I have no clue how it happened ... but it most assuredly did.
There's no question my upbringing played a major role in it, but then again I'm convinced it has more to do with my basic character and personality than how my parents raised me. At least that's the story I'm sticking with.
What the H-E-double hockey sticks am I talking about? Those who know me well are aware of it, but the rest of man and womankind probably don't have a clue. So with that said, I think it's time I come clean and tell the whole world - or at least the readers of this publication.
It's not that I'm ashamed of it. Not by a long shot. In fact, it has served me quite well throughout the decades of my existence, and more often than not has garnered me sympathy hugs, or a pat on the back or perhaps a warm, friendly smile.
Not so surprisingly, people can relate to it quite well and seem rather empathetic toward any person who possesses the trait. And it's a given I'm not the only one. There are hundreds, nay thousands, perhaps even millions who can attest to the same disposition.
There's no question it is shared by more women than men, but that isn't meant as a slam on either sex. It's just that those of the female persuasion are generally more sensitive than their male counterparts. I said "generally" -- so don't get your underwear in a bunch.
OK, here goes: I'm a crier. As in boohoo. As in all choked up. I may not be in John Boehner's class, but I'm pretty darn close.
Trying to pinpoint when I first became aware of it is difficult, but I actually think I can come up with a pretty good estimate. It was in the late 1950s, and I went to see the movie "Old Yeller" with my cousin. A Disney classic by any standard, everyone knows the story of that lovable, mischievous Yellow Labrador and it remains one of my all-time favorites.
But when young Travis is forced to shoot Yeller because he has rabies, it was more than I could bear. I sobbed all the way home, and even writing about the movie right now makes me tear up.
About that same time, I saw another flick entitled "Song of the South" and was totally enchanted. I still sing "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" to this day when I need to pick my spirits up, and after seeing the film, I wanted to go visit Uncle Remus in the worst way. I was just six-years-old at the time and when my sister told me the beloved Uncle Remus wasn't real, I completely lost it. I'm talking deep, guttural moans folks. Pretty much inconsolable.
I don't even want to think about the movie "Rudy." I've probably seen it six times, and every time they pick him up and carry him off the field in triumph, I bawl like a baby. Well, maybe not a baby - it depends if I'm alone or not.
My tendency to turn on the waterworks isn't confined to the cinema. Hardly.
I consistently get a huge lump in my throat just trying to tell a story - and it doesn't have to be about a tragedy. It can be a joyous tale about someone who has beaten the odds and somehow managed to come out on top. It can be about a team, a group or a community that pulls together to achieve the seemingly impossible. Almost anything can set me off - it's rather unpredictable actually.
I've been known to cry during television commercials. I'll start weeping while reading a book. I even have a hard time while singing a particularly moving song. If I hear "Longer" (I've been in love with you) by Dan Fogelberg, I'm normally a basket case by the time it's over. And funerals? Forget about it.
I can also shed a few tears when something makes me exceedingly happy, or when I witness a good deed done by a good-deed doer. Again, it's pretty much unpredictable.
A classic example occurred last summer while I was sitting on my Cub Cadet peacefully mowing my lawn. I wear radio/stereo headphones in order to preserve my hearing, and more often than not before I'm finished a song will be broadcast that turns me to jelly.
I was cruising around the backyard on this particular afternoon when the tune "Roll On Mississippi" by Charlie Pride came on. Within seconds my eyes were red and my cheeks soaking wet as I sang along.
My wife, Sarah, saw me through the window and rushed out onto the deck to find out what was upsetting me. When I pointed to the headphones and yelled, "Roll On Mississippi," she just shook her head in an understanding way and went back inside.
I try my damndest not to break down in public, but sometimes I slip. So if you happen to meet me on the street or in the grocery store, and I look like I've been crying, don't worry about it. It's probably because I saw an elderly woman straining to push her cart and I felt really sorry for her ... or something of that nature.
It also could be because I'm thinking about Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger, or Dan Fogelberg, or the Mighty Mississippi or ... well, you get the idea.