Losing Control – X Rated

losing control. X-ratedHow often do you let go of your emotions?

 If you could lighten up a bit, would you let yourself laugh more?

Or cry more?

I used to lose control –  emotionally –  when I was younger, and thus was embarrassed many times, particularly back when I didn’t have the discipline we “adults” are expected to display.

I cringe when I recall times I’ve “lost it,” so to speak.

Movies are a prime example.

Before I knew myself better, I’d watch movies that destroyed me. I’m reluctant to give an example, but since I’m trying to lose control a bit, here goes…

WEST SIDE STORY

West Side Story

Maria sings to Tony in
West Side Story.

Pitman NJ, theaterSenior year of high school, best friend Karen and I walked to our little town’s century-old theater to watch the “old” movie that had been released over a decade earlier. I was told it was a musical, thus, I figured, light-hearted and fun.

  • Until the fight between the Jets and the Sharks.
  • Then Tony and Maria’s deep passionate love.
  • And then the death.

I cried out loud – big, gulping ugly ripped-from-my-gut sounds that I could NOT stop, no matter how hard I pressed my hands into my stomach and bit on my tongue.

My wrenching sounds escalated, louder and louder, until Karen finally rushed me out of the theater – pale, exhausted, and mortified.

Perhaps for that reason we decided the following week to go to the X-rated theater in the larger, more “unknown” town next to ours.

  • #1 – I’d be safe – no crying expected, plus I’d run into no one who knew me.
  • #2 – what did X-rated really mean? At that time, movies had no ratings except for X.

X-rated movieWe snuck in 10 minutes after the movie began, trying to ignore the sleazy-looking men staring at us. Thankfully, the ugly movie theater (which appeared more like a warehouse from the front) was dark, Dark, DARK inside.

Five minutes after we slunk into our seats. Karen began laughing. I closed my eyes tightly when  my first gurgle of a giggle joined hers. By the time the lady’s boobs were bouncing across the screen, we were laughing so out-of-control that the manager (brown suit, messy mustache, small eyes) came over to our seats and asked us to leave.

“Gladly,” Karen replied sweetly, but she was laughing so hard I don’t think he heard her.

Which brings up the time I “lost control” with my first boss. I was the book editor for a small medical publishing company – a huge job acquired soon after I got my M.A. in English.

That degree did not prepare me for the deadline-stresses, with authors demanding their books ASAP, printers demanding more time to produce the book, and my boss demanding to know why we were off schedule.

One evening, 15 minutes after the work day was supposed to be over, I walked into the boss’s office. K was known as a “hard-ass”: rigid, non-smiling, demanding. Only 41 years old, his hair was as white as snow, and his eyes just as cold when I told him that Joe down at the off-set printing “basement” had messed up the title page. The book would be days late now.

I quivered when I told K the news. He stared me down until I almost sank to my knees. But then his thin lips started moving even though he didn’t say a word.

Suddenly, he leaned back, holding tightly onto the arms of his chair, and began to laugh. Softly at first, but then louder, and LOUDER.

I felt my own stomach muscles begin to shudder, and before I knew it, I was laughing along with the hard ass.

We laughed for a decade.

Then for a century.

We laughed so long and so hard, tears began to stream down our faces.

We had totally lost control.

Finally, the laughter turned to chuckles, and then the chuckles to slanted smiles.

“What the hell,” K said. Or maybe he asked it.

“I know,” I answered.

The book was printed a week late.

The author recovered from her fury.

And K and I became fast friends.

Losing Control  – x-rated in the minds of many.

But I’m wondering . . .

children laughing, brothers

…is losing control really so bad?

47 thoughts on “Losing Control – X Rated

  1. Oh I can so relate! I was taken to the cinema by my sisters to see the Never Ending Story when I was young, and balled my eyes out when the beautiful white horse started sinking into the bog…And when I was at Uni and stage managing a show I lost it at a guy who hadn’t followed my instructions when flying in scenery. I swore, I shouted, I’d caught him in a stairwell and we soon had a crowd as audience (witnesses?)…in fact losing it at college/uni was known as ‘having a harula’! Oh and then there was…and if I…but no, that’s enough! Great post Pam – thanks for the laughter, tears and reflection. Huge hugs, H xxx

    • “Having a Harula” – no way. So hard to believe, but, hey the guy deserved it, I’m sure. I realize (particularly after all the remarks here) that we writers are sensitive people (that’s a given) but therefore we are also very emotional people. And I think that’s a good thing!

  2. Oh, can I identify with this! I have been thrown out of our Broadway Theater twice. Both times with my bff, Ellen. The first time at West Side story – they must have gotten tired of removing teenage girls – because Ellen was doing the gulping sob thing and the second was Shenandoah, the Civil War, Jimmy Stewart movie where all his sons go to war – that was my turn for noisy crying….We took ourselves out of Disney’s original The Incredible Journey because animal movies are the worst for losing control and Old Yeller has to be the standard for losing it….

