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crying towel An imaginary towel offered to the kind of person who chronically complains about ill fortune, minor defeats, or other adversities. The phrase can be used teasingly or judg-mentally, implying that one who needs a “crying towel” is unnecessarily wallowing in self-pity.
cry in one’s beer To overindulge in self-pity; to be inappropriately sentimental or maudlin; to feel sorry for one-self. This expression probably derives from the fact that many people tend to become sentimental, even teary-eyed, after a few drinks. The result of such self-indulgence is often sloppy behavior and a loose tongue.
cry on [someone’s] shoulder To reveal one’s problems to another person in order to get sympathy; to assail someone’s ear with one’s woes in an attempt to win pity or to get moral support. Although the image is of a distraught person literally crying in another person’s arms, the expression is usually used hyperbolically and sometimes with a sarcastic edge undercutting the seriousness or gravity of the situation.
eat one’s heart To suffer inconsolably; to have sorrow or longing dominate one’s thoughts and feelings; to be in a constant state of mental and emotional disquietude. Spenser used this expression in The Fairie Queene (1596):
He could not rest; but did his stout heart eat.
More common today is the expression eat one’s heart out. It is often heard as a playfully sarcastic command, very different in tone from the earlier serious version of the expression.
sob story See SENTIMENTALITY.