On the weekends, my fiancee stays up really late and sleeps in really late, and my body will no longer allow me to sleep past 8:30, which means I get the entire morning (and part of the early afternoon) to myself. Sometimes, I’ll watch TV or a movie. Yesterday, I was watching Rachael Ray’s Kid’s Cook-off on Food Network—one of those chef contest shows, like Chopped, except with kids—and for some reason, I kept tearing up. Tearing up while a kid described what she cooked, tearing up while they were doing the judging, tearing up when they all hugged at the end . . . Sure, I bet this was an emotional moment for some of the kids and their onlooking parents, but for a benign TV viewer, this is no crying matter.
I was impressed by these kids. Impressed by how well-spoken they were,impressed that an 8-year-old knew what mango chutney is and how to make it in a way that would rival many adult chefs, impressed by another 8-year-old’s venison bacon burgers . . . Was this why I was crying? Was I living vicariously through the lives of well-spoken child chefs? Was I jealous?
These kids were also very well-dressed with cute hair styles. I’m sure their parents helped with this, but it had me looking back at myself at a similar age—wearing some baggy t-shirt with a pair of horrid circa 1980s no-shape leggings with the irritating elastic loop thingies on the feet; long hair a tangled, unbrushed mess, bangs hanging in my eyes—and wondered if kids these days really are just that much more sophisticated than they were in the early 90s or if I was just a mess of a kid. Looking back on class pictures, I’m going to go with the latter.
Was that why I was crying? Or was it something different altogether? Was I crying because I don’t have a 7-year-old of my own to teach how to cook? I am 30, after all, and still childless.
Was it something that had nothing to do with the show at all? Some lingering emotion that needed to get out while my fiancee slept?
I have no freaking idea why I was crying. And it kept happening; I teared up several times and full-on sobbed at least twice, with no idea why. I’m not depressed. My relationship is going very well. I love my job. I haven’t been sleep-deprived.
This is not new to me. I often find myself bursting into tears while watching totally benign movies and TV. A couple weeks ago, it happened while I was watching The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe with my fiancee, lying with my head on his lap. At the end of the movie, I did not sit up yet, because he said something like, “That’s not at all what I remember from the books. Haha, a little ridiculous!” Clearly, he was not as moved by the lonely war-torn children’s escape into a mythical realm of snow and fantastical creatures where time stood still and they got to live for years as heros in cute Medieval-era clothes before returning back to reality and their current time period through the wardrobe that brought them there as children, and I needed to get it together before sitting up so he wouldn’t wonder what the hell was wrong with me.
The same thing happens when I watch Alice in Wonderland, Big Fish (only NOT during the actual “sad” parts, like when he’s dying), and Once Upon a Time.
I’m noticing a trend toward being moved to tears by the fantasy genre. Is it wonder? Is it because I wish I could live in these fictional worlds myself? I imagine life would be way more interesting, with no reality TV and celebrity worship and terrible pop music and even worse fashion trends, and I also love Medieval dresses and castles and Pegasi. Or is it my failure at trying to write fantasy fiction myself? I have always been a wordsmith and lover of fiction, but I seem to be lacking in the imagination department, and therefore am unlikely to ever be the next J.K. Rowling or George R.R. Martin.
I have no idea. Absolutely no clue why I was crying, especially since there is a big difference between the fantasy genre making me cry and child chefs making me cry. I don’t feel sad, and that makes it all the more puzzling.