Thursday, October 01, 2009

Tall Boy

I have always liked to think that I am free of the deadly sin of vanity. Not that I walk around with my shirttail out and my hair unwashed, face not shaved and generally disheveled. I change my clothes every day and make sure that I look presentable, at least.

I have never been much of a prize to look at, as evidenced by my entire school career starting in second grade and my unrequited like of a certain girl. Happened a lot. I was always a lot better at bending an ear than turning heads.

And I am OK with that. No big deal.

In light of all these things, I determined that I was utterly devoid of narcissism. A fact that I was proud of.

One day, however, I was laid low. I was devastated to have a flaw pointed out shamelessly and unabashedly by the smallest person in the office. A mere lass just under five feet tall. Indignity.

The video guy for the college came in and said “howdy” to the Publications Office folks. He is a tall fellow, six feet, three inches or so. At least. He stood around and talked to us for a bit, then he bade us adieu and exited. Tiny little Diana, her real name, said casually, “You always stand up really straight when Keith comes in…and Kris and Mike, too, I’ve noticed.”

Thud. “WHAT? What are you talking about? No I don’t…” I knew in my heart of hearts that she was right. All of the guys she mentioned were at or above the 75 inch level, which is the exact height that I attained as a 15 year-old lad. Could it be that I was worried about someone being taller than me?

The answer came back, “Yes.” Since I reached my full adult height, I have liked the altitude that I carry around. People look up to me, whether they respect me or not. I am used to seeing over almost everybody’s head. I relish changing light bulbs without standing on anything. Being taller than 97% of the population puts you in a position that I happen to like. My cousin used to be the tallest in the family at six feet even. When I shot past him to my current 5 feet fifteen inches, his theory was that since I was from Texas City, the polluted air caused me to mutate and thus my overall height surplus. That’s OK, Mike, I’ll take the three inch mutation.

I also figured out that I am uncomfortable with someone being taller than myself. I have actually gone so far as saying that I don’t like people taller than me. That’s not really true; I am just not accustomed to looking up at someone. In reality I like hanging out with other tall guys; we can commiserate about small cars, low couches and ducking under ceiling fans the way people duck under helicopter blades.

So, I haven’t worried that my hair turns gray, or if my laugh lines show, or if my hairline recedes. Those of you who know me or have at least seen me are aware that I don’t really care that I have gained some weight in the past 24 or 25 years. I just don’t want to get shorter. Spinal compression is my enemy these days. And I don’t want to end up like this:

Twenty years ago, when I was an early employee at the college, there was an office party with everyone including the chancellor in attendance. He was the first basketball of the college and a tall old fella. He was over six feet tall, but had the older guy stoop to his shoulders and his neck was a little thrust forward. On greeting me, he asked me how tall I was, grinning. I answered that I was six feet, three inches tall. He replied, “Oh no, you’re taller than that! I’m six foot three…” I was smart enough to shut up and grin. I wanted to say, “No Dr. S—, you USED to be six foot three, spinal compression got ahold of you, and now you’re just shorter.”

I don’t wanna have to overestimate peoples’ height when I get old, I just want my stature quo.


Howlsatmoon said...

Six Bucks an Nuthin' here boss. Used to be one of the tallest folkes at the mall.

Now it seems the young'un are getting taller.....sheesh.

Anonymous said...

Nice Work - admitting you have a problem is the first step toward getting help - I'm sure there is a 12-step program for you.
And a sidenote: that Dr. S___ you mentioned had a few vanity issues he should have dealt with. Oh yea, I knew him!

innominatus said...

Back in college I was a legit 6'2" but now I'm barely 6'1". Makes me want to strap weights to my ankles and hang from the rafters. But knowing me, I'd just dislocate something before I stretched enough for it to be worth it.

aA said...

Innominatus: Start hanging first, THEN put the weights on in a week or so. I hear that it actually works

Pathfinder: You sure did know the man, and you have lots more and better stories than this one!

Wollf: I really don't like the young ones much anyhow, tall or short.

invigilator_tex said...

People still look up to ya, Lurch. Even if you're losing verticality.

Anonymous said...

Even your big sister looks up to you....

Falcon said...

6'3", is that all????? Come on by sometime and I'll let you know what it feels like to be tall!!

(6'4")Falcon. or Lurch, or Big-un, or tall boy, or Big ugly, or etc....

aA said...

Falcon, I was wondering when you would drop by and let the world know that you exceed my maximum stature by a (mere) inch.

I wonder if you have put a tape to your claim lately? Spinal compression is the enemy of all of us tall fellers, and if your spinal compression is faster than my spinal compression, then you may not be that much taller than me...

Anonymous said...

Hey big daddy - your next rant should be about finding shoes for "us" tall guys. It seems to be another problem and my shoe size isn't compressing!

DammitWomann said...

Hmmmmm - who knew that men had height-envies..... LOL