At birth, I weighed in at 5 pounds, little. Considering my mom smoked until she was pregnant (stopping while pregnant—ahead of her time), my dad smoked nonstop and had daily evening cocktails (note the plural), and my mom gained a total of 15 pounds (as directed by her male doctor, as were all women at the time)…5 pounds should be considered a coup.
I am short. Until a few years ago, I was 5 feet and one half of an inch and aways said there would be a huge party if I reached 5’1″… which at 50 I did. I am now 5’1″ thanks to good posture and my spine no longer being constricted from sitting at a desk all day. I use a standing desk, it has changed my height, back comfort, and my life…I did not have a party.
Most of my life I have been the shortest or the second shortest in every situation. My best buddy Deirdre was shorter, but she moved, then Angela was shorter but we weren’t always in the same class, then Noel was shorter…and that is still the case, she measures in at 4’11”. Noel’s orange Volkswagen Bus had blocks taped to the gas pedal so she could reach it. After writing that sentence, I realize the insanity of that situation. Memories. When you are short you always remember who was shorter.
One of my closest friends growing up was a giant among women, or at least a giant compared to me. Elena. Elena and I could play Barbies…for hours. She also had “The Sunshine Family”. We would have them all hang out together, which is kind of like Peter, Paul, and Mary hanging out at the Playboy Mansion. She had very fit parents, they often noted how tiny I was in front of her, I am not sure she appreciated the comparison, since being tall was not really her fault. Elena was just perfect to me, we could play Careers, Clue, Monopoly for hours. We would explore her very 1975 home, running our fingers over the velvet 3D wallpaper, being very careful not to get caught…her mom didn’t want us to “ruin it”. We took dance together, ballet, tap, and jazz. One year in tap we did the “Dance of the Planets”. I was Pluto, the littlest planet of all, with a solo entrance that I remember to this day. Heel toe, heel toe, all the way in from the wing. All the other planets awaiting so we could flap (or as we say in Queens, fa-lap) ball change together. I was crushed when Pluto’s planetdom was taken away…Pluto will always be a planet to me. Elena moved away when I was around 10. I think Elena and Deirdre moving actually had a big effect on my life, but that is a different story.
I never minded being short until Randy Newman. Currently a fan…his Toy Story songs mean everything to my family, my son has Woody and Buzz dolls on his childhood bed to this day. I used to hate Randy Newman. The song Short People is a script on how to torture short people. Short people got no reason; they got little hands and little eyes; they tell great big lies; they wear platform shoes on their nasty little feet… what the HELL IS WRONG WITH THS MAN??? Standing in height order, waiting for our cue to enter the church in our long white robes…the whole children’s choir singing that demeaning song…on a loop. Me, smiling as they sang, because mom taught us: Do. Not. React. The tall blonde singing while patting my head like a puppy, others using my head as an arm rest…kids being kids, I don’t blame them…I blame Randy stupid Newman.
Song aside, I like being short. I fit into places. People are actually very nice to short humans, especially men, the let’s compare hand size is a common pick up line in a bar, “oh man, look how much bigger my hand is than yours, my hands are huge compared to yours”…blah blah blah, all about them, it never worked. In grocery stores strangers get things down from shelves for me, plane and theater seats are comfortable, climbing on plane armrests to put stuff in the overhead usually ends with someone getting up to help…actually people help in this situation less and less…people are not as nice as they used to be…that’s ok, it all gets done.
The summer I was 16, my childhood friend Elena appeared at the club. She knew who I was right away since I have looked exactly the same since I grew hair at two. Anyway, we hugged, we smiled, we reminisced, and…we were exactly the same height. My giant buddy had just peaked early. There we were, eye to eye, a lesson learned…who you are at 9 is not who you are forever. A good thing to remember as my beautiful nieces and nephews, who I rocked in my arms, tower over me…every single one of them.