But they also wrote Whether you’re a brother, or whether you're a mother, you're staying alive, staying alive. So it’s probably best not to take them too literally at their lyrics. It might take you down some very strange paths.
But I am indeed a man, and that is indeed what I am. I am a sea of calm in an ocean of insanity. I am cool, I am ice. I am collected. I laugh in the face of danger, and I tickle the toes of fear.
When everything is falling around you, I am the one person you will come to because I am strong, butch, and manly. Yes I am. Now watch me wrestle this bear……
Now the above is what I have going round in my mind on a continuous loop. Every man does, even if it is not entirely true. It’s our man mantra. But every Superman has his nemesis. And mine is E.T. Not the little fella himself, but the movie.
E.T. is my kryptonite.
E.T. is my ultimate test of manliness and I fail it every time. I can’t be anywhere in the vicinity of that film without blubbing like a five year old who has just been told that Santa Claus has just murdered the Tooth Fairy, and then run off with all your birthday presents. It started from an early age, sitting down to watch it with my parents, and has followed me all throughout my adult life.
And I have tried; I truly have, to beat this affliction. They say the best thing to do is confront your fears, and I have tried to confront E.T. head on. But he always beats me.
I remember one time it was on at Christmas. I was on my own downstairs, my housemate being asleep upstairs at the time, when the TV announcer said that the afternoon film would be Spielberg's classic.
“This is it.” I thought, “This is the moment I finally become a man. I’m going to do this!”
So I sat down and made myself comfortable, mentally psyching myself up for the ordeal ahead. I thought about doing some press-ups, or some kick ass ninja moves before it began, just to prove how manly I actually was, but truth be told, I was feeling a little delicate that day. Then that familiar John Williams score started, and I once more lost myself in the world of Elliott and his best friend.
And I was strong. I was firm. I didn’t wobble at his repeated cries to “Phone home.” I was like a rock through the scene in the classroom when Elliott kisses his classmate because he was linked to what E.T. was watching on TV. I even stayed resolute at the moment the wee man dies and Elliott's heartbreaking cries of “Don't leave me!” (That's where I normally fold like a book)
“I’m actually going to do this,” I thought to myself, “Today is the day when I finally become a man!” I immediately grabbed the Argos catalogue to see if they sold chainsaws so I could build something manly with my shirt off.
And then it got to the point when the little bugger finally says goodbye before he is due to go home. The bottom lip started to wobble, the eyes became misty. And then the floodwaters broke. Niagara falls. It was at that point my housemate decided to wake up and come downstairs.
“Oh, you OK mate?” he asked me, concern in his voice.
“He’s gone home, “I cried, pointing at the screen. “E.T’s gone home!”
My housemate moved out soon after that.
But it’s not just E.T. that mounts a serious assault on my manliness. I am like this with any film with an emotional bit in it. I just can’t help myself.
American Beauty- Wept like a baby.
Titanic- I had to be helped from the cinema. “Jack can’t be dead! They were so good together!” All the 12 year old girls just there for Mr DiCaprio were made of sterner stuff than me. I could see pity in their eyes.
Armageddon- Normally any film where Bruce Willis dies is a massive bonus. In this one, yes, I got a bit teary. And I normally hate Areosmith.
Watership Down- Bright eyes, burning like fire…….
The list is never-ending. And now I have to watch myself for potentially embarrassing moments with my friends, or more importantly, my other half. If I know there could be a possibility that I could start crying at a film we plan to watch, I try to get out of actually watching it. But this doesn’t work all the time. Sometimes I could be watching something that I know nothing about, and all of a sudden an emotional bit comes up and I have to feign having hay fever (in winter), when all I want to be screaming out is “Yes! Yes I am an emotional man! The characters mother has just died, her brother has an incurable skin disease, and her cat has just run away. How do you expect me to react? Don’t hate me for feeling!” and then hide weeping under a cushion.
Quite recently, me and my girlfriend were flying back from Florida. One of the in-flight movies was Marley and Me. Immediately alarm bells were ringing in my head.
“Oh, that Marley and Me is showing. You wanted to see that, didn’t you?" Kate asked me.
“Meh?” I said, with a shrug. “I’d much rather see…” I replied, flicking through the movie channels “…Sex Drive.There, Sex Drive. That looks good.”
“Sex Drive? When have you ever liked films like that?”
“All the time!” I protested, “Wahey, tits!”, trying to do a passable impression of somebody who would like that sort of thing.
So we both settled down to watch our films. Mine was obviously complete tosh. But I kept glancing over at Kate’s, trying to gauge her mood. Having read the book, I fully knew what to expect with Marley and Me. I knew that the end of the film was near as Kate's shoulders were going, and she turned and looked at me with tears streaming down her face and said “Don’t you dare laugh at me!”
“There, there.” I said, putting a comforting arm round her, “It’s only a film. You shouldn't let silly things like that bother you.” Knowing full well that if it had been me watching it, I would have been banging on the airplane door in hysterical floods of tears, begging the pilot to turn the plane around so I could go back to America and pet every dog in the land and tell it that I loved it.
So, I cry at films. Big deal, doesn’t mean anything. I bet if you stuck Clint Eastwood down in front of WALL-E, even he would get a bit misty eyed at the bit where the tiny robot is waiting in the rain for E.V.E to wake up? Actually, Clint would probably get his shotgun and shoot the TV, then threaten to give me a metal enema with it unless I stopped being a “Pussy assed faggot.” But that’s Clint for you. The man’s just too emotional.