Wednesday, April 22, 2009

S.H.O.R.T. People

I was deleting old pictures from my computer today when I came across the one shown here. This photo was taken at my son John’s wedding almost three years ago. That’s my husband Fred on the left and my daughter-in-law Cheryl’s parents, Chris and John, on the right. The short one in the middle is me.

Now I know I’m height challenged, but gee whiz! Why didn’t I think to stand on a box when the photographer took this picture? I look like an elf surrounded by giants!

Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against tall people, especially the three in this photo. I don’t mind craning my neck to look up at them. (Considering my husband is 6’ 2", I’ve been doing exactly that for forty years.) And I don’t mind that they talk over my head – physically, not mentally – when we’re conversing. I don’t even mind being shaded like a weed by a stand of pine trees, me standing in their tall shadows while they get to enjoy the nice summer sun on their backs. Years of being patted on the head by my taller sons has taught me to overlook such minor drawbacks.

But being short does have its disadvantages. Take slow dancing for example. When I dance with my husband, I get a wonderful view of his shirt buttons, and that’s about it. Oh, sure. Cuddling up against his solar plexus is fun for a while, but hey! It gets warm down there! Breathing isn’t too easy either when he’s holding you tight and your face is squished up against his suit jacket. Every once in a while you’re forced to back off just to grab a bit of air. And try stealing a quick kiss from the guy. You’re liable to throw your neck out of joint before your lips even meet his.

So all right, short folks like me don’t spend every evening slow dancing with their SOs. But there are other handicaps we endure. Try shopping in any food store. Everything on your list just happens to be on the top shelf at least three inches out of your reach. Have you ever balanced one foot on a shopping cart and the other on a row of canned peas while stretching for a bottle of cooking wine? I have, and I can tell you, contorting yourself in that manner isn’t pretty. I felt like a rejected acrobat from Cirque du Soleil as I lunged for the wine while my cart slithered sideways across the aisle. There I was, doing the splits just so my husband could have Beef Stroganoff for dinner.

Ah, yes. We shorties do face some unique challenges in life. In order to help my compadres face those challenges with grace and dignity, I’ve decided to form a support group for folks 5’4" and under. The name of the group will be S.H.O.R.T. People, which stands for "Stout Hearted Order of Relatively Tiny