Last Tuesday, I was having dinner with a friend when she asked how my Father’s cancer treatments were going. In a split second, I was sobbing uncontrollably. In a restaurant. During Happy Hour. Surrounded by strangers. Dammit.
I quickly grabbed my purse and walked expediently towards the restroom where I composed myself and re-applied my under-eye concealer.
When I emerged, looking fresh as a daisy and wearing my best no-that-wasn’t-me-who-just-ran-bawling-into-the-bathroom-smile, people were staring. (Or maybe it just felt like they were?) I walked calmly back to my table, like a thief concealing a priceless diamond in her cleavage, and retook my seat.
“Are you okay?,” she asked.
“Of course. I’m just not used to experiencing emotions. I’m usually on enough prescription medication to keep that from happening.” I chuckled.
“Well, good. Because everyone was watching, I was mortified for you.”
Great. It wasn’t my imagination.
I sipped my margarita slowly, resisting the urge to chug it like it was the elixir of eternal life, and silently hated myself. I was now that crying girl. Sure, I was crying for a very good reason, but the dozens of strangers who’d just watched me melt into a puddle didn’t know that.
Crying is a sensitive and controversial subject for women. Until recently, I held a simple philosophy about crying. Crying in private is fine. Crying in public is forbidden. And crying during a fight with your significant other is blackmail.
This was an easy doctrine to follow because I didn’t cry, but now that I’ve fallen in with the weeping willows in the ladies room, I’m wondering what other women consider to be normal.
When is it okay to cry in public? What is worth crying over? And when, if ever, can a woman be judged for crying?