I stopped growing at the age of fourteen. For the past fifty years, I have been exactly five feet three inches tall. I took pride in the fact that I was taller than my sisters. I wasn’t tall, but I was secure in my place in the family. Until last week. The Home Health Nurse measured me for the first time in years. I was, to my shock and disbelief, five feet, two and a half inches. I was so astounded, I could only gasp out, “What?” Then resorted to deep slow breaths to calm my nerves.
Not that I have anything against short folks. It is just that I already had enough trouble reaching things at 5’3”. Counters, cupboards, the top shelf in a grocery store were already out of reach. Now they are half an inch higher, so unless I have a step ladder, I will never reach the last bottle of Diet Doctor Pepper on the top shelf of the grocery. Not without asking for help.
Not that I won’t ask for help, but when I do the taller person acts like her or she wants to pat me on the head and pinch my cheeks because I am so cute. Cute is for bunny rabbits, not old women with an attitude and bad temper. But it happens all the time now. I can hear the carefully suppressed, “Aww, she is so cute,” every time I need someone to hand me something I can’t reach. It makes me clinch my teeth when I tell them thanks for helping. I may be old, and I may be short, but I am not cute.
I can’t change what is, even if I don’t understand how this happened. I am old, truth in that. Can’t change it either. There are so many frustrations that come with being short. Ever try to buy a pair of sweats? They come in one length, generally, and unless I get the trousers with elastic in the legs, they are always two inches too long or longer. So I have to hem them, or resort to wearing high heel tennis shoes. The shoes don’t work too well in a gym, or even for walking far. Vastly vexing. Even more so is the shirt sleeve issue. Just because I am short does not mean I have arms like an orangutan. Finding a long sleeve shirt that fits in the arms is very rare. I have to resort to rolling up the sleeve, or pushing it up on my arm to be able to use my hands. Short arms, short legs, short person. How hard is that for manufacturers to understand?
The hardest thing about being short is being in a crowd of people. Folks who are taller than me fall into two groups, those whose elbows hit me in the chest and those whose elbows hit me in the face. I am always dodging an elbow because people simply don’t see me, just like they don’t see a child in a crowd. No one remembers to look down when checking out a crowd. It is all about looking ahead at shoulder height. Not only am I over looked, I am totally dismissed by the tall as I fight my way through the chaos. No wonder I hate Christmas shopping so much. In fact, I hate crowds and will only face one for something like an Elton John concert. (Brilliant performance by the way.)
So here I am, unable to change being old and short (and cute apparently). I have few choices left in this mess. I can be hateful and mean to those around me, or I can use the situation to my advantage by being the helpless little old lady that inspires the young and tall to want to pat me on the head, pinch my cheeks, and think of me as (gag) cute. Meanwhile, I am going to go educate my cussing corner with a few choice words it has never heard before. Cute being one of them.