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Low-level discourse

For just about all of my life — from about the age of three — I have had to deal on a daily basis with personal comments aimed at something I have no control over. I am tall (six foot two, to be precise) and for some reason a certain kind of person feels the need to draw my attention to this simple fact of anatomy. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve had to endure the following sort of exchange (usually from a vertically challenged stranger):

Short Annoying Person: Gee, you’re really tall!
Me: Thanks for pointing that out.

SAP: No, but I mean you’re very tall.
Me: Really? I could have sworn I was five foot three this morning. I must have grown since breakfast.

SAP: What’s it like being so tall?
Me: Not having been born a midget like you, I have nothing to compare it with.

SAP: You are just too tall
Me: For what? Limbo dancing? Dating a jockey?

SAP: You’re always looking down your nose at everyone.
Me: Well, you are down there. How else am I supposed to look at you? Supine from the floor?

SAP: How’s the air up there?
Me: It’s probably a bit purer than the stuff you’re inhaling down there at armpit level.

I suppose what irritates me about this is that there really is no polite way to answer such inanities, so I’m forced to stoop to their level (pun intended).

I was raised to believe that it is ill-mannered to make personal comments, which is why I have never — in all my years on this planet — walked up to anyone and said: “Oh. My. God. You are sooooo tiny/fat/hairy/ugly!”

What would be the point? What would be the intention? To let them in on something they might otherwise have overlooked? To be helpful (and to assume they don’t have a mirror)?

Don’t get me wrong — I’m not a humourless heightist. I laughed my head off in a Buenos Aires coffee shop: a small boy came over to talk to us, and when I stood up he raked his eyes up the length of my frame and exclaimed in wonderment to the other patrons: “La chica grande!” He was about eight, of course, and easily forgiven. I’m not sure what excuse grown-up SAPs have.

But my absolute worst are the little men suffering from a Napoleon complex and attendant feelings of inferiority who feel the need to overcompensate. And who better to focus their feelings of inadequacy on than the Amazon in the corner?

It’s a scientific fact (and my friends will back me up on this) that if there is a short man in the room, he will find me. Like a heat-seeking missile he will cut through a room full of women more at his altitude and hone in on me. He will then proceed to try (on his tippy-toes) to bury his little nose in my cleavage and tell me how he loves tall women, because “they’re such a challenge”. Sorry mate, if you want a challenge, go climb Kilimanjaro or run a marathon. I am not an extreme sports event.

SAP: I’d need a ladder to kiss you.
Me: No, actually you’d need a personality transplant and a charm infusion.

Recently, I actually found myself saying — to an annoying little barnacle who refused to be dislodged and kept drooling on my knee: “Now, don’t be ridiculous, dearie. You and I getting together would be like a Great Dane mating with a chihuahua.”

This is simply not the level of discourse I want (or should have to) engage in … So I have decided to take the high road. The next time SAPs press their unsolicited remarks or attentions on me, I shall avoid the temptation to squash them underfoot like a bug and instead smile benevolently, pat them on their little head and walk away.

  • Of course not all tall women feel the same way. Kate Mulvey of the Daily Mail is a firm believer that little ones try harder (but I do think that at a trifling five foot ten she hardly even qualifies as tall …)