Monday, April 29, 2013

Relative Weepiness



I often make fun of John Boehner and his tendency to weep spontaneously--usually in response to stimuli that I, personally, do not find particularly moving (cheesy jingoistic renditions of "America the Beautiful", clich√©-ridden commencement speeches, Republican support for millionaire tax breaks).  But, on the other hand, I, too, cry quite a lot.

About a pretty wide range of topics.

I cry at news reports of mothers drowning their babies in the bathtub; I cry when reading stories about dogs who refuse to leave their dead owners' graves; I cry as I watch my nephew making his two-year-old daughter giggle by tossing her in the air; I cry when I remember some of the heartless emotional suffering I too-often inflicted on my parents; I cry when I cannot seem to shake my loneliness.

Obviously, tears are a kind of safety valve:  like that gizmo on old-fashioned pressure cookers which releases a bit of steam when built-up pressure threatens to blow the whole vessel to smithereens.

But wouldn't it be interesting to conduct a study to find out exactly what makes people so emotionally or physically "steamed" that they need to blow off pressure in the form of tears?  Are the "heat sources" the same for everybody--objectively uniform?  Or does an individual's "tearing point" depend upon entirely subjective, personal factors?

Well, duh.  Once again, the answer is obvious:  relative weepiness, like relative humidity, is a kind of ratio between responses that are unique to ourselves divided by responses that we share with all humankind.  On day X, for example, I experience 20 personal tear triggers--out of a possible 30 universal tear triggers.  On that day, my relative weepiness is 62%, and I do not cry, though I may be a bit overcast.  On day Y, however, I experience 35 personal tear triggers--again out of a possible 30 universal tear triggers.  Thus, on that dismal day, my relative weepiness is 116%--and I will probably blubber from dawn to dusk.

It is likely that only hot fudge sundaes (me) or visits to tanning salons (John Boehner) can alleviate oppressive relative weepiness--and staunch the flow of tears.







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