Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Tall Tales and (Not So) Short Stories

I honestly don't have any idea how it's taken me this long to post this. You'd think, given that I'm 6'7", I'd have made, ya know, mentioned this before. I might have in passing, but now felt like a good time to talk about the joys of being tall.

The most common thing that happens is that people will approach me in public and say, "You're really tall," as though I don't know that. It's then, inevitably, one of two things, "Do you play basketball?" or, "What are you, about 6'3"?"

For starters, the 6'3" bit is oddly specific and kinda far off. It's also bizarre how often people guess that. I mean, regularly, folks are guessing 4" shorter than I am. I do realize that for a lot of people, it's hard to tell much difference between about 6'3" and 6'7" (and maybe even more), but the fact that it's regularly 6'3" throws me for a loop.

I do understand the basketball thing. I get that given my generation, any tall person who's reasonably athletic would've likely played basketball. I did not play basketball in high school. The last time I played organized, competitive basketball was 8th grade. Usually when I tell people that I didn't play basketball they respond with, "Really?" When I tell them I played volleyball and tennis, they're kinda surprised, but it seems to help them make some sense of me.

Let's talk about some pure joys of being 6'7". Many older door frames are about 6'7". When I have shoes on, that puts me in a precarious situation (and my faux hawk doesn't help). People in the schools where I've worked through the years giggle at how I duck going through doors. I do it subconsciously, but I have smoked my head on some things I shouldn't have... I have a recollection of a black eye and small cut I got on a light fixture years ago.

Y'all ever go to the mall to find pants? Me too. You know what I leave the mall with? Disappointment. It would honestly help if I weighed another 50 pounds or so. "What about big and tall stores?" you say to yourself as you read this. See, that conjunction is AND. I am not AND, I am just tall. There is no big and/or tall store. I have found a few places that carry them online, but that can be a crapshoot. Big shoutout to The Buckle though, as they usually have the right waist-inseam combination for me. And their jeans are SUPER comfortable.

I guess jeans aren't the only problem. It's really hard to find stylish clothes that fit my body well. I'd either have to put on about 30 pounds of muscle, which is not something I'm sure I'm even capable of, or I have to settle with wearing clothes that are just a little on the baggy side. I'd love to have a pair of joggers cause people look really good in them, but not when the cuff either hits halfway down your calf or the crotch halfway down your thighs.

Cars. I heart them. However, the automobiles that we can buy are limited because of that inseam I mentioned before. Oh... and headroom. And that limitation costs us a LOT more money. For example, we bought a Buick Envision in 2017. We love it. Let's be clear. However, what we WANTED was more like the Buick Encore, but when my tall behind gets in that car and puts the seat where I'm even remotely comfortable, ain't no backseat room. Everett would not fit well. The least expensive cars are generally not an option for us.

It's not all bad. My height means I have a certain set of... skills. Ya know, like reaching high things or being SUPER easy to spot in crowds. It's also gotten me out of a couple of sticky situations.

I have a recollection of high school and RJ putting his hand in the middle of my back and pushing me through the sardine-packed halls of Centaurus. It basically worked. Crowds parted. We were never late to class. Having attended events like Great American Beer Fest in Denver, I was almost always the lighthouse for my group. I'd be easy to find.

I've also joked repeatedly at jobs that the only reason I've been hired or retained at a job is my ability to grab things on high shelves without a ladder. There's also basically nothing in my house out of reach. Yes, sometimes I need a step stool or ladder, but it's never big or ungainly. I'm very handy to have around for that reason.

Twice in high school, I didn't get in fights. I'm fairly passive when it comes to confrontation. I try to avoid it if possible. In high school, I had a couple of guys who thought it was funny to be big men by shoving me into various things (lockers, door frames, etc.). In each case, I'd either had a bad day, or just had enough of that dude that day and turned around and returned the favor, in each case asking a simple, "WHAT THE **CK?!" In both cases, neither spoke a word to me again in high school.

Referring back to the privilege entry from... before... I rarely feel unsafe. I acknowledge that my size is intimidating to many and definitely works to my advantage in a lot of cases.

I will say, the most frustrating thing about my height is the attention. I realize it's what I'm known for. However, I implore a couple things.

Number one, being tall is not some prize I've won. I didn't ask for it. Much the same as others with physical abnormalities often didn't ask for it. Please don't point out to tall folk they're tall. WE KNOW! If I looked at an obese person and public and said, "Oh my goodness, you're very fat! You must like cookies." I'd elicit all kinds of negative reactions, and rightly so. We know better than to approach strangers and point out things they have little or no control of.

The other thing that bothers me is when people say they want some of my height. Honestly, most of the time I love being 6'7" (about 200 cm for those who live in countries whose system of measurement makes good sense), but if there was a way to take about an inch above and below each dropping me to about 6'5", that'd still be fine... and make it easier to find pants and cars!

The worst for me, now that I think about it, is when people ask, "Did you get taller since the last time I saw you?" NO! I don't want to get taller.

Some of y'all may well read parts of this and see it as whining or complaining about something that others would love to have. Yeah, it's great much of the time, but there are other frustrations I haven't addressed in here.

I was 6'5" when I graduated high school, 6'6" when I graduated college and was measured about six months ago, I was 6'7 1/2". I was not thrilled and I will stick with 6'7".

The only part of me that stopped growing at reasonable size (Stop!) are my feet. I've been a 13 as long as I can remember, back to about middle school. That part is wonderful. I have fairly small feet for my height (I'm actually about a 12 1/2") which means I can find shoes pretty easily when I need to.

Sorry if this leaves you with a sense of... huh? Like, is that really how he finished this? I get it. This one felt like it needed to be out there, but I did it in two sittings (which actual writers would definitely think is a good idea, right?). I'm also deeply sorry I haven't been near as consistent lately. The ideas hit my while I'm driving, which makes it tough to record the idea. Hopefully this COVID-19 social distancing will make it easier.

Thanks for reading!