Thursday, December 15, 2011

A post with feelings

I am an excellent public speaker.

As best man at a friend of mine's wedding, I was given the chance to speak publicly.

I am a pretty confidant guy, so I really didn't need to prepare anything.

Though, unfortunately, when they handed me the microphone, I began to sob incoherently.

I did not feel the least bit emotional.

It was the result of the same upsurge in adrenalin that other people would use to kick incredible amounts of ass or lift horse-drawn carts off of French peasants.

We are all superhuman in our own way.

My crying has held a very predictable pattern throughout my life.

It begins as spastic shocks to the jaw, which I try to control by tightly closing my mouth.

This makes my jowls wiggle furiously in a dance of sadness.

The commotion pops my mouth back open enough to let out sounds long buried inside me since the dawn of my puberty.

Imagine a small, fat child being shown The Exorcist repeatedly. What would that sound like?

Gheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee(enormous tortured inhalation)Gheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.(the slappy lapping away of snot and tears) gheeeeee.

Now that sound is amplified via microphone in front of a hundred and fifty people, and you are wearing a tuxedo that lifts your breasts up high as if on a platter.

And damn you, you still try to give the speech.

Gheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee I'VE slapsob slapsob KNOWN gheeeeeeeeeeeeee BERT gheeeeeeeeee
F-F-F-F-OR awwwwwgheeeeeeeeeeeeee awgee agwee murfle

And the faces of the people around you! 

So luminous with sympathy, so endeared to you now that you have tipped your hand and proven that behind your skinhead exterior you are just a big blubbering dumbass after all.

But I wasn't sad, really.

Though on another occasion of public speaking, I guess I was a little sad.

I took a group of students to a performance being put on by a local college drama class.

It was one of those things where the teacher would say stuff like, "BE SADNESS!" and all the actors would have to freeze into statues of sadness. Then, "BE SHAME!", and the statues would fluidly shift into shame.

The whole thing was, to the untrained eye, really bad and awkward.

Towards the end, the players opened it up to the audience of about 100 people.

"Give us your story," they called,"give us your story and we will perform it here before you, a magical act of theatership for your delight!"

One college girl raised her hand.

She told some family anecdote which sounded suspiciously like The Gift of the Magi.

The actors took to their roles with gusto, the audience laughed, and the girl shook her head as if to say, 'yes, that is exactly how it was.'

When they were finished with that performance, they went to the audience again for another tale.

What was it that day, what emotion was it that lay so within my subsurface I never knew it would make me speak out until I already had?

 I stood up and said, "I have something you could do."

All those young, aspiring actors fixed on me, their faces eager and encouraging.

The crowd of 100 leaned closer as well, curious as to what this man with a troupe of developmentally disabled next to him would have to say.

gheeeeeeeeeee gheeeeeeeeeeeeee awgee murfle SEVERAL Y-Y-Y-YEARS AGO gheeeeeeeee

Through the most incredible fit of jowl seizure I have ever experienced, I told the story of how I had a client drown on a summer trip to the lake.

There were four of us staff, all eyes on the lake, but somehow the little boy slipped under the water, became tangled in the muck, and never came back up.

It was one of my most spectacular failures as a human being.

I managed to tell this story, through the most ridiculous sobs you can imagine, to that team of young thespians.

When I was finished, their faces were slack, mouths open. Some of them looked ill.

It's strange that a grief I had carried with me for several years without ever speaking of, came out so suddenly, so randomly, and was now going to be made into a play in front of my eyes.

Well, they tried anyways..

It was excruciating; horribly acted, and thick with every after-school special cliche you could imagine.

The crowd clapped and cheered, but not me.

All I could think of was how fast I could get my students out of there before any sympathetic faces approached me and wanted to pat me on any part of my body.

I know some day I will run for public office, and I cannot wait for that moment when I first step in front of the microphone, open my mouth, and blow the hell out of everyone's eardrums with my random fit of grief.


  1. I th ink you nee d a hug.
    Really s oon.
    And very off ten.

  2. Crying is about being overwhelmed by emotion, not just sadness. I know most of my crying comes from anger or frustration... rarely ever sadness.

  3. And THAT was certainly a 'post with feelings.'

    Love the description of your jowls wiggling furiously in a 'dance of sadness.' It was almost poetic...almost. :)

  4. Oooofff...I'm sorry about your client..

  5. My therapist told me that crying just means you care.

    I think I have the female form of your "GHEEEEE" cry only mine is higher pitched, so high in fact that only dogs can hear it and they howl in the neighborhood whenever I am hit with a fit of bottomless grief.

