For most of my life I believed I was 5’11. This was a fact. I would tell everyone who asked, I’m 5’11 with pride. Not quite 6’0 but close enough. My father was a short man, standing no more than 5’6, so any extra inches I was bequeathed was not from his side of the family. My mother’s side however including my recently passed grandmother stood 6’0. Many aunts and uncles on this side linger around the 6’0 juncture and above. But I prided myself on being one of, if not the tallest in my immediate family. Five-foot-eleven inches. For a man this may rank even higher than penis size on the Manly List because it’s immediately apparent upon meeting someone. I entered high school tracking in at 5’7 and left four inches merrier. Yeah.
Recently I went to a new family doctor and received the shock of a life time. You see it had been years since I’ve gone to a family doctor and none had ever measured my height before. I was now a 44 years young, being a borderline diabetic and told I needed a prostate exam. The prostate exam is another story. After all I considered myself in great shape and only wanted to know about my blood work. When the nurse told me I was 5’10, I thought for sure she was mistaken. Check again dammit. How in the hell could this be?
Before I carry on, let me relay the tale of how I came to the magic number of 5’11 and logged it as gospel written in stone. Using a measuring tape I placed on the ground at some odd age of seventeen I concluded that was my number. That simple. After all everyone remarked how much I had sprouted up. I didn’t get a second opinion of course because the point where my hand held was five feet eleven inches. My reality. My older brother is 5’7 and my younger brother is 5’10. All was well and good in the world.
In one quick swoop, my world had changed by the decline of a single digit. One might begin to question the identity of those around them or the validity of one’s birth certificate. I jest, but only slightly. When I tell others about this changing of fact they respond with less incredulity than I imagined. To me this was a big deal. And here I thought I was one who was opened minded and at ease to throw off the heavy weight of a boxed identity. Is one inch all that important. Apparently it is. Couldn’t I swallow this little fact up and move on being the same intelligent insightful person I once was. Yea but the world looked so much different when I was five glorious eleven.
Now as I step out into the world one inch shorter, I notice the 5’10 club don’t walk as sure as their vertically inclined brethren. Their lack of eye contact on buss and trains come to mind. They guard their woman with a bit more ferocity. Fearing the taller gifted males will swipe them away. Hence the need to be more clever with wit and charm. They also are a bit more paranoid than usual. Thinking everyone of normal height wants to belittle them or cut them down to an even smaller peg.
Because of my belief and skill at moving through the tall man world I have learned many things about passing undetected. As a youth I played many basketball games and threw down with the best of them. Even dunked on a few of them. My stringent belief, no doubt saved me on many occasion. I saw the world different from how they saw it. The tall guys that is. I didn’t hold my female companion as closely as I probably should have. What was the need. No man would dare try to steal her. My height is strong and powerful. Or so I thought.
I usher all the vertically challenged individuals to throw off this damn reality and conjure up your own. Walk on tippy toe if you must but stroll like you are ten feet tall. Who’s to say it’s not their measuring tape that’s wrong and not yours. Who’s to say.