KATHY MITCHELL AND MARCY SUGAR \ Annie's Mailbox It's OK for guys to cry, but it can be prevented if desired
Dear Annie: I'm writing in response to "Crying Guy," the military man who tears up at sad occasions. I also am a guy who cries. When I was single and dating, it was an asset. Most women found it reassuring when I cried at movies. My ability to cry at weddings and the occasional Hallmark commercial was on my wife's list of reasons to marry me. My children also have seen me cry, and I'm glad they understand that it is healthy.
Still today, when I cry at some sappy movie, my wife smiles and squeezes my hand. I admit that I sometimes watch the credits to allow time to let my eyes dry before going out to the lobby, but maybe we guys who cry are just a little more in tune with the human condition -- and maybe there are more of us than anybody realizes. Crier in Missouri
Dear Crier: We heard from hundreds of readers who thought Crying Guy was just fine, and others who wanted to pass along some skills for staying dry-eyed:
From New York: Here's a trick I use to keep from crying at funerals. Think of the alphabet backward. It takes a lot of concentration and will keep the tears at bay. When that becomes too easy, count backward from 1,000 by threes -- 997, 994, 991, etc. It works.
Virginia: Here's what I learned in a public-speaking course. Without moving your head, look up with your eyes. This blocks the tear ducts. I use this at weddings, funerals and military ceremonies. The downside is that the tears flow back through your sinuses, so be prepared for a runny nose. Just claim you have allergies.
Pensacola, Fla.: I learned this technique from my daughter just before her wedding. Use the side of your index finger and push up slightly on the cartilage at the base of your nose. Do this until it hurts a bit and hold that position until the urge to cry goes away. I was delighted to be able to walk down the aisle with my daughter with a smile on my face rather than fighting tears.
Patrick Springs, Va.: My husband calls me a "wimpy thing" (lovingly), but there are times I really would like to be able to control the waterworks. Help arrived unexpectedly from my niece when, during a conversation, she became emotional. She took a breath and said, "Do math, do math, do math." I tried it at a funeral recently, and it prevented a downpour. All it took was some simple addition.
Orange Park, Fla.: It is physiologically impossible to drink and cry at the same time. All he needs to do is take along some bottled water and continually take a sip.
Pennsylvania: I have a helpful hint for "Crying Guy." Pinch your nostrils shut, and you will be unable to cry. Works like a charm.
Dear Annie: Yesterday, I received a phone call from my daughter-in-law. She stated that she would appreciate it if I didn't call her anymore until I was ready to admit that I was telling lies about her and that I would stop.
Annie, I haven't been saying anything about her, and I refuse to admit to something when I am innocent. We live in a small town, and I suggested that we go to whoever is telling her this piece of baloney and confront them. What should I do? Shunned Mother-in-Law
Dear Shunned: Talk to your son, and explain the problem. Ask him to talk to his wife and get her to consider the possibility that one of her "friends" is trying to poison the well. Meanwhile, call your daughter-in-law and say you are sorry -- not for doing anything wrong, but because she obviously was hurt by this malicious person, and a good relationship with her is important to you.
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