Rhodri Marsden: The word 'pickle' makes me cry – it's not a trait that women admire

Life on Marsden

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I cry a lot. Everything has the potential to transform me into a snotty-nosed wreck, from the predictable (swelling violins at the climax of a film) to the more unexpected (the word "pickle").

I've been like this since at least 1985, when I'd sit in my bedroom listening to The Cure and bawling my eyes out for no reason, although in retrospect it was probably because I was listening to The Cure. Tears are just a by-product of me experiencing an emotion, be it frustration, vengefulness, alienation or arousal.

Generally, this isn't a massive handicap. Antiques Roadshow set me off the other day – potentially embarrassing – but I just didn't tell anyone about it. If it happens in male company down the pub, I'll quickly leave the room while they say something like, "Ha! He's off again, let's steal his peanuts." Women generally interpret it as me being in touch with my sensitive side, although it's not so much "in touch with" as attached with industrial-grade duct tape and forced to take it with me on holiday.

But crying doesn't impress everyone. (You can test this theory by howling in misery and walking around Asda with your arms outstretched.) Female distaste for my crying has been rubber-stamped into my memory by three incidents. First was onstage in a Parisian squat in 1991; after getting a colossal electric shock off a microphone stand I collapsed in tears in front of a woman who gave a magnificently Gallic shrug.

Second: the time in Brighton where I drunkenly wandered around weeping at the loss of my bag, forgetting that I'd never actually been carrying a bag in the first place, while my then-girlfriend walked alongside me, laughing.

Third: my dubious decision to rent the film Withnail and I to see on a romantic-ish night in with someone new. During the closing scene where Withnail and I part company I blubbed, confidently. She looked at me and said, "Oh... I don't want to hurt you." N-no, I explained, I was merely moved by Richard E Grant's magnificent closing soliloquy. "Yes, but..." She shifted nervously. "I just don't want to hurt you," she said, again. Having identified me as a man unable to handle the emotional impact of light entertainment, she now considered me ill-equipped for the rigours of a sexual relationship. Next time, I thought, I'll rent Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior.

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