And I Wrote This Book.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

On Being Short in a World of Rude People


Dear Sillies,
   I met someone this weekend. I know, I know. But that's not the shocking part. It's what he said to me that's shocking. (Hint: It wasn't nice.).
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
   In a mood to dance, I took myself to a nearby club. Several local bands played that night. One,  among the area's most popular. I'm unclear why. Their music was so annoyingly loud, I had to go outside in the nippy, night air until they finished.
   Upon re-entry, I stashed my jacket and purse on a stool. That's when our eyes locked. I recognized him - a musician in the obnoxiously loud, reputable band. I was about to lie and say that I liked the music, when he mouthed something to me. I couldn't hear him.
   "What did you say?" I asked.
   "I said 'What's up, Shorty?'"
I abruptly walked away.
   Later, I went to retrieve my jacket and purse. Still there, Rude Man said, "I didn't mean to be rude."
   Dude, if you didn't mean to be rude, perhaps you should have, for example, not been rude. "You WERE rude, and I was about to tell you I appreciated your music too."
   "I'm sorry," he sounded genuine. Rude Man extended a hand for a start-anew handshake. It felt warm and sincere, not unlike the one I got from Bernie. Unlike with Bernie, though, I didn't fall in love.
   Later, I approached a friend sitting with a small group in the back of the club. Guess who was there! No, dangit, not my Bernie. Rude Man. Lynne, a mutual friend, asked if we know each other. In painstakingly regretful synchronicity, we said "We met!" Rude Man explained the scenario to her, though I didn't listen.
   "Robyn," Lynne turned to me after hearing him out, "He meant it in an endearing way."
   What part of "Shorty?" is endearing? Sh? Ho? Hor?
Was he flirting? Sure, it worked with one guy who mocked my height several times on our first date. I ended up marrying him, and we know how that went. (Hint: Not well.)
   "It wasn't endearing," I countered.
   As I left the club, Rude Man approached to impart yet another seemingly sincere apology.
   I don't understand. He isn't bad or mean. Nor are the countless others. I endured hearty helpings of mockery throughout my school years. And now I get told "You're short" on a regular basis. As if I don't know this. I step into an elevator, and someone along for the ride inevitably asks me how tall I am. Why do people freely ask? Why do I freely respond?
   Society doesn't ask the fat guy: "How much do you weigh?" We don't call tall people "Tall-ies". We don't inquire of the stupid, "What's your IQ?" So why is it acceptable to insult the littles? (I admit, watching the Little Women of LA get into a fist fights makes me split a gut. But I wouldn't mess with any of them.)   Short people are the toughest of all. We would do well to start taking revenge on everyone who mocks us. Perhaps that's the only way they'd learn to shut their big, fat rude mouths.
                                             -----
Annie Bidwell (1839-1918) was my height, 4'8". Photo from 1875.

   She and her husband, John, founded my hometown of Chico, California. Annie was a staunch women's rights advocate and a powerful ally of the  Mechoopda Native American Indian tribe on whose land we reside. Annie's friends included Susan B. Anthony, President Hayes, and John Muir. Among many other acts of generosity, Annie donated over 2,200 acres of land, including a Children's Park, to our fine city.
   So yeah, don't mess with a short person. We might build a city or kick you where it hurts most.

Thank you for letting me air this, dears. 
Have a safe, nice, and hopeful new week in the biggest of ways.  

54 comments:

  1. My nephew has been married to a 4'8" woman for about 40 years. I love her dearly!!

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    1. I'm glad to learn this. I often learn of "someone I know who's 5' or 5'1"" as if I can. But I do care about anyone else who's exactly my height. Thanks, Fishducky.

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  2. I have looked at life from both sides now. I was a short person for years. When I turned 15 I grew eight inches. And another couple in the years which followed. Yes, people were rude when I was short. And they are still rude now.
    There are far too many oxygen thieves about and I would like to cut off their supplies.

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    1. That's fascinating to have had both experiences, EC. I imagine that was a highly awkward (maybe?) growth spurt. Thanks for the perspective. I was under the (clearly false) impression that tall people are more respected than us short folks.

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  3. What he meant to say is that you're adorably petite, Robyn. Some men just lack the appropriate vocabulary. :)

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    1. Thanks for the re-frame, GB. I'm not "petite" by US standards, though. By our country's warped standards, petite means size 0 (no fat on the bones, like a model who lives off of one celery stick per day). The dude could've said "Hi sexy," and I wouldn't have been offended. Sheesh. Is that too much to ask?

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  4. He clearly thought he was being cute (which he was not)... and he was interested in you. What an opening line! You could always wear a sign that says, "If you want to have a snowball's chance in Hell of getting to first base, don't call me Shorty."

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    1. I love every part of this comment, Mitchell. Thank you. I'll get that printed on a t-shirt and let ya know how it goes.

