September 18, 2001

I'm not someone who cries at the drop of a hat. In fact, that would have to be one hell of a hat to bring a tear to my eye. Maybe a vintage Dior, dropping into a mud puddle...

Anyway, I say this because I've been talking a lot about tears and getting choked up and eyes welling. There's a point at which you've mentioned tears so often, in a story for instance, that they lose their impact, that they become common and the reader starts to glaze over when you use the words. But if you know the context, if you understand the character, when she tells you about her tears, if you know that they're unusual for her, they still have an impact. I don't cry often and I don't cry in front of people if I can help it. I was the only 11 year old in the theater with a dry eye during E.T. while my family sniffled. It's always been my way. So remember that when I tell you that tears welled up again this morning.

I thought all that was over. I thought I'd heard enough stories, seen enough heartache on TV to harden me up sufficiently to be beyond the tears. But no. This morning there was Katie Couric doing an interview with a K-9 unit policeman who was in tower 2 when it was hit, was in the rubble for nearly 5 hours, was eventually dug out with a couple of other guys and a woman he had saved. I watched him trying to speak as matter-of-factly and correctly as possible (he corrected Katie when she said he'd been in the rubble for 5 hours, told her it had been about 4 1/2. As if it made him any less heroic.) and as he talked about calling his wife and telling her he loved her. And I felt the tears building when he talked about all the people who were still missing, including his dog--"I know it sounds silly, but he was my partner." I don't know how Katie steeled herself.

Frankly, I'm tired of so much news in my news. I want to turn on the Today show and notice Katie's bad girl boots and new dye job, I want to laugh at how smarmy Matt can be, I want to listen to Al talking about the weather and pointing out cute babies in the crowd outside the studio. But I don't think there is a crowd anymore, I don't think people gather for their moments of fame on the TV screen to say hi to Mom. People know that if you're on TV these days it means you're begging for word of your missing son or wiping the sweat and dust off your brow and talking about your fallen brothers then returning to dig through the rubble or telling someone that you're giving blood because you feel helpless and need to do something. I keep hoping for a frivolous story on my news, a piece on Angelina Jolie's new movie or the new book by The Rules girls. Anything but this horror that has become our everyday viewing.

I watched three straight hours of Law and Order last night because at least there the murders and violence were made up. It was a relief to know that the bloody-faced man on the ground got up after his shot was over and went to eat a donut at the catering table. I wonder if this is how people watching TV during the Vietnam War felt, seeing the real violence and blood on TV during dinner, when normally there would be The Mary Tyler Moore Show or The Partridge Family. Suddenly the world seemed a whole lot darker. As it does now.

Read this (thanks to eleganthack). And be afraid.

Click here if you want to donate to the Red Cross through Amazon.com.

Posted by Alyssa at September 18, 2001 10:25 PM
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