    P.S. It is not your fault.

  6. "jowls wiggle furiously in a dance of sadness" That evoked such visions.. my butt does the same thing. Yes, i have butt jowels.

  7. (uM, eX-squeeze me, but I noticed there was no Turtleneck of Seriousness)

  8. i was thinking the same as esbboston. i'm disappointed that there was no turtleneck of sadness.
    i often have the opposite reacion when on a mike. i laugh inappropriately and excessively when i'm handed a mike. it's bad, very very bad

  9. Yikes! That' interesting little cathartic habit you have.

  10. Where was the freaking Turtleneck of Seriousness???? Dude... I was honestly laughing out loud while you described your Best Man speech, and relating, in a very weird way... I mean, I react exactly like that when I'm INCREDIBLY pissed. People think they've hurt my feelings because I'm howling and bawling like a crazy woman, but in reality they have no idea how close they are to having a cap popped in their asses because I AM THAT MAD.

    THEN... THENNNN... you hit me with the drowning of a client. Having worked with children with autism in a school setting for so many years, in absolutely broke my heart to read of your experience. That is every caretaker's worse nightmare... I would rather throw myself off a cliff than be in anyway even partially responsible for even so much as a splinter in someone else's child's finger.
    I can't imagine your grief and pain regarding that incident.
    I just can't imagine.

    I really hope that in sharing it and expressing all that emotion, even in a strange public setting, you left some of it go.

  11. I am so sorry about your client.

    On a happier note, my husband never cries. Yet, his body seems to create an inordinate amount of sweat (he is not overweight, he is fit) for no reason whatsoever. So swap out the best-man-giving-the-speech-stories-from-the-blubbering-talker, and replace it with The Sweaty Guy. Face sweat. That is some scary sweat, I tell ya'. I adore my husband, so we invested in some (girly) face-powder so he does not have to do the sweat humiliation thing too often.


  12. esboston-if you're selling, I'm buying!

    Jrose-I guess thats good to know. I guess.


    C-yep, pretty much sucked!

    Mandy-I think I have hit into that upper register with my cries too. It is painful and embarassing.

    saintlov-cool! I bet I have those too...can't wait to find a full-length mirror and check it out.

    esboston, again-since only one tiny part of it was serious, I figured, in this instance, the turtleneck was not needed

    sherilinr-that sounds awesome! I love giggling idiots holding microphones, its so much better than sobbing ones

    gia-it makes for lots of sweet, sweet awkwardness, let me tell you.

    killer cupcake-that serious bit kind of randomly popped out while I was writing off the top of my head, so I did not have my turtleneck at hand. I am glad you still liked the post, though.

    MOV-your husband is fortunate. I would trade sweat for tears. With your husband.

  13. I can understand and relate. I had a similar moment in High school. Prepared a speech for, you guessed it speech class. Flight 787 bomb, explosion blew out several passengers but plane landed safely. But even though I practiced and had it down pact, my nervousness made me laugh, giggle but I had it under control. So on the day of the speech I gave it with out a smile, without a giggle. Ofcourse I got a "B" because the teacher said I showed no emotion..... ????

  14. Wow. You pull us in and make us smile and then we're under the water drowning...

  15. Haha, you're funny:)

  16. You have a great talent - not only for being amazingly funny - but also for being amazingly touching as well. I know that loss has probably haunted you for years, hopefully talking about it (and writing about it) was somewhat cathartic for you...

  17. him formerly known as krouth-thanks, I appreciate all the flattery you always flatter upon me


    Julie-the old bait and switch.

    mohd-hi! Malaysia is far.


  18. Wasn't expecting that either, what with the lack of Serious Turtleneckhood.

    Gheeeeeeeeee. . .

  19. need more people like you in this world who is able to speak out honestly with less justification...^_^

  20. Is GHEEEEEE more of a nasal sound or throaty sound?

    Also, given your public speaking talent, have you considered a career crying in front of crowds? There could be money in it.

    Also also, I applaud your work. Hopefully you enjoy making us all laugh as much as we enjoy...uhh...laughing.

  21. Nura-if there were more people like me in this world, it would be a fatter,balder, shorter place

    ryan-definitely nasal. Sort of like a grieving by proxy thing? Could be good. Thanks for reading!

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  23. Hahaha... I know what you're going through with the crying condition - I've got it too... but at least you've turned it into something entertaining with this post! Of course, I bet your friend "bert" at the wedding enjoyed it too.