    • Don’t you wonder if you and I were at the same showing of West Side Story? What are the odds?! And my very first movie was Old Yeller in that theater with my parents. I didn’t know until the end of that movie how much it HURTS to cry. Didn’t recover for hours. I think you and I should never go to a movie together.

  3. The film Goodbye Mr Chips has me losing my dignity even when I know it’s coming. When it was on at home I always left the room to make a cup of tea so nobody hear Dad sniffle over the noisy kettle.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

  4. Oh, how I can relate! My sister and I used to get tickled in english class, until the teacher stared us down—I’m not good with grammar to this day!
    And a best friend could get me tickled in church—that was really bad!

    But I agree that losing control every now and then may be a good thing. My sister and I still have laughing fits along the way. 🙂

    Thanks for reminding me to lighten up occasionally.

    • Laughing fits are one of the best things in the world. Truly. Boy do I remember my friend and me in high school World History. It hurt, trying to not laugh. So, like you with grammar, I’ve never had a good grasp of world history…!
      You and your sister are very lucky.

  5. Interesting post. I guess sometimes we have to let go or explode. I’m especially interested in the laughing jags. Nerves can do that as well. I can’t think of any instances, but I’m there were some even for me. ❤ ❤ ❤

  6. I remember the times earlier in my life when a movie, an experience, or a song would bring the emotions out of me and into the world freely – tears, laughter, goose bumps.

    Somewhere along the way, the internal callouses were built up so thick in the name of adult responsibility that those emotions began to recede into the depths of my being. It was not a conscious decision. It just began to transpire as though it was something every person did – like a rite of passage to becoming a well-functioning adult. I couldn’t have been any more wrong.

    Those moments of losing control have begun to reappear in my life, and there is in reality nothing better. To be able to feel and express without inhibition is what living is is all about. That’s why two of my most important guiding principles have evolved as authenticity and vulnerability. They serve me well in my writing as well as my daily life when I allow them to make their presence known.

    I attended a concert this past summer. I attended alone because no one in my circle had the same appreciation for this artist as I did. Although I have been touched my music before, I never expected to be transformed on that evening. I remember a performance during that concert where everything stopped – time seemed to stand still. I entered some sort of alternate universe where the music engulfed me. It was only the applause of the crowd around me at the completion of the song that brought me back into the “real” world. I had tears running down my cheek.

    We all need these moments – whether it’s from a concert, a movie, a book, a two hour discussion with someone close to you, a funny experience, or whatever it is that shakes your insides to allow true emotions to escape. In a rather ironic way, I think that we gain more control of our inner selves when we allow ourselves to lose control every so often. Love, love, love this post 😉

    • So well said ! Our “internal callouses” stopped our huge emotional bursts, which I guess made life easier, but I don’t know about better. Like you, my moments of losing control are returning. A little scary, but a good thing. Love your lost control in the concert – I did the same thing at a Paul McCartney concert. How silly is that? But sure felt good.

      • Funny, I felt the same way – silly for losing control. I think that’s where I need to focus on a paradigm shift. Instead of feeling silly about losing control, I need to welcome it and embrace it when the opportunity and/or need arises 😉

  7. I remember crying in my 20’s while watching Kramer vs Kramer. It was the scene where Billy had to go back to his mother. He and his dad made their usual breakfast. Billy dropped the French toast into the pan. Dustin Hoffman did his part in making breakfast. I looked back to the beginning when the wife left and Billy and his dad were trying to make breakfast and it was a mess. Now, they were in sync. They were a getting it done. Then, Billy had to leave to go live with his mother. I’ve never cried while watching a movie since.

    I’ve cried while watching Sea Rescue when an animal they tried to save dies. I remember an old episode (2008) when they tried to save Dennis the Manataee. He was in Massachusetts, which was far too cold for him. He was barely moving in the water and his core body temperature was too low. The Sea Rescue team were on their way to Florida, where it was warmer. He died after a 20 hour drive. They were almost there. Some of the people on the team were crying. They were in a big truck and the women had kneeled in the corners and turned their backs to the camera. I assumed they were crying. I know I was. It was sad to see them put forth so much effort, scrambling for a vehicle and supplies and to drive that long straight through to get him to a warmer climate. Then, he was gone. I think the town in Massachusetts put up a memorial for him. If I’m not mistaken, the town was called Dennis, which is why they named him that. My daughter didn’t want to watch Sea Rescue for a while after that.

    As far as laughter, I laugh all the time. My daughter and I crack up and cry when we laugh sometimes. We laugh until we can’t breathe. She’s 8 and has a great sense of humor.

    • You are so fortunate to have that special mother-daughter bond where you both can just ‘let go.’ My daughter is much like me, so she stopped watching movies (unless Disney) years ago (and she’s in her early 30s!!). Animal shows?? Fergettaboutit. No way, no how. This may sound funny, but I think even my dog and I have cried together. 🙂

  8. Losing control can be very good for you. I still cry at movies, many of them. Even if I´ve seen them before, I still cry. My hubby brings a box of tissues when we start a movie he knows I will make me cry. A also love a good out of control laugh!

