For Paul Kidwell, boys’ night out means staying in and having a good cry with his buddies.
You’d think that a bunch of middle-aged guys would have better things to do than to get together every couple of months and shed tears over the likes of Colin Firth, Andie McDowell, Anthony Hopkins, and Hugh Grant. Particularly this group of married chaps who, while being mostly Alpha in maleness, all share a soft spot for those movies that have chicks, megaplex rather than dudes, in mind. While their counterparts are sitting in rapt attention watching the latest action or sci-fi flick at the local, or relishing their umpteenth viewing of The Godfather (an activity I wholeheartedly endorse), our group finds joy in viewing the wee movies that are short on action, but long on emotion.
We all came together in serendipitous ways—never imagining that we would find brotherhood in a shared delight for movies where the man is both anti-hero and hero. Although he usually gets the girl in the end, the manner in which he arrives at this denouement can best be described as “bumbling.” I knew Jeremy as a good friend of my accountant, who knew Jeff, who landscaped his lawn, who married the sister of his cousin’s former college roommate, Andy, who played high school basketball with Philip. Much like the male characters in the movies we all find appealing, we all bumped into each other without warning and fanfare. The fact that we all sought out those quiet moments to watch films like Notting Hill, Love Actually (our Christmas tradition and the group’s answer to It’s A Wonderful Life), Crush, and While You Were Sleeping, well, it’s a guy thing.
What draws us to these movies is not the beauty and the talent of the actresses (although, as a side benefit, it ranks right up there) who typically get top billing in these films. These stories have become their own genre by turning the tables cinematically, allowing the girl to take the lead in the story and get the guy, and not the reverse. I suppose we all daydream about being approached or seduced like the young church organist in Andie McDowell’s Crush, waking up to find that Sandra Bullock became smitten with you while you slept, or having the likes of Julia Roberts object to you getting married. All men should be so lucky. Yes, to us five guys, women like these are heroic. Of course, this is not to say that the men are without their own brand of inner strength.
Heroes? I’ve got your heroes. How about Colin Firth’s singularly Romeo-esque marriage proposal in Love Actually, Hugh Grant’s last-minute plea for a normal love affair with a not-so-normal girl in Notting Hill, or Anthony Hopkins’ tender father-son moment in Shadowlands, as he mourns the loss of his wife? Trust me, when this group watches these scenes, there’s not a dry eye in the house. In fact, as I write this, I struggle to push back my own tears as I recollect past viewings.
For three years, we came together every month or so with hearts on our sleeves and handkerchiefs in our hands for an evening of male bonding. It’s clear that we all enjoyed the time we spent collectively, relishing some home-cooked food and a movie, not afraid of having a good cry or two.
Of course, sometimes life intrudes and even the best of things must end. About a year ago the group disbanded as family, career, and geography got in the way of us having a longer run. But I miss the opportunity to bond with men of like minds, not afraid to be moved by this type of movie and dip their hands into a box of Kleenex from time to time. I am hoping that I can resurrect the group here in Boston. I mean, what’s a good movie without a sequel, right? Crying Guys: the Tears Continue.
So, if you see yourself as this type of man and are interested in helping me restart this band of bawling brothers, drop me an email. For you men in other cities that are so inclined, I encourage you to form your own local group (do I smell a movement?) of Crying Guys. After all, we’re just boys being boys, “standing in front of a girl, asking her to love him.”