Tales from below
The saga of a small girl in a tall world
Fourth grade was my golden year. I know telling you this is to publicly declare I am totally lame, but I have to say — those were the days. I mean, my middle part / gaucho pant combo was super trendy, and I had my multiplication tables memorized like nobody’s business. One could even say I was killing it.
Best of all, though: I was tall.
OK, “Tall” is a relative term. I’ve never known the glories of towering over others, but at least in the fourth grade I was not staring straight up their noses — and no, it’s not very flattering for any of you from down here.
At some point during fifth grade, though, I found my view of others was shifting, and by seventh grade I realized I was left behind, consumed by a layer of the atmosphere below my skyscraping classmates. I haven’t grown since.
When you’ve been short for this long, a few patterns emerge. First, people always want to pick you up. Maybe it’s because I resemble a small child who can’t put one foot in front of the other, making their cause a noble one. For others, I think I make convenient workout equipment. Why walk to the AFC when you have a perfectly sized bench press sitting in the lounge next to you? That would just be dumb.
Another short girl problem is my irrational fear of tall hairstyles. A deep dread comes over me when I see the girl sitting in front of me in class has a two-and-a-half foot addition to her head. The small advantage stadium seating afforded me is completely canceled out by such Marge Simpson-inspired life choices.
The most challenging of my problems, though, is entirely my own doing. Earlier this year, in attempting to create more storage space for the all the stuff I brought to college I clearly don’t need — see: Halloween basket — I lofted my bed. Entirely forgetting my height issues, I cranked the bed all the way up to its highest setting. Perfect.
I now have two choices to get onto my bed. I can get a running start and use my (ostensible) upper body strength to pull myself up and stick the landing. This option gives me my daily workout, but I have about a 14 percent success rate pulling it off.
The second option is to use a stepstool like a preschooler. It is not something I am proud of — but who needs dignity, anyways?
And finally, there’s the struggle I face most often — being overlooked. I’m not saying this in a “pity me, I’m being ignored” kind of way. I’m literally below peoples’ horizon of visual perception.
I am often so short in relation to other people they can’t see I am standing in front of them. I cannot count how many times people have bumped into me and casually remarked, “Oh, I didn’t see you there,” in the past day alone. It’s like those movie scenes where someone opens the door and thinks no one is there, only to realize there is a baby on the doorstep. Except it’s actually my life.
For all the unpleasantness it causes, however, being short has a lot of perks. I rock heels, am closer to the ground and have never bumped my head on a ceiling. It’s a perspective most people don’t get, so I’m happy to have some new insight to offer to the world. All I ask is you glance down occasionally — because, yeah, there’s a person in front of you.
Sumedha’s column runs biweekly Tuesdays. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.