LANGUAGE ADVISORY: This excerpt contains language some might find offensive.
Non-Traumatic Things That Have Made Me Cry
I feel like we know each other pretty well by now. You've read about African kids bullying me, Broadway plays rejecting me, and my boss throwing me out of my place of employment. When I've cried about these things, the pain was real. So I guess I should actually feel grateful for all the times I cried from something that did not scar me emotionally. Isn't that what makes us wiser, or more interesting, or something? Nietzsche did a whole thing about this. Anyway, in addition to crying at typical girl cry-bait, like The Notebook, I also have been moved to tears by some other stuff, which I've listed in no particular order:
THE PROMISE OF EVAN LIEBERMAN
Just before Christmastime, when I was twenty-six, I met a really cool guy. I'll call him Evan. He was in ﬁnance and had been the college roommate of my friend Jeff, who worked on a sitcom I loved. Evan was smart, ﬁnancially stable, and he loved comedy, even though he wasn't in comedy. We had roughly the same job description, which was that we both worked long hours at jobs we loved. Most notably, Evan was cheerful. It sounds odd, but cheerful is very hard to ﬁnd in Los Angeles. I think sometimes people think cheerful is a synonym for dumb, so no one is ever cheerful. At that time I remember thinking, I just want to meet a guy who has not been, at one point in his life, diagnosed with clinical depression. That was my only criterion. Oh, and that he wouldn't make me convert religions if things got serious. (One thing you should know about me: I absolutely refuse to stop being a culturally Hindu, deeply superstitious Christmas tree have-r.) Evan was very exciting. For our ﬁrst date, he took me to a really cool Korean BBQ place in K-Town he had clearly researched and driven by beforehand. That kind of apparent effort slays me. Over dinner Evan told lots of slightly embarrassing and funny stories about himself. He loved The Ofﬁce and had seen exactly half the episodes, which was the perfect amount to me, for some reason. He was funny in a natural way. Plus he was super cute, in a "handsomest guy in the AP calculus class" kind of way, if that makes sense.
Do guys have any real idea how much time girls spend getting ready for a promising date? For my second date with Evan, I spent the afternoon getting my eyebrows waxed and my nails done, and spent a fortune at Fred Segal on a new skirt and even more time making the salespeople all weigh in on it. I honestly don't understand how people go on dates on weeknights; don't they want all that fun time before to get ready? I had kept all my best friends updated about my upcoming date in a long and exhaustively detailed e-mail chain with the subject heading: "HOLY SHIT YOU GUYS, MAY NOT TURN INTO A CRAZY JANE EYRE ATTIC LADY AFTER ALL." I really enjoy all these rituals; it's part of the fun of having a good date to look forward to. But it takes a lot of time and effort.
At six-thirty that night, I was standing in my bathroom with my hair in curlers — it's true: pink curlers, like in a Doris Day movie — when Evan texted (texted!) to cancel dinner because he wasn't "feeling well." No details of his sickness, no apologetic eagerness to set a new date, nothing. Just a vague and short text that ended with a ?. It was less than an hour before he was supposed to pick me up.
I started crying almost immediately. A remarkable thing about me is that the time that elapses between a sad thought and a ﬂood of tears is three or four seconds. I felt so foolish, having spent so much time (and money!) getting ready. Besides the pain of the rejection, he was also robbing me of a fun evening, getting taken out, a good-night kiss, and of updating my "HOLY SHIT YOU GUYS, MAY NOT TURN INTO A CRAZY JANE EYRE ATTIC LADY AFTER ALL." correspondence with an exuberant reply-all. It sounds trite, and it is, but it is so hard to meet anyone I would even consider spending time alone with, so it was a painful blow that it was over as quickly as it had begun. I sent a new e-mail to my friends, by only changing the subject heading to "HE BAILED VIA TEXT. CONSIDERING MORPHINE ADDICTION TO EASE PAIN." My friends all called and texted within minutes with the appropriate "Fuck that guy!" messages.
As for Evan, I texted back a breezy "No worries! Feel better." text to save face. Evan thanked me for being cool about it, and I never heard from him again.
VALET GUYS WHO ARE MY DAD'S AGE
I can't even deal with this. When I see a man who is around my father's age running down the street to get a car, it breaks my heart.
THE ALBUM GRACELAND
In 2004, when I started working at The Ofﬁce and had no friends, I would listen to Graceland and just weep. On the way to work, on the way home. And not just the more ballad-y songs about loss, like "Graceland." I even cried to "You Can Call Me Al." The secret I learned is that albums that remind me of my childhood happiness make me incredibly sad now. I only have perfect memories of singing along to Graceland with my parents on long car rides to Virginia Beach to visit my parents' friends. It's sort of my go-to stock image of my childhood, actually. I think it has something to do with knowing I'll never be able to go back to that time that makes me cry every time I listen to it.
