Men who cry are meatballs, or so I thought.
Those of us raised in macho urban precincts learned at an early age to subsume emotion, and never let anyone see us get upset. It's massively unhealthy, of course, but real men soldier on.
That's how I felt until the Little Girl came.
As a baby, she once cried so long and so hard that I found myself tearing up. I was puzzled, like Jerry Seinfeld who, during a rare emotional moment on his sit-com, dabbed his eyes and asked, "What is this salty discharge?"
When my daughter told me that she missed my mother, who had recently died, I nearly bit through my lower lip.
Not long ago, the Little Girl wondered sadly why a classmate hadn't invited her to his birthday party. The macho urge to hunt down the boy's father and introduce him to the floor felt familiar enough. But the misty-eyed vulnerability that wobbled my legs was a pretty new feeling.
Nowadays, I am a mass of gooey sentiment in nearly all things. I see commercials in which dads have tea with their kids, or moms gentle their twins to sleep, and I vibrate with mawkish namby-pambyism.
How did a guy who once flipped the bird to a crazy former landlord who was pointing a shotgun at him become one of the women on "The View?"
I blame the Little Girl. She's made me empathetic, open, and friable. I'm ice cream in a microwave, a tissue in the rain.
I am, in short, a meatball.
It will be my joy and my undoing. And, of course, the greatest ride of my life.