Sunday, April 01, 2007

An Essay on Elevation

"So, how tall are you anyway?"

That's the question I am asked the most. The latest example occurred this morning at church. It's a question that I'm asked a lot, and to be honest, I rarely mind. To me, I don't feel tall, but I tend to forget that my height is the first thing most people notice about me.

Some people have made the point that questions like that would be rude if put in reverse.

"So, how short are you? Anyway?" or "Soo! How's the weather down there, haw haw?"

People in Wal-Mart have asked me to help with items on the top shelf. And this was before a brief summer employment with Wal-Mart! Before that, I scoffed at the signs encouraging customers to ask for help with items on top shelf.

But it's that "anyway?" that gets me. What do you mean, ANYWAY? As if I was running around, leaping to and fro and hollering "I'm tall! I'm six feet, six inches tall! WAY taller than you all! Ha ha!" and finally, the irritated dwarf next to me snaps "How tall are you anyway?"

Someone sharing a similar scalp solstice (say that with a mouthful of crackers) once remarked (and I concurred) that the two most frequently-asked questions asked are "How tall are you?" and "Do you play basketball?" He remarked that perhaps he should have a T-shirt made with the words "Six-foot six and No" on the front, thus dispensing with the need to respond when next questioned.

My answers would have been the same, until just recently. I joined a church basketball league, so now my answer will be different from the one I've been giving for the last several years. (I think I was picked for my height alone, since I am still a good head or two above the other players on the team, even though these guys are far more skilled. But I'm grateful for the chance to develop some otherwise raw talent.)

And it may be handy to be tall, but it has its disadvantages, so don't be envious.

Finding shirts, for example. Have you ever been inside a "Big and Tall" shop? Guess what that means? Threads for Fatso. A lot of the shirts I try on billow about my abdomen, having been manufactored for gentlemen with significant padding in that region.

Shoes are another challenge. My shoe size can be either 15 or 17, depending on which brand. ("Do they come with oars?" quipped a fellow at a skeet range once.) But you can just forget about walking into a standard shoe store and asking to see a pair of men's hiking boots in a size 16. Big-footed males are discriminated against in this country.

So the next time someone towers over you, if you have to know how tall he is, leave off the "anyway." Or else he might kick you with his size 17's.

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