I had an epiphany the other day while on Facebook. One of my neighbors from childhood was recounting a story about my mom where she apparently went out of the house in her pajamas and yelled at someone who hit his car. That is not the point I want to address today, although it did reassure me about some crazy things I have done in my life. The point is that he described my mom as being all of four feet tall. And that immediately hits upon a sore point in my family. Our height.
Contrary to popular belief, my mom is actually five feet tall, and I am five foot two. My sister clocks right in between us at five foot one. It has been a constant fight between nature and us. There are some restaurants we just can't go to, because the tables and chairs are so high that our feet won't touch the ground. What tall people don't realize is that when your feet don't touch the ground you invariably start to swing them and then inadvertently kick people. If you're lucky you can prop yourself up by crossing your legs so you won't slide out of your chair. This will get you dirty looks on the subway because people assume you're being difficult and blocking the aisle but the reality is you are trying to keep from falling off the bench. Counters have never been at the right height for me unless I am wearing high heels, and since I am not June Cleaver I don't usually wear high heels to mash potatoes. At home we have this unique family holiday tradition born of necessity which we use when we are putting up the Christmas tree. We set up a circle of chairs around the base of the tree and my mom hops from one to the other in order to string the lights around the ten foot tree. We refer to this as the Christmas Tree Method.
It's not that I really hate tall people, I just generally don't trust them. I find I get along best with people who don't act as if the world is on their shoulders (I know this because it's obviously on mine). The tall people in the world labor under the delusion that great responsibility has been given to them to match their stature, and go about under constant burdens that only exist in their heads. I have news for them. They may have hit the genetics jackpot, but the gods do not confer authority and wisdom based on height. I hate the disbelieving looks they give me when I fight for the right to hold on to the subway rail that they have been using as a rest for their entire body. No, I can't just reach up and grab the bar along the ceiling. To do so would lift my feet off the floor of the car. If they had imagination they would realize this, but they don't, so I find I have little in common with them. These tall people are also responsible for the abysmal kitchen construction that makes the cabinets so high on the wall that I can only reach the bottom (and middle, if I'm lucky) shelves and have to resort to the Christmas Tree Method to bake a cake. I have become an expert at using spatulas to get things and then stepping out of the way as they fall to the floor.
There are good things about my height. I have to work very hard to bump my head in an airplane. I never have to worry about whether wearing heels will make me taller than my date. And I never have to try and shrink in photographs like I notice tall people doing. I just have to stand straight. I do try and exploit these benefits of my height. But if you happen to be tall, take a moment and appreciate how the world revolves around you. Think about the ease with which you open the cabinet doors in your kitchen and remember.