Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Height of the Night

Over the years, I’ve been on the receiving end of quips and commentaries (usually from those I barely know and have no interest in getting to know) about my height. The assumption is that I must long to be much taller.

I’ve never known what they’re talking about. I love being short. There’s nothing for me up there. I’ve gotten out of and away with so very many glorious things, all because nobody could see me. I’ve only ever wished I were shorter.

Pretty much up until last night.

Before going out, I had to re-tailor my new jeans (for the 3rd time that day) with the garment-cutting scissors I’ve invested in for the exclusive purpose of chopping inches off the ends of my denim pants, so they don’t fall past my toes. Since I’m rarely drawn to the styles or prices of the jeans that stores carry in their “petite” sections, I don’t own any non-capri denim pants that look completely respectable, from top to bottom. And I would like to, without having to pose and pony up for the beleaguered-looking man with the sewing machine who works for my dry cleaner. It’s too bad I never listened to my mom when she tried to teach me how to do my own seamstressing. Short people need to know how to expertly hem for themselves.

I walked to the D train in my street-urchin slacks, with a slew of little white strands lightly tapping at my ankles. Who cares? I was on my way to see Ms. Ani DiFranco and her Come-As-You-Are kind of crowd!

I had a perfectly unobstructed view of center stage until the giant who was assigned to sit in front of me was shown to her seat. A fidgeting giant. The people who later sat in front of her were even taller. I had no window.

Much like Ani, I’m mellowing out as I age. Ain’t nothin’ I could or should do about this, besides coolly stare at the back of the giant’s head - which was as boring as it could get, given that this wasn’t a typical Ani audience. No purple hair or behind-the-neck tattoos. Just a sea of split ends and the unadorned fingers that twirled them. When she lowered her head onto the shoulder of the person sitting next to her, I wanted to hold it down and keep it there.

Ani’s about my height and she mentioned her newfound love for acupuncture and shiatsu, and how those practices can alter certain aspects of your body. “The next time you see me, maybe I’ll be taller,” she joked. At least I think she was joking. I heard the inflection in her voice and the sound of other people laughing. But I couldn’t see the expression on her face, and had already stopped trying.


  1. When I was a teenager, I was 5'7". (Having shrunk over the decades, I am now 5'5 1/2".) When I was a teen, I was "tall" for a woman. In fact, during a student summer in Mexico, I was gigantic compared to the people around me, to my great embarrassment. However, in recent years I have begun to feel downright short everywhere in the world. This is due partly to my shrinking, but also partly to the fact that the rest of the world seems to be growing taller by the minute. In my daughter's high school graduating class, several young ladies were six feet tall. One girl, I could understand. But five or six young ladies? And the men! I can cope with the idea of a man who is 6'2" -- but men who are 6'4" to 6'8"? No longer that uncommon.
    Someone told me a few years ago that the average American woman is still 5'1". I'm having trouble believing that.

  2. While I sympathize with your troubles, my own experiences of feeling like I was being trampled alive kept me plenty busy. Not only did I have a woman performing what felt like her own dance routine behind me at the Ani concert in question -- kicking my seat every few minutes, ruffling my hair accidentally, and then shifting ever so loudly -- but I had a repeat of this performance at the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular this year. This time it was a squirmy toddler who was passing the time by counting out the show tunes by tapping his feet on the back of my seat. Age and gender it would seem make no difference. And I'm not sure what I've done to deserve this kind of treatment, but karma is a bitch.