’re at the front door? I love you guys.”)

Not a possibility? Remind them that it’s “TV night”, and that a knock on your door will result in the immediate termination of your relationship. Then crank reruns of anything and weep. Weep until your heart’s content.

Step #2: Prepare Ensemble

You may think that you’re free to dress however, but in moments of tears, sobs and shrieks of “WHY!?” you’ll quickly learn that the uniform of a glass case of emotion is far more than “the outfit you’ve been wearing”. You’ll need:

Comfort: You may need to flail your arms, collapse into a quilt and curl into the fetus position, and pantyhouse or a onesie will not allow for this.

Familiarity: This is the time to wear someone else’s sweater without shame or to surround yourself with stuffed animals to evoke the mentality of a 5-year-old child on the cusp of a tantrum. It doesn’t matter if your T-ball t-shirt from 1993 is too small now: if it fits on your arm, you can lay your head against it for support and use its worn fabric to soak up the tears. The same rule applies to baby blankets and that hoodie you hugged the boy you liked in before you realized he was the worst.

Nonchalance: “Oh this old thing? I only wear it when I’m on the verge of absolute collapse.”

This is not a time for fashion – it’s a time for mourning, for sorrow and the Inception equivalent of mental demise. Thus, if you’re too properly tailored, you’re guaranteed to hold back. Why? Because nobody wants mascara stains on a dry clean only garment of dreams.

Step #3: Cleanse Face

Speaking of mascara, don’t wear any. (Unless you want to pretend you’ve been cast in a 2011 remake of last year’s Never Let Me Go – and in that case, wear it all. ALL.)

Of course, the best cries can be quite sudden, so if you’re not near a washcloth, toilet paper or the sleeve of yourself, allow the tears to cleanse your face and form a puddle of guilt around your immediate person. Then, every time you’ll look at it, you’ll be reminded of how sad you are and continue to cry with the gusto of scorned lover in a terrible 70s film (read: Love Story).

Step #4: Tie Hair Back

I cannot stress enough the importance of fastening fringe and long hair back to prevent the mixture of sweat, tears and what were formerly perfect waves. If you’re hoping to test this theory, experiment by wearing a scarf, hat and hood and run around your backyard for approximately 20 minutes. Stop only when you’re ready to pass out, and then examine what’s left of the hairstyle you had.

Point proven. Unless you need another reason to cry.

Step #5: Hydrate

Drink water constantly. Don’t ask why, just do.

Step #6: Think of Sad Things

Dane Cook may have perfected the crying routine in his bro-friendly stand-up, but if you’ve been in need of a serious breakdown, it’s important to remember every terrible thing you can think of to maintain emotional momentum.

Did your heart break at the end of Atonement? Replay. Did Starbucks run out of lactose-free milk? Remember the rejection. Were you self-conscious about the way you talked to a boy you liked? Re-read the texts. The world is not without its inspiration, so if you’ve committed to an evening of morose, make sure you’re surrounded by the most painful memories you can conjure.*

*However, we advise against the thinking of death, global warming, the BP oil spill, the end of Forrest Gump or the new Harry Potter trailer. Its mental pictures like that which will propel you into actual depression.

Step #7: End Scene

To reach the point of a tearless cry is both exhausting and unnecessary, so by the time you’re getting distracted by Facebook wall posts or the swelling of your own eyes, it’s time to let go. “Crying oneself to sleep” is an over-romanticized idea perpetuated by Victorian novels, so once you hit the sob peak, it’s vital to abolish all negative memories and throw yourself into YouTube videos of cute animals.

True, you will be confused by this sudden switch from bleak to unwarranted hope, but your psyche will quickly recover upon watching the Tired Loris or a cat trying to hop out of a bag. It’s at the time of the first laugh that you must switch to a season of Arrested Development and let the hilarity ensue. Within 10 minutes you will be sleeping, but will dream only of sugarplums, George Michael and never nudes. Tears be damned.

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