Crying on Cue by Deb Anna

Wonderful actors supposedly struggle with the skill — supposedly, even Sir Lawrence Olivier couldn’t do it. So why I — a writer not particularly prone to tears who isn’t nearly masochistic enough to have ever wanted to be an actress — can make myself cry is beyond me.

I’m not exactly sure when I discovered that I had this talent. It wasn’t when I wanted a better grade, got pulled over for a ticket or needed to make sure a guy didn’t break up with me right then. The skill is, in fact, utterly useless in those types of situations because it takes a good five minutes of full concentration — minutes that simply don’t exist when, say, you’re watching the cop walk from his car up to yours.

I’ve really only used it as a party trick. And oh, what a party — watch Anna cry! It actually goes over amazingly well with children, especially the already cynical ones who’ve seen all the standard adult tricks (ear wiggling, double jointed finger moving, juggling, etc.) and are hungry for some original ones. “Are you thinking about something very sad?” they always ask, their fascinated faces peering closely at mine and waiting to see when the liquid will start pouring.

The truth is, I don’t think of anything sad. I don’t think of anything at all — beyond the fact that I’m trying to push tears out of my eyes. I’ve told many — usually the ever-inquisitive children — that you simply push the tears out of your eyes using the same muscle that you use to yawn. Start to yawn, and then push tears instead, I always say, unable to explain it any better than that. They yawn and then look at me like I must be leaving something out.

But I’m not. That’s what I do. Maybe I magically accessed the tear-generating muscle somewhere near my esophagus one day and then, through exercise and practice, made it something I can now use easily. Maybe I was meant to have gotten better at it before those times I got pulled over so I really could have gotten out of those tickets. Maybe the writing thing won’t work out and I’ll decide to pursue acting.

Although just the mere thought of that is enough to unleash the real waterworks.

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8 thoughts on “Crying on Cue by Deb Anna

  1. Hmm, Anna, is it possible that — rather than going into acting — you open up a workshop to teach aspiring/established actors this talent? Since so many complain about not being able to cry on cue, sharing your technique with them might have you crying all the way to the bank. 🙂

  2. Ha, Anna, this is great! I was able to do this when I was a child. My mother would use it as a party trick for her friends, you know, like, “Kristy, come here. Okay, now cry!” 😀 I don’t know when I lost the ability, but I love that you can still do it. Surely it will come in handy at some point!

  3. Crying on command – I had no idea there were muscles that did that. Have been trying but to no avail. Hey, maybe you could star in your own movie when your book is optioned and put into production … does the Party Girl shed a tear or two?

  4. Push the tears out through your yawning muscle? Wow. You know, I think that’s the same muscle that I wiggle my ears with. Sadly, I’m not even kidding.

  5. What’s crazy, Tish, is that you’re right! It IS the same muscle. Crying on cue is like the graduate school of ear wiggling. I know you could get there…

  6. I’ve always admired people who could cry on a whim, all those actors who can summon them at will. I’m just not that talented. I tried pushing the tears out through my yawn muscle, and I can see the merits of the technique. Tears almost DID come to my eyes. I’ll keep working on it–maybe three reps twice each day, increasing frequency as I get stronger. A girl can never have too many manipulative tactics in her arsenal.

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