One of the things that being on vacation for two weeks allowed was the chance to catch up on all that television that I might otherwise have worked or slept through. I stayed up past my bedtime a number of nights watching things that I might never have made the time for if I didn't have a job. In particular, I stumbled on a favorite from my distant past: "The Comic" starring Dick Van Dyke. It took me back to a time when the TV I watched was in my parents' basement, and as a teenager I made a practice of taking in whatever the Late Late Movie offered me. I have a very distinct memory of watching Dick, as silent film comedian Billy Bright, cavort about until too many women and too much drinking brought him low. It was a period piece, made in 1969, and watching it a decade into the new millennium made it even more so. It was made at a time when hair, makeup, and polyester still shone through the trappings of the 1920's. But it didn't matter. It was a tragic story of a clown who was laughing on the outside and crying on the inside. I was hooked then, and some thirty years later, I watched every frame all over again.
Which had the effect of making me reflect on all the morose and maudlin entertainments that I have perused over the years. I love a good sad song, for example. This is especially tricky, since I am the son of a man who got weepy every time he heard "Amazing Grace," or "Stars and Stripes Forever." I was drawn to films like "Bless The Beasts And The Children," with its misfit kids and tragic ending. I sat in the theater with my father until the lights came up after a showing of "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest," until our eyes were dry. It was even worse fourteen years later at the end of "Field of Dreams." Three years after that, I moved to California where I started my own little family, and I married a woman who is even more prone to shedding a tear than I. She cried at Ross's wedding on "Friends," all three of them. It's a wonder she had anything left for Monica and Chandler, but she managed.
And so it goes. Vacation's over and I can get back to the serious business of teaching and raising a son, looking forward to those moments we will share, laughing through the tears.