The two most frequently asked questions of me are, “Daddy, are you crying?” and “Daddy, did you just fart?”
I don’t know why, but the questions almost always provoke a lie. I’ll say, “Why, no (sniff), I’m not crying.” Or, “I did not fart. Must have been your mother.”
I guess I lie because they can’t handle the truth.
In fact, I cry and fart all the time.
I don’t know why I fart so much, but I do.
Some people fart after consuming a big spicy meal.
Me, I fart after eating one raisin.
It’s always made me popular with the guys who think Barney Rubble’s a great actor (“Night Shift”), but it makes me in a house of three refined ladies a real stinker in every sense of the word.
The crying’s more complicated.
Something happens at least once a day that brings tears to the surface. Understand, I’m not talking blubbering.
I’m not a weepy guy. But I am emotional and full clear up to my eyes, it seems, with an endless reservoir of tears.
Here’s some examples of recent moments that left me choked up.
• Gettysburg -- I was overcome with emotion when my daughter, Josie, was with me as we saw so many historic moments during our trip there last month. It was one of the best weekends I’ve ever had in this fatherhood gig and sentimental tears dampened my eyes the whole time.
• Jack Nicholson -- Josie and I were watching “As Good As it Gets,” the hilarious 1997 movie in which Nicholson plays the most misanthropic character since Archie Bunker. But the movie features many elegant moments where the Helen Hunt character, a single mother who waitresses to earn her meager living, deals with a chronically sick child. I cry when I see fellow human beings struggle and I cry when I see fellow human beings overcome struggles.
• Mail -- I’m cleaning up the office in preparation for my big party Friday and I found an old letter from my late father. It’s nothing special, just a note about how much fun he had golfing with me the previous day. Being a father makes me cry. So does being a son.
Am I missing anything?
I cried when I heard the news. I cried when I saw Barack Obama cry. I cried when I saw pictures of bereaved families. I cried when the children sang “Silent Night” during the SNL opening.
I’m crying now.
So next time one of my daughters ask me if I’m crying I should respond the way another Nicholson character responded when the Tom Cruise character asked him if he ordered the Code Red.
You’re goddamned right I’m crying.
In fact, the question shouldn’t be, “Daddy, are you crying?” These days the salient question should be, “Daddy, why aren’t you crying?”
We’re being slaughtered in malls, in movie theaters and in places where being a real meanie used to have a more innocent definition.
To paraphrase an alcoholic tweet of mine last week, “It’s not surprising we cry. It’s surprising we ever stop crying.”
Now, it’s been four days and people are wondering if it’s okay to laugh again. Yes, by all means.
What else can we do?
Because our rivers of tears have proven to be utterly meaningless. We’ve all cried before. We cried at Columbine. We cried at Blacksburg and none of it did any good. We still had to cry all over again Friday at Newtown.
We need to get on with our lives and laugh long and hard. We need to celebrate every moment we have. We need to party, to love and to fully enjoy this Christmas season like it might be our last.
Because everyone knows the way things are right now that’s just what it might turn out to be.
And that’s a crying shame.
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