    • You have an understanding hubby. He’s a keeper! Mine gets anxious when I start crying (movies/commercials/TV shows). He wants to do something to help me stop, but sometimes, a girl’s just gotta cry!
      And yes, a good out-of-control laugh makes the soul sing.

  9. I hate it when the sad/touching parts of the movie come at the very end; theatres have this nasty habit of slamming the lights on the instant the credits start to roll. I have no time to recover my manliness!

    “Dangit!” I always want to shout. “I need a moment here!”

    • Ah Ha! I wonder if YOU were the one sitting behind me a month or so ago in that movie theater?
      Just kidding. But it does give a sense of community, hearing other snifflers in the dark of the theater, all around.

  10. I hold my emotions in way too much. This is a good reminder to let them out. Especially sorrow. I cry every single time I watch West Side Story (and Terms of Endearment). I try to hold it in, but why?? I need to just let it out. That’s what emotions are for, right?

  11. Ok…. So first of all, I stay away from movies (for the most part) that I KNOW will make me cry. If it is a sappy love story, or I know people are going to die (which always seems to happen in stupid sappy love stories) or based on a true story that may or may not have a happy ending, ie Titanic, I will avoid them. I also stay away from anything having to do with kids or animals like War Horse where you KNOW the animal is abused. I just can’t handle it! 😦
    BUT once in a while I am caught off guard and I will cry at the dumbest things. ie… the movie Australia with Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman *takes a moment to fan face* Whew! Uhm… where was I? Oh yes… when they make the cows jump off the cliff because they were made to stampede by the bad guys! I was sooooooo upset! How crazy is THAT? Hubby tried to calm me down by saying “Honey, you do realize those are not real cows?” To which I replied through tears “I DON’T CARE! That was so mean! poor cows!”
    Then I also cried when the Lion died in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe! Again…fictitious, animated animal! Didn’t matter…. I will say, that time was because of the symbolism. As a Christian, that particular scene is reminiscent of the “cross” so I think that is why it got to me. But still… really??? LOL!
    But one of my favorite movies where I laughed until I cried, to the point I missed stuff on the screen was Monsters Inc! LOVE that movie!! 🙂
    “Put that thing back where it came from or so help me…so help me…” “Kiittty!” 😀

    • The neat thing is that I’m smiling (and/or tearing up) as I read the description of the scenes that ‘got’ to you. I’m right there with you. My guy says the same thing, rather exasperated…”But it’s not REAL.” Darn tooten it’s real. All the hurt and sadness dramatized on shows come from a real place. Sigh.
      I’ll have to try out Monsters Inc. I need a good laugh!

  12. The bonds of laughter! Nothing like that belly ,tear, can’t stop giggling lose control feeling!Thank you for the great reminder!

  13. Great post. I totally understand. I can cry over just about anything and avoid all sad movies, books, TV shows, Anything about animals “gets me.” I do wish there were a cure for having a soft heart..

    But laughter is a good thing and it surely made your story a lovable one with the recounting of laughing with your boss. I love this post.

    • No! Don’t ever have your soft heart hardened. Your heart is what makes you so great! All of us ‘sensitive types’ – we need to cry and laugh more, that’s what I think.
      However, like you, I really have to pick and choose what shows I watch. “Losing control” can be a bit embarrassing. :-0

    • YOU DO THAT TOO?? I notice people on the streets looking at me, but truly, if a funny thought comes to my head as I’m walking along, am I supposed to not giggle out loud?
      Keep the laughter going, Roy!

  14. Movies and music can make me lose control – I get very emotional and weepy, sometimes. “Les Miz” – I cried through the entire show the first two times I saw it. My husband swore he wouldn’t see the movie with me for that reason. He relented. And I cried. A lot. BUT at the end of the movie, there were a lot of sniffles, not just mine.

    My husband was even a bit teary-eyed as we left the theater.

    Enjoyed the story about you and your boss. Laughter makes for fast friends. 🙂

    • Hi Kate! Oh yes, Les Miz does that to me too. I saw the musical twice with my guy (London, NYC), but he refused to go to the movie with me (I guess my gulping sobs can be a bit too much). So I drove to a Sunday early matinee (10 a.m.) where the audience was light, so I could lose control without too much embarrassment.
      I don’t laugh as much in movies, but how I love laughing with a friend (or even a hard ass). 🙂
      To much laughter in your 2015.

  15. Love this story. As a teen I didn’t do the crying thing, but the laughing bit? Omigosh. I was awful. I disrupted the school library I don’t know how many times!

  16. Great post, Pam. I can’t remember the last time I had one of those Laughing jags…talk about “internal calluses” (love that term)…Yet when I was a child I would laugh like that…my friends and I would say we had “laughing gas”…

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