DEPRESSING ZEITGEISTY MAGAZINE ARTICLES ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS
Every couple months or so, some boundary-breaking article comes out in a nationally published magazine. The article makes a big thesis statement about relationships, like, say, how women don't need men anymore, or how if you're a woman over thirty-ﬁve you should just settle with whatever guy is halfway nice to you, or how monogamy is not feasible or plausible or enjoyable for any human and we should all be swingers, or a study is released that says you don't have to love your kids anymore or something. They're the kind of articles that are e-mailed everywhere, and I get them forwarded to me about eight times.
I'll read one of these articles, and immediately after I'm so swept up in it that I can't help but think, Yes, yes, that is 100 percent right. Finally! Someone has conﬁrmed that little voice in the back of my mind that has always not loved my kids! Or I'm so happy I'm this much closer to that swinging lifestyle I've been secretly craving! I'm normal! And now it's a national discussion, so others agree, and I can feel normal now. But then, a week later, I'm thinking, I hate this. I feel awful. This wretched little magazine article has helped convince more open-minded liberal arts graduates that the nuclear family doesn't exist without some hideous twist, like the dad is allowed to go to an S&M dungeon once a week or something. It makes me cry because it means that fewer and fewer people are believing it's cool to want what I want, which is to be married and have kids and love each other in a monogamous, long-lasting relationship.
All women love Colin Firth: Mr. Darcy, Mark Darcy, George VI — at this point he could play the Craigslist Killer and people would be like, "Oh my God, the Craigslist Killer has the most boyish smile!" I love Colin Firth in everything, even as the obsessed, miffed, tortured non-Ralph Fiennes husband in The English Patient. But the role that makes me cry is Mark Darcy, from Bridget Jones's Diary.
When we ﬁrst meet Mark, he's kind of a, well, dick. He's arrogant and judgmental and seems to take himself so seriously. But he is secretly wonderful (and not so secretly gorgeous). There is a part in the movie — I've seen it six or seven times, and I swear to God, every time I see it coming, I start tearing up in anticipation — when we ﬁrst see that Mark Darcy is not a bad guy. In fact, we see that he is the best guy ever.
Do you guys remember the scene when Bridget is sneaking out of the horrible couples dinner, having humiliated herself in front of all of her "smug marrieds"? And when she's at the door, Mark stops her and he says, "I like you, very much. Just as you are."
It's ridiculous that I love this so much. It's so simple. It's not a witty, perfectly phrased, Ephron-y declaration by our charming, neurotic hero. It's so ... plain. But the idea is the most beautiful thing in the world. So, obviously, it makes me cry.
A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS SOUNDTRACK ALBUM
If I ever get cast in some Changeling-type movie where I need to cry instantly because my child was murdered, I will make sure to have Vince Guaraldi's A Charlie Brown Christmas album ready to go in my trailer. The children's voices and connections to the Peanuts from my childhood are just the beginning. (I always identiﬁed with Peppermint Patty, in case you were wondering — the loud, opinionated man-girl who chased around her crush without even fully knowing she liked him.) The music is gorgeous, but even the upbeat arrangements are tinged with something sad, like Joni Mitchell's Blue.
JONI MITCHELL'S BLUE
I know every single word to this album, but you would never know that, because I blubber through the entire thing. Also, I ﬁnd it extremely impossible not to cry when I hear Stevie Nicks's "Landslide," especially the lyric: "I've been afraid of changing, because I've built my life around you." I think a good test to see if a human is actually a robot/android/cylon is to have them listen to this song lyric and study their reaction. If they don't cry, you should stab them through the heart. You will ﬁnd a fusebox.
IF MY MOM CRIES
It makes absolutely no difference what it is about, but if my mother is crying, I will start to cry. I think it mostly has to do with the fact that my mom never cries. She is so cool. Me, on the other hand, I cry like ﬁve times a week. My mom and I went to go see The Help, and during the movie I noticed her start tearing up. It was such a rare sight, I started to as well. Soon we were both weeping so hard it was as though we'd been black maids in Jim Crow–era Mississippi and the movie had hit too close to home. People were weirded out.
Excerpted from Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling. Copyright 2011 by Mindy Kaling. Excerpted by permission of Crown Archetype and Harmony Books, an imprint of Crown Publishing Group.