To Cry About

Have you ever heard the statement 

“I’ll give you something to cry about”

When I was growing up

It was a sentence predetermined

For young men normally

To make them somehow defy the laws of physics 

And suck the tears back into their eyes

Whatever you were feeling

Shut It Down


I remember I was at my grandparents’ house

In the basement with my sister and some cousins

Doing what kids do

Using our high energy to break stuff

We were playing hide and seek or something 

And one of us found it funny to lock my cousin in this closet

Which eventually ended in a tug of war with the door

Which ultimately ended with it being ripped off the hinges


Silence, Shock, and Fear hit

Because you knew better than to rough house at grandma’s 

And worse to actually break something 

So I did the only responsible thing

I fled the scene to avoid all guilt


I ran up the steps thinking I was escaping the scene of the crime

Thinking to myself 

“You not going to get me this time”

Only to slip at the top of the steps

Wooden steps might I add

Betrayed by my signature droopy socks

And tumbled all the way back down the steps

Like a sack of potatoes

Which of course my grandmother heard

And came running

To find all us bay bay kids 

Red-handed at the scene of the crime

Broken closet, looking guilty as Jussie Smollet talking to the police


She lined us up like we were about to face the firing squad

The firing squad being her belt locked and loaded

For sequential ass whoopings

It’s a special kind of torture to watch someone get they ass whooped in line next to you

And you literally know you’re next

So she asked in an almost comically threatening kind of way

“Who wants to go first?”

My cousin Corey, who I love for this,

Bravely stepped forward 

Head high

To say “I’ll go first”

To this day, I’m not sure if I’ve seen coconuts so large

My grandmother in shock couldn’t help but laugh

We all joined in to laugh with her

Until she said

“Oh don’t think because I’m laughing, you not going to get your ass whooped”

It got quiet as the crowd when Will smacked Chris


At that moment tears started to fall

An emotional well-up from the fear of impending doom

The guilt of getting everyone caught

The sorrow of feeling that we were in trouble

And out come the most confusing words in history to me

“Stop crying, before I give you something to cry about”


Now of course you know we got whooped

But fast forward to modern day

And that question still lives in my head rent free

I can’t help but have a follow up question 

What the hell is 

“Something to cry about?”

Like when is it acceptable?

The engineer in me is asking

What is the limit?

What is the tolerance?

Is it a physical threshold

Is there an emotional plateau

Is this like a case by case situation?


What’s interesting about the threat is that whatever was happening already 

Felt like something to cry about

Or else I wouldn’t have wanted to cry about it

But the new threat of hurt would indeed then be something new to cry about

It’s actually a paradox

Stop crying before I give you something to cry about 


So turns out

There is evidence that there is a hormonal component 

Which inhibits men from crying as much as our counterparts

But this statement is different

The action stopped is to limit tears from falling

But the action learned is that when pain pays us a visit

Whatever you were feeling

Shut It Down

Power Off

Does not compute 


And that there is the perfect way to proceed through life

Try it out 

See for me

I woke up early this morning

Stretched getting out of bed

Birds chirping 

And I took my first step

Hit that corner of that one piece of furniture

You know the one I’m talking about

The one that always seems a find a way to be in the way

And I slammed my pinky toe

With the force of Thor’s hammer

So hard that the pain shot up my body like a lighting bolt

So hard that my eyes started to water

So hard that the pain was undeniable

So I did what I was taught


I defied the laws of physics

I said hold on fam

And I stopped the slightest show of pain

I caught that tear in mid air like the matrix

And sucked it back into my eye

Whatever I was feeling

I Shut It Down

Powered Off

Does not compute 


It works really great in relationships

Try it out

No, trust me

“Hey baby we need to talk” 

Uh oh hurt might be coming

Shut It Down

Powered Off

Does not compute 


“Hey baby you sure you don’t want to talk about why you and your mother aren’t speaking” 

Uh oh hurt might be coming

Shut It Down

Powered Off

Does not compute 


“Hey baby your friend just died, are you ok?” 

Uh oh hurt might be coming

Shut It Down

Powered Off

Does not compute 


Ok so maybe it doesn’t work so great

Ok it used to work

Or did it?

Is it working?

Is this thing on?

Shut It Down

Powered Off

Does not compute 


After a while I got so good at shutting down that I started to believe those feelings just didn’t affect me

But the reality is I got so good at shutting down they never had the chance to

The criteria for what is acceptable starts to feel like a test I didn’t prepare for

And then after a while Everything just starts to feel the same


And that’s where it gets scary

Because the numbness is just the surface

And underneath I have a backlog of

“Was that worth crying about” 


Deeper than Lake Michigan

With a waitlist to be processed

Slower than the post office


What the hell is something to cry about?

Is it ok if your team wins the championship?

Is it ok when your child opens their eyes for the first time?

Is it ok if she breaks your heart?

Is it ok if someone dies?

Is it ok if you’re watching the movie “Up?”

Where the old man finds the scrapbook of his late Wife?

(For real that scene got me)

Is it ok when you realize you have been holding back and pulling away from hurt for so long that you go numb?

Is it ok when you mourn for the years of your own suffering? 

What the hell is something to cry about?

It doesn’t even need to be something to cry about

What to do with pain in general?

This question is starting to feel painful just to ask

Uh oh more pain might be coming….


Well at least I know one thing I can do for sure

Shut It Down

Powered Off

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