Saturday, March 20, 2010

Valerie Best Doesn't Cry

So, I'm not much of a crier.

And I, for some reason, often find myself surrounded by non-criers. My college roommates, for example, weren't criers.

Famously, in college ward Relief Society one Sunday, they showed a video made by LDS Family Services. The video depicted young girls making a difficult but valiant decision to give up a child to loving and supportive adoptive parents. The girls in the video cried, the adoptive parents cried, and there was soundtrack; all orchestrated to be emotionally moving.

And I was. Emotionally moved. But, also, dry eyed. Completely.

Not so with a large percentage of the 65th Ward Relief Society. Someone stared passing around a box of tissues. I declined one, and passed it to the roommate behind me, and, as I turned, I saw Annie, Candice, Shiloh, and Cherie, all similarly tear-free, looking politely bemused as they continued to pass the tissues without taking one.

My heartlessness notwithstanding, tonight I found myself standing in my kitchen over a bowl of half-made cookie dough, crying. Not just crying, hands over face, glad no one else was around sobbing. It was this episode of This American Life that did it. It's the first story (Midlife Cowboy), just after James Spring brings the tacos back to the jail.

This story hit a lot of chinks in my emotional armor: fathers, hunger, tacos (not really tacos, but it felt nicer to have three things there).

Give it a listen, the whole episode is great, and that first story is a powerhouse.

*The episode is called Save the Day, and it was first aired on 03/12/10.

**I certainly didn't intend to impugn LDS Family Services in the least, as it is an important organization. For more information go here.

***I had a few sets of roommates, all great. This story refers to one particular set.


  1. I listened to this last week but I definitely didn't cry. I was pretty concerned when it seemed like the grandparents were crappy too. But I know increasingly more stories in the people surrounding my friends and family who are willing to endanger their families in situations involving meth. That part of the segment was sad but not sad enough that Captain Manslaughter should get to keep his kids nor the woman who decided to support him through it all. Unless you were crying for James Springs.
    I get a little teary-eyed at that adoption video because of personal point of view based on the experiences of my friends--just like I didn't cry for the story above based on experience. The video that makes the tears trickle off my face in steady flow is the one about humanitarian aid around the world.
    I listen to This American Life every week. Now I know that you listen to it too, I'll think of you when I'm listening.

  2. totally remember that sunday.
    i will take a listen to that episode--and soon.

  3. Val, Candace told me about her comment and I just wanted to add/state clearly that the meth stories are about my older brother Joe or one of his friends that my family knows in Iowa. And to use my brother as an example, he was a really great guy, really great. But using meth made him completely irresponsible as a father. Like, neglectful in a few cases.

    So that would be why Candace and I both don't really feel compassion for meth addicts who get their kids taken away. We aren't saying they are bad people, but their addiction makes them incapable of being good parents.

  4. While I loved that episode of This American Life, I didn't cry. I reserve my tears for Rudy.

  5. I cry ALL THE TIME. If I could figure out a way to get paid for it I'd finally be able to buy a Slurpee machine.

    I listened to the story and cried. Specifically at the taco part. Heartbreaking.

    I want to be Ira Glass when I grow up.

  6. Darren, what would you say if I told you I've never seen Rudy? Because I haven't.

    Rachel, someday you'll get that slurpee machine. I just know it.

  7. I can't wait to listen to this. I'm watching my niece and nephew right now so I haven't yet...but I can't wait.

    Also, I love this story. I love that you guys didn't fall for the emotional manipulation that was RS that day!

    Although, I have no reason to talk, I cry at EVERYTHING.

  8. I am afraid that pregnancy has changed me...I cry.

  9. ugh, valerie, you are such a crybaby, geez..ugh...geez.......ugh.