The burdens of being just slightly taller than most other people

I’m tall, but I’m not that tall. I always like to talk about how tall I am, specifically because without me constantly mentioning it, nobody else would. And so I’m writing this to serve exactly that purpose. I’m usually the tallest person in the room. But barely. Which is why I really wish I were like three or four inches taller, to really stand out, to really drive home the point that, hello world, I’m pretty tall.

But I’m not taller than everyone, and I get really pissed off when I find myself in a situation where I’m in the same room as somebody who’s clearly taller than me. And they’re all just standing there, like it’s no big deal. And I’ll hear somebody else whisper to another person, “Who is really tall guy over there? I wonder how tall he is.” And I get so angry, because I realize that this person isn’t whispering to somebody else, but they’re whispering to me, telling me to look at how tall that tall guy is. If you’re going to faun over how tall somebody is, and it’s not me, just do me a favor and try telling somebody significantly shorter. Don’t come over to me and rub it in my face about how now I’m the second tallest person in the room.

Every now and then I’ll be on the subway and some really tall guy will walk on the same car that I’m riding. I’m just tall enough that, if I’m standing in the doorway, my head barely touches the top of the car. There’s like maybe a centimeter of space. So it’s perfect. I feel like it was built specifically for me. But then this taller guy comes on and he’s really having a hard time finding a spot to stand, and he can’t, so eventually he’s just kind of crouching, or bending his head uncomfortably, and everyone’s looking at him like, man, that guy is so tall. And nobody is looking at me anymore, noticing how tall I am, but not too tall, just the right height for this train. A few times when something like this has happened I try to find an even more uncomfortable spot for myself, like right at the end of the car, on some of the older trains, there’s like a utility box that juts out from the side. So I’ll stand right under that to try to draw attention to myself, like, look at me, I’m crouching too everyone. But I feel like I just look like an idiot.

I have this little trick to put taller people in their places. But it only works in certain situations. I have to be in a group of people and one of the other people has to be taller than me. But they can’t be too much taller than me, like only two or three inches, tops. And then somebody else has to ask that guy, in front of the group, “Just how tall are you?” And then I have to maintain my composure, not betray the fact that behind my calm exterior I’m practically boiling over with rage. And then somebody else in the group has to look at me, think, well, Rob’s kind of tall, or at least, I always thought he was kind of tall, until I met this much taller person, and, assuming everyone else is thinking the same thing, I’ll ask an open question to Rob, like, “Hey Rob, how about you? How tall are you?”

So yeah, that’s a highly unlikely series of actions to happen all in a row. But if it does happen, I’m ready. I give my height, but I subtract two or three inches. And people are just like, “Really? That’s it?” and they’ll all act confused, thinking that I had to be a little bit taller. But they’re also glad, happy that I’ve been humbled, taken down a peg or two. And you might think that my plan would have backfired, that now I seem even shorter than before. But after a second or two, somebody else in the group will address the tall guy and say, “But wait a second. If Rob’s only that tall, and you’re only two or three inches taller than Rob then …”

Bingo. Then either that guy was exaggerating his height or I must be taller than how tall I said I was. And both of these possibilities will go through everyone’s head, and even if they don’t consciously attach themselves to one of these opinions, they’ll both be there, and so in the back of everybody’s mind, I’ll come out as taller while this other guy will come across as too tall, or trying too hard to be too tall. Whereas I’ll be humbler, bigger in my being slightly shorter.

I wish it were acceptable for guys to wear high-heels. I wish there were some sort of a shin implant, where I could surgically make my legs even longer. I wish I had a shrink ray, so I could zap anybody I see that’s taller than me.

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