As a 6 foot 6 female, I hear all kinds of comments on a daily basis. Well, maybe not every day, but most every day. I am so used to hearing comments, they usually don’t bother me anymore. When I’m walking with someone for the first time, they are amazed at what people say to me. They get angry instead of me. I had several comments this past weekend so I thought I’d see how many I could remember from my lifetime.
How tall are you? The most common. Does it matter? I’m still a lot taller than you. Do you really need a comparison? People have no concept of height. I’ve been asked if I was 7 feet tall on several occasions. Seriously? Most of the time I say 6’6”. If I’m feeling playful, I’ll puzzle them with 5’18”.
You’re tall. This comes in a close second with the above. It’s like people have no idea what to say and instead of listening to the adage “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything.” they just blurt out the obvious. I want to say, “No s#%*, Sherlock.” I usually smile and say, “Really?”
Do you play basketball? Yes, a lot of tall people play basketball, so maybe a good question. Maybe. Still, unnecessary. I also played volleyball. When I lived in Seattle someone asked me if I was a rower. First (and last) time anyone asked me that. When I worked with the Women’s College Works Series I was asked if I was a pitcher. My answers depends on my mood. I have several, and I keep it brief. Yes. No. Sometimes I’ll get a wild hair and tell them I was a gymnast. One response I can never bring myself to say is, “Do you play miniature golf?”
How’s the weather up there? I don’t recall anyone asking me this. I wanted to include it because I have heard the story of someone being asked that question and answering, “It’s raining.” and then they spit on them. I could never do that! That’s just gross. And worse than someone asking that question.
How tall is your husband? I don’t like this question mainly because I don’t have a husband. I would love to say he’s 6’10” or even 7 feet. I have a guy friend who is 5’5” and we have pretended to be a couple just to make people laugh.
How tall are your children? I don’t have kids. Next.
Sir. Once-in-a-while people think I’m a man. It’s mostly cashiers. They are busy scanning items and don’t look up when they greet me, just see a tall figure and say, “How are you today, sir?” They quickly realize I’m a woman and apologize. This doesn’t bother me; it’s mainly funny. The best was when I went to a local native American museum with my mom. I wore my hair down and was wearing a jean jacket. As my mom paid for the tickets, the person asked her, “Is he a student?” He? I do have a dark complexion. Did she think I was native American dude? Strange.
When I dream, I’m as tall as you. A woman said this to me last weekend at a farmer’s market. She was in her 60s and around 5’5”. I had no idea what to say, so responded with, “In my dreams, I can fly.”
That is the tallest woman in the world! People make comments and don’t realize I can hear them. I was at the grocery store the other day and I heard one of the employees talking to a co-worker. After that first remark, he added, “I’m 6’3” and she’s way taller than me!” Yes, I’m taller than you, but not by that much. For the record, one of the tallest women in the world did live in Indianapolis in an apartment complex not far from where I grew up. Sandy Allen was 7’ 7” and her height was due to a tumor in her pituitary gland that caused it to release growth hormone uncontrollably. She died at age 53.
Can I ask you a question? This is usually followed by “How tall are you?” When I hear this, I am tempted to say, “You just did.” Sometimes I give my height before they ask the second question. Keep it moving, people. Nothing to see here.
Besides comments, there are a couple phenomenon. One is the walk-by. This happens when I’m standing in a crowd or in line, minding my own business, when I notice a man walk by me out of the corner of my eye. When he gets behind me, he slows down and looks at his friends to see how he measures up. I am good at spotting the walk-by. I love to make eye contact, letting them know I caught them red-handed. At least they didn’t ask a question or make a rude comment. But do you think I can’t see you skulking around behind me? Geez.
The other is immediately looking at my feet to see how high my heels are. Because a woman my height must be wearing heels, right? Nope. In college I attended some fraternity band parties. Initially I got excited because I saw several tall guys in the crowd, but when I looked closer, they were standing on coolers to see the band. Of course, others thought I was standing on a cooler. It’s all me.
I realize I am an “oddity.” Most people are curious and don’t mean any harm. I will admit when I see a woman close to my height, I look at her in amazement and think, “Is that what I look like? I AM really tall!” Because I don’t feel tall in my own body. (Until I knock my head on something.) And then my friends give ME a hard time for doing the exact thing I complain about. But I make a point not to stare (too much) and I certainly don’t say anything to them. Often, we exchange an understanding smile as we pass each other.
I would love for people to be mindful of what they are saying and who can hear them. This is for everyone’s benefit – those who are excessively short, in a wheelchair or have some other physical difference. Don’t stare. If you can’t help yourself, don’t say anything out loud until you know for sure you are out of range. Treat them like just any other person. They deserve it.
Oh, and the weather up here? It’s just fine.
P.S. – This past Sunday at the grocery store (why is it always at the grocery store?) a woman approached me as I stood in the checkout line. “How tall are you?” After I answered, she said, “My daughter wants to be 7 feet.” Wow. That’s a pretty lofty goal. Her daughter was hiding in one of the other checkout lines. She’s 12. I told the mom about doubling a child’s height when they’re two and that usually will be their full-size height. She shook her head, like, “She’s not going to make it.” She looked to be about 5’7” and she said her husband is 6’3”. Hey – who knows? My dad is 6’1” and my mom is 5’9”. Anyway, it was pretty funny, especially since I had just written a post about this subject.