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Be a Man This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

By , Manhattan Beach, CA
As a 17-year-old male, I don't cry. I can't even remember the last time I did. I have friends who don't cry and a dad who doesn't cry. I have been told to “man up and stop crying.” That's the way it is: babies cry, and women cry, but real men don't cry. I don't cry. On Sunday, September 11, 2011, however, I broke my rule.

That previous Friday, I had attended an assembly to mark the 10-year anniversary of 9/11. California resident Mike Noble, who was in the South Tower during the attacks, recounted his experience on that horrible day. Thankfully, he survived, but it wasn't his near demise that stuck with me. What did were the iconic images of violence he recalled. Of course, being the man that I am, I didn't shed a tear.

The next morning, Saturday, was the ACT – my last opportunity to attempt to make this particular standardized test reflect my capability. No big deal. Sure, I was stressed, but crying wasn't even a remote possibility.

Sunday, September 11 was a good day. I finished most of my homework early, visited the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and stopped at my favorite burger joint on the way home. When I got home I was upset to find out that my fantasy football team had done terribly, but that certainly wasn't cause for tears.

I continued my day working in my room, and my mom paid me a visit. My mom and I have one of the best relationships in the world, and I love her dearly, but when she chews me out, she makes me feel terrible. I wasn't going to cry because of my mommy, though.

That evening, from the room down the hall, I heard the TV special on 9/11. I listened to George W. Bush and reporters and footage of the attacks. Then I heard a reporter say, “What stood as the Twin Towers is no longer recognizable; they're gone.”

I don't know what about that particular sentence pushed me over the edge, but my eyes started stinging and tears began to flow down my cheeks. My nose ran, and my cheeks burned. I wiped my eyes and sniffled once or twice, and maybe a minute later I was done. It passed, and I felt great – refreshed and wholesome.

I'm not sure why there is the taboo that forbids men from crying, but I decided there shouldn't be. That day I thought about crying and manliness, and how I didn't care. I thought of my friends and what they would say, and how I didn't care. I thought about what this means about me, and I decided that sometimes the best option is to just man up and cry.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.





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GabeKahan said...
Sept. 26, 2012 at 9:47 am:
Great writing, great story, great conclusion.
 
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