Friday, January 27, 2012

‘Tears are something to hide or something to fake’

Cities are seemingly the least private places in the world. I remember my first dining experience in New York, memorable not for the meal but for the conversation of the lady in the adjacent booth who proceeded to recall - in nauseating detail and broadcast in that particularly American way - her most recent visit to the gynecologist. 

Cities are perhaps even more unforgiving to those whose personal circumstances and private shames cannot be expressed without an audience.  After walking for some time in the city recently, I rested on a paving stone by the side of the road. Then, from the other side of the street, came the quiet sound of sobbing.

It is rare to see a man cry - this isn’t the movies. And never before have I witnessed a homeless guy (often the silently stoic) pour out his personal grief with such abandon. Now I do not know what is the greater grief: to have one’s childhood spoilt, but to have it salvaged in later life (and therefore finish well), or to have a wonderful childhood, but to blow it in adulthood (and therefore finish badly).

Related:

“I’ve long heard that the Port Authority is one of many public spaces across the country that uses classical music to help control vagrancy: to drive the homeless away. In 2001, police in West Palm Beach blasted Mozart and Beethoven on a crime-ridden street corner and saw incidents dwindle dramatically...Some sources report that Barry Manilow is as effective as Mozart in driving away unwanted groups of teens.”

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