The Strange Tears of Joe Florance

By Joe Florance:


I have been called a robot on a few occasions. Emotional repression ran roughshod in my family of origin.


"There, there . . . now stop crying" hung above the hearth.


My siblings and I had to touch the calligraphic sign before dinner each night.


I would say "good times," but I never liked that phrase, and if I ever said it, it is normally said ironically (I felt the need to double up on the irony in order to offset the prescribed initial irony, so really came off like an asshole).


Now, I can't say it because of those damn Morongo casino commercials. Dude, what is their ad budget? Was that included in the latest stimulus package?


Good, bad, and ugly, that whole thing was a part of my upbringing. I found myself not crying when others would cry, and many times would judge others for crying. Not to their faces, of course, but inside. Not deep inside. The shallow inside. Wading pool. No, that's too deep. Like the end of a wave at the beach, about ten feet beyond the wave where the sand sort of feels like it could be wet, but you can't really tell. There. That level of inside.


Crying? Why is anyone crying? Now, at events where it totally made sense to cry, like funerals, I would just look around at the crying people and start a conversation with myself:


"Hey, why aren't you crying?"


A normal response would be something like, "Not sure."


Which was followed up with, "You hungry?"


"Always."


"Ask someone to go to lunch after this."


"Totally."


"Who are you gonna ask?"


"Aaron."


"Smart."


"I know. He has the suburban. We can all fit."