So, while at…ahem…well, full adulthood, let’s say…I stand at a proud four foot ten, or at least that’s what I think. I don’t know. I don’t care about my height. But, it seems, everyone else in the world does seem to care….about my height. This is confusing to me. If I don’t care what my height is, what’s it to you?
I’ve never known what to say to people who seem so preoccupied with my height. I have found you have to respond, or they don’t shut up. The last time I tried the ignore trick, I was stuck in a line in Starbucks with this woman who just went on and on about my height. The line was about ten people long and I had to listen to this woman the whole time. She finally asked me if I even spoke English. So, suddenly, because I don’t respond to your comments about my body, I must not speak English?
Typically I say something polite like, “Dynamite come in small packages,” or “Thank you,” #smileandblush. But I’ve tried other responses. (“And you have black hair/glasses/a green shirt…. What’s your point?”)
Then there was the redneck-stoner skinhead type who I almost got into a confrontation with during my three day career waitressing at an IHOP. When said fellow waiter commented that I was short, I decided to try a new tactic…political correctness.
“It’s an ethnic trait,” I said in a mildly corrective tone.
His chest flared out and his head whipped around, “Are you saying I’m not ethnic?” he bellowed.
“No,” I recovered quickly. “I was referring to a specific trait inherent to my own ethnicity.”
He calmed to a mild simmer and wandered off. He never talked to me again.
Then there was the museum guard at the Smithsonian. As I perused the Jackson Pollocks, I noticed him eyeing me with a certain attention. I smiled politely and headed to the next exhibit. He stopped me. “How tall are you?” he asked curiously. I smiled my tight lipped, you-just-pissed-me-off smile, and countered. “How tall are YOU?” His eyes narrowed and he tensed up as if I had just told him a bomb joke. He stared me down for an answer. Whatever. I told him. He shook his head and smirked as I walked on.
Then there was the day I was in the library writing, when an actual midget approached me, and asked if I wanted to be an actor in his elf-group at the Renaissance Fair. I politely told him I’d be out of town, but thanks anyway.
Then there was the guy in a drug store aisle who stopped me to tell me I was short. I gave him my newly-formulated response inspired by the movie 50 First Dates. “Are you from another culture where it’s appropriate to walk up to a random woman and ask highly specific questions about her body?” He just stared at me dumbfounded and the stammered some sort of nonsensical response before wandering off.
Not that I am a rude person. I’m really not. It’s just, I’ve dealt with this crap for decades. Standing in line at Starbucks, trying to buy groceries, comments in workplaces when I naturally reach for a stools and or a chair to complete a task….I’ve just run out of ways to deal with it—the constant harassment that is. Yes, it is constant.
I don’t notice my height, until people point it out to me. Other than that, I just don’t think about it. I think about…
My career or lack thereof. My job and the various office dynamics and if I’m handling things right. My writing. My blog. Should I monetize it and if so how should I do it? Theology of art. Philosophy or at least that I wish I had more time for philosophical books. What I’m currently reading and how I could incorporate the structure into this piece I’m writing. If I should buy that book on writing or do I have enough books on writing and should just stop reading about it and write already. What I need to buy (new socks). What I want to buy (cool flavored coffees and a fun tea set at Teavana). The sales at Macy’s (and the nifty teapot on clearance). My latest home decorating project and how I should use it as an excuse to go to Ikea. How much I wish I was Julia Child and could make really cool recipes. My nieces and nephew and if I will be a “cool aunt,” or just a plain old aunt. The photo book I was going to do for niece’s first birthday and haven’t done. How much I wish I had a boyfriend, but how my most recent experience to that effect shows that I actually don’t want one. Am I getting too old for a first marriage? Am I ever going to make it as a writer? What should I do with that first chapter of my book? It just slows the whole thing down and needs to be restructured. Maybe if I make this character do this, and then insert this whole section from this other file into this one, and then connect them, it will restructure properly. Could I do something totally avante-garde with the book and give it several layers of plot. How would that work? I would have to build-in a whole layer above this…
And then some strange person interrupts the reverie with, “You’re so short.”
And I’m just like, “Huh?…What’s…what’s…your point?” I want to slap them for interrupting with such a banal and useless observation. I don’t get it. What do you want me to do with that comment? Why do you feel strongly enough about it that you need to bother me with it?
I’m all for free speech. My degree was in journalism. (And free speech doesn’t actually exist by the way). But, I’ve even done research to find out if I can start slapping people with lawsuits under the sexual harassment clause. Because, conceptually, how is what people are doing to me, any different than stopping a woman on the street and making comments about her breasts, or her bottom or what have you? In this way, I sympathize with you particularly well-bosomed women who deal with the same issue.
In an age of political correctness, have we lost the basic social sense of good manners? Or are we so accustomed to nanny-government and anti-bullying propaganda that we can only hear etiquette when it is legislated or litigated?
Or maybe I’m just an angry little elf. I should have taken the gig at the Renaissance Fair. Then I could have bought me a double cheeseburger and fries and been happy in my pointy little elf shoes.