Don’t Cry Out Loud

I was about nine-years-old that Easter. I had pleaded and begged the Easter Bunny, or more succinctly his appointed designates — my parents — for a copy of Melissa Manchester’s ‘Don’t Cry Out Loud’ vinyl 45. I had it in good faith that it would be nestled in the green plastic Easter grass that morning, but I couldn’t wait until then …

I crept downstairs from the bedroom I shared with my brother, careful to step on the outside of the staircase where it creaked the least. I tiptoed towards the living room in my footed pajamas slowly, as if I was creeping through the hedgerow of Normandy on the morning before D-day. En route, I unearthed hidden eggs, sure to get an edge on Christofer.

There were two baskets in the living room, each strewn with jellybeans, and chocolate eggs, and each containing one vinyl EP: Barry Manilow’s ‘Copocabana,’ and Melissa Manchester’s ‘Don’t Cry Out Loud.’

I struggled to stifle my joy, turned, and headed back for my bedroom. But there, standing between me and the stairwell in his tattered brown robe, stood my father. And he was very, very disappointed.

When the rest of my family woke up later Easter morning, I made my terrible, teary confession. I sat out the East egg hunt, ashamed.

In the thoroughly enjoyable, deep and simple comic adaptation, ‘Hellboy,’ young FBI agent John Myers asks, “What makes a man a man?”

I say that we are made of our choices.

How many do we make a day? One hundred? One thousand? And how are we to know the ones that really, really matter?

Riding in a cab on Central Park West from the Goldner family seder tonight, I thought of that Easter morning some twenty years ago. And I thought of my father’s visit just this weekend. I behaved impatiently, and was even just a little grumpy. It wasn’t a conscious choice. It just was.

But every day, every second, we make choices.

“What makes a man a man?” Agent Myers asks. “It’s the choices he makes. Not how he starts things, but rather, how he decides to end them.”

There’s another chance yet.

Choose wisely.

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