I’ve written about my height before, and some of you know from reading my posts that I am six feet tall. I tell people I’m only five feet twelve inches. Sometimes they don’t get it right away. Sometimes I don’t get it myself. Like that time I was filling out a form at the DMV and in response to the question about my height, I began to write “five feet twelve inches” out of habit.
The DMV doesn’t take kindly to mistakes about one’s height, regardless of how helpless the mistake may have been.
Being a woman of my height and build has its disadvantages, regardless of how awesome it must be to those who are more petite. Petite means short. I think the original definition was meant to apply to someone who was also dainty and maybe frail. But now it just means short.
When I hear shorter women say that they wish they were tall like me, I want to tell them about the scars on my head from cabinet doors, or my fear of ceiling fans. I want to inform them of the night terrors I experience after every single shopping trip. I want to tell them what it feels like to be called ‘sir’ or to try to embrace feminism while being built like a quarterback.
I want to tell them about the jokes, the cracks, and the puns. I’ve heard it all and no nickname is an original. Jolly Green, “how’s the weather up there?”, etc.
I don’t tell them. I let them live on in their world of dreams and allow them to wish away something they have of genuine value, something that if I had it I would consider it a prized possession. Normalcy.
But sometimes, out of the blue, somebody will say something that brings genuine laughter from up here on high, something that makes me feel both welcome and accepted, regardless of how far I’m towering over them at the time.
It happened this way once during the summer back on the farm. One of the owners was planning a trip to sell hay and vegetables and would be gone for several days. He asked me to care for his penned cattle during his absence. I especially liked this owner, because while everyone else was calling me ‘Kat’, he called me ‘Kitten’. It was a term of endearment that implied smallness, cuteness, and acceptance.
I didn’t mind granting his favor. It would require some daily chores, some of them in enclosures that could get pretty mucky with cow poop, especially if it rained. But I didn’t mind.
And boy did it rain. It rained buckets the whole week that guy was gone. A penned lot cannot be cleaned while it’s raining, and the cow poop kept getting deeper. I was wearing hip boots that barely covered my knees in order to wade through the lot to get to the troughs every day.
I was quick to point out this inconvenience to the owner upon his return when he came to check on his cattle.
Me: “I want you to know that I waded the mud and the muck and the water up to my knees to feed your cows.”
Him: “Kitten, surely, undoubtedly, if you’ve waded the mud and the muck and the water up to your knees to feed my cows, my calves have drowned!”