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Day 58: No Fears for Tears

I’m watching the body count rise in India, where so many died in 1918. Could this be the start of the Second Wave? It’s way too early. Dread the thought.

To its credit, the New York City Department Of Health & Mental Hygiene is reminding people that a second pandemic wave is inevitable. They’ve posted ads on subways and buses telling people to keep scrubbing their hands. (Unfortunately, these alternate with NYPD placards urging us to turn each other in, anonymously, for whatever.)


New Yorkers don’t want to read about microbes while they rock along, clinging to dirty poles and breathing one another’s breakfast. The overhead blurbs about hemorrhoid surgery and how to learn computers are nasty enough.

Torture comes in waves, too. You can be heroic the first time. It’s when the brutes come back with tongs or electrodes or hoses that your imagination starts to work against you, anticipating whatever they haven’t done yet. You torment yourself on their coffee breaks. By the third round, you’ll invent anything they wish to hear.

Romance also circles back. It was so cool kissing Val that by the time I got home, I was drowning in memories of Nina. I was stirred and sad after a few moments of intimacy with someone. Still, I think knowing Nina was good for me. No regrets.

I do feel wretched about having upset Anna at Ric’s reopening. As much as anyone I know, she’s earned the right to relax, rejoice in her own survival. Having seen her cry twice, I can report that it’s an impressive sight. Tears assemble atop her cheekbones like imperial phalanxes, ready to wash away any rebels below.

Fortunately for Anna, crying reduces tension. A study compared the chemical content of tears from women who cried for emotional reasons with that of tears stimulated by onions. The emotive drops contained high levels of neurotransmitters and hormones linked to stress. Shedding tears lowered blood pressure and pulse rates, smoothed brain waves. Crying supports the immune system, memory, and appetite.

My stepmom always says men stew in our own juices. Now I think she means we don’t cry. According to this report, it turns us off when women tear up. (That hasn’t been my experience.)

I always wish I could comfort Anna. I hope something—or someone—does.


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