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  5. I stopped growing at age 14, adding barely another inch in the next 10 years to almost hit 5'3". So I've heard shorty and short-stuff a lot. It does matter who it comes from. Strangers or casual acquaintances, it's not so endearing. Good friends, doesn't bother me. My husband has his own special word for it - Elfin.

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    1. Yeah, if I get good sex (or any sex, for that matter) from the guy, he can call me whatever he wants. But for a stranger to comment on someone's height - well, I made my point. That must've been tough for you, Diane, to have stopped growing at the young age 14. I didn't hit puberty until 17 or so.

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  6. Trying to be cute he made an ass out of himself. What a stupid opening line. Good for you to move on and next time bring ear plugs for his band's music ;)

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    1. Yeah, I'd wished I'd brought ear plugs. Plus, I wouldn't have heard his comment even after he repeated it. Good advice, Sage.

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    1. Good phrase, Alex. I'm going to start campaigning against short shaming.

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  8. Following up on Gorilla Banana's eloquence, a perfect comeback to rude people like that would be: "I'm not short, I'm adorably petite!"

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    1. You and GB are both very eloquent, Debra. I'm thinking about it. Per my response to GB, "petite" connotes being exceptionally skinny. So I'll have to look into synonyms.

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  9. "Have you always been black(Jewish, Chinese, Mexican, Polish, Muslim, gay, straight, tall, large-butted, twelve-toed)?"
    These are the kinds of questions you should stop asking around age 13 if you have gotten away with it for that long. Gorilla B. may have a point. Maybe Rude Man just lacks vocabulary.

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    1. And a filter. He lacks a filter too, that is. I laughed in imagining asking someone, "Have you always been large butted?" That's hilarious, Jono. Thank you.

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  10. I tend to think we are now living in a time that people feel compelled to say whatever drops into their brain and don't recognize that some things are better left unsaid. I would say that in a case where someone is just plain OBLIVIOUS to the impact of their comments, if and when they sincerely apologize...accept it and move on.

    My husband is 6.5 and he gets asked all the time about his height so he is used to addressing it. He tends to like being tall so he has never deemed it as an insult. When he hears things like "Stretch" or "did you play basketball?", he just moves the conversation along.

    I am not overly short but am smallish in stature esp. given the 14 inches shorter that I am next to Hubby. I think Debra She Who Seeks is right. I would be happy to consider myself as petite.

    Isn't if odd that we live in a time that weight has become such a PC laced topic but other things like height seem to be open season?

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    1. Thank you for your thoughtful response, Cheryl. I realize I shouldn't have assumed that tall people aren't mocked or asked their height. Honestly, I didn't think it was happening. How, um, SHORT- sighted of me. And it's so true that weight is a PC laced topic but the rest is free game.
      I appreciate your input.

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    2. I should of gone on to say though...the difference between when tall men are pointed out for being tall seems less negative in some way than when a woman is called short. I don't know why it should be different but I understand how you could take it as an unkind jab. I don't think you are being short sighted as it seems those comments don't carry the same weight of criticism. I understand your point.

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    3. Oh, thank you, Cheryl. I appreciate that. Yeah, tall people are more respected. That's been my perspective. I suppose we're all up for mockery simply because we're human and share this earth with rude people. But I agree that us littles are more likely mocked than the tall folks. Nobody mocks them, just assumes they've played for the NBA.

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  11. Oh dude....let's not forget people singing that incredibly annoying and stupid 'Short People' song. Yeah..thanks...I got 'no reason to live' apparently. Although the only person it really didn't bug me when I was teased 'Shorty' was Russell when we had that study hall together. Of course that was better than him being mean and snapping at me like he did earlier that year. But it's hilarious to see me and my stepdaughter together.

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    1. My parents were thoughtful and sensitive when that song came out. They were a mixed bag, but it means a lot now to recall how they explained that song to me and my sibs as a form of sarcasm. Still, it didn't prevent kids at school from slapping me on the head while shouting the lyrics. Damn Randy Newman. How could he have not thought about potential damage from those words?

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  12. Being on the toe of the bell curve for any metric is tough for all kinds of reasons. I think it is an innate reaction of people to look side-eyed at those who differ and the bell curve toe residents, by definition, differ from the majority of people. Most people learn to rein in their rudeness as they grow up and mature. Rude Man, unfortunately, also lives on the toe of a bell curve - the curve of socialization. I don't have much sympathy for him, though, because he can change if he wants to. May be this encounter with you, which clearly had unexpected consequences, will inspire him to be more thoughtful and considerate. Ever the optimist, Wilma

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    1. I sure hope so too, Wilma.
      Ever naive, Robyn
      PS I like the way you worded this ("toe of the bell curve" and all). Thank you kindly.

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  13. People just don't think when they flap their jaws. It's just a shame that the world is rude

    I have a feeling he was sorry by the end. Shame he ruined your night out

    Take care

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    1. I'm confident of both, Joanne: He was sorry. He ruined my night out.
      I'm tough, though, and the comments are most kind.
      Thank you, and take care too.

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  14. Yeah, it was a stupid thing to say, but people (sadly) say stupid things all the time. I'm not going into all the rude stuff people have said about my appearance, but the biggest problem, which occurred mostly when I was in elementary school, was when kids started saying I was Vietnamese and I was one of the people we were at war with. I don't have big, blue eyes. I have small, slightly slanted brown eyes. People still ask me occasionally if I'm Japanese or Chinese, and they aren't asking in a friendly way. Recently, someone told me I have "chinky" eyes. I have seen fat people asked how much they weigh and heard them called names. For all the complaining about political correctness, plenty of people see someone who is disabled and out comes "look at the retard." You're not alone in being picked on. Much of the world is socially challenged. At least the guy apologized.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. You're right. Thank you for the dose of reality, Janie. It really irks me that you've been treated that way. I'm sorry. I guess we all have our experiences of being stigmatized/teased/talked down too. Stupid rude people.
      Love ya.

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    2. Oh, and because my son is tall and athletic, he got called a dumb jock all the time in high school. Get who got a great academic scholarship to college?

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    3. Wow. So according to the rude people of the world's play book: you can't be athletic and smart at the same time. (Stupid and Rude are married. Aren't they? They might be quiet about this, but I'm catching on.) Glad he got that scholarship. That's awesome.

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  15. So I should stop short of making any short jokes, got it. lol

    Does seem rather weird though, as you say, no one asks weight, IQ or tall people anything. Guess short people just get the short end of the stick.

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    1. In short, Pat, as you might guess.
      All I have to say is one word: Yes.

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  16. Short people tend to live longer than tall people. As a short person I take comfort in that.

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    1. And we're less likely to incur head injuries from hitting the ceiling. There's that.

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  17. You furnished a lesson in manners to someone who needed it and will be improved by it --all without throwing a punch, which is unusual in a bar. My compliments and admiration.

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    1. How kind of you, Geo. Thanks for the positive perspective.

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  18. I like Gorilla Bananas' comment. Even if Rude man had good intentions and liked you, he surely could have done better with his opening line. I'm sorry it made for an unpleasant evening for you.

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    1. Thank you, Connie. Yeah, there was a lot of room for improvement in his opening line.

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  19. Judy Garland was your height and so was Gloria Swanson....both amazing actresses and justly famous. Another who was only. 4' 8" was my grandmother. Oma was an amazing person who I loved very much. People have no clue how rude they can be ...I get that with my name( I guess your mother didn't like you did she, to name you that)

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    1. Are you kidding? That's an outrageously rude AND stupid thing to say to you. You have a beautiful name. Even if you didn't, how dare they. Clueless idiots.

      As for Judy Garland and Gloria Swanson, I had no idea. I just did a google search. It appears both were 4'11-1/2. Under 5' tall. Your grandma, Annie Bidwell, and I still win. Smiles.

      Thank you, Birgit.

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    2. whoops-Ok they were taller. I thought they were your same size...well you are all larger than life to me. Yeah-people are stupid until proven otherwise

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    3. You're a sweetheart, Birgit. Judy Garland is still larger than life to me. =)

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  20. This is someone who clearly is lacking the tact gene. I run across people like this all the time. They are everywhere :) Don't let them get to you, Robyn. You are much too good for them.

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    1. Thank you, Martha. I have to work on letting things go. Not sure why this one hit particularly hard. That kind of thing hasn't happened to me in a while. Guess I'm lucky for that. The tact gene seems to be fading into extinction.

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  21. To me, it's a clear cut case of bullying.
    I'll bet he wouldn't like it if you called him "peanut dick!"

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    1. Haha. Thanks Pat. I imagine that (1) he WOULDN'T like it and (2) he'd wonder how I knew.

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  22. If it helps, tall people get this crap, too. My 6'6" teenage grandson has people all the time commenting on his height. He even gets challenged on why he doesn't play basketball. He finally started answering, "because I'm no good at it."

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    1. Thank you, LD. It does help. I love that your grandson responds that way. For the same reason, I'm not a gymnast. I'm not good at that.

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  23. I, too, am vertically challenged. I've heard all the jokes. They called me PLP in school: Public Leaning Post, then they would put their elbows on my head. That was then changed to Pubic Leaning Post in middle school. Super creative guys. My dad always said, "Great things come in small packages," and then had a t-shirt made for me that said so...which I wore while the song "Short People Have No Reason To Live" blared during the all skate at our local skating rink. *sigh* What's a short chick to do? ;) Love you bunches my short friend!

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    1. We are packed with all sorts of spunk and goodness, my short friend. Love you bunches too. Much gratitude.

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