Home > Movies, Sports > Not a dry eye in the house

Not a dry eye in the house

For the last 16 years, I’ve worn contacts on and off to compensate for my mild myopia. Usually, I have no problem with the little buggers, but for the past few years, the pollen season in North Carolina has gotten the best of me. In April, my eyes often feel like two sandpaper orbs in an acid bath. In other words, not comfortable.

My eye doctor dismisses the problem as “dry eye syndrome.” Much like the upcoming feature film Snakes on a Plane starring Samuel L. “Motherf**king” Jackson, this affliction is pretty much easy to figure out. My eyes… are… dry. But, there’s more to it than that. Turns out my tear ducts just aren’t doing the job anymore, and as a result, my contacts become these dry disks of plastic on my eye.

I’ve done everything possible to solve the problem. Eye drops help for about five minutes, but the dryness comes back. The eye quack also prescribed some anti-allergy eye drops, but they were essentially just really expensive Visene drops. There is a chance, though, that my boss will drop by my office after an application, leading her to believe that I’m cracking up. That’s usually good for a hassle-free day at work.

I tried other… um… non-traditional things. Like a quick thump to the eye to see if that would induce tears. It sounds much more painful than it is, but it sometimes works. But the best thing I could find: watch a good, teary movie.

Now, I’m a guy… and a sports nut at that. So, if I want to watch a movie that gets the old tear ducts flowing, I can always watch a great sports film with a nice, emotional ending. Sure, it might be a slam-dunk to watch Terms of Endearment or even Michael Keaton’s weeping opus, My Life (which I swear was pitched to the studio executives as the movie that would bring any man to his knees… the male version of Beaches or Steel Magnolias, as it were).

Take the other night. It was a Friday night, about 11 p.m., and I got into bed and channel surfed for a bit. Bingo! I found Pride of the Yankees on AMC. This biopic of Lou Gherig is a certifiable three-hanky flick. Sure, it’s a bit hokey… the dialogue between Lou (Gary Cooper) and his wife (Teresa Wright) is quintissential 1940s, overtly snappy patter… Cooper is to baseball skills what George W. is to the art of oration.

But the story. Oh my god. Sure, you know what’s coming. He’s Lou Gherig, after all. The disease carries his name. He’s not going to get the sniffles. But, as you see this strong, tireless man who always showed up and took the field gradually lose his basic physical abilities – it’s just heartbreaking. And Gary Cooper is freakin’ Gary Cooper… he owns the screen. Teresa Wright plays the adoring wife with ease. Walter Brennan even has fourth billing (behind Babe Ruth, who played… Babe Ruth).  Brennan plays the same role he always plays, just this time as a sportswriter, not a cowboy.
The final scene — where Lou says that “the luckiest man on he face of the earth” — just turns on the old waterworks. So, that night, as I just sat in bed… and the room got very, very dusty. Sure enough, the next morning, my contacts felt great. Gary Cooper: 1. Dry eye: 0.

So, I thought about expanding my “therapy.”  I started cataloging great sports weepers, and they seem to fall into two categories:

  1. Underdog stories where the hero (or anti-hero) has no business suceeding, yet he/she overcomes all of the odds, ultimately leading to a cathartic, emotional ending.  Best in class: Rudy and Hoosiers.
  2. Hero overcomes adversity, usually a physical impairment or illness, leading to a cathartic, emotional ending.  Best in class: the aforementioned Pride of the YankessBrian’s Song, and the less well-known Bang the Drum Slowly.

Of course, one great sports movie, Field of Dreams, doesn’t fit either of these catalogs.  I guess, “Building a baseball diamond in a cornfield to resolve daddy issues” is a rather odd sub-genre.  But watch that ending with any red-blooded American male.  If they don’t tear up, they’re emotionally dead inside.

At some point, I might write more — sometimes in excrutating detail — about one these movies. For now, I gotta go.  Rudy has been on heavy rotation on HBO this weekend. It could really improve my eye comfort tomorrow.

Categories: Movies, Sports
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  1. November 3, 2006 at 3:18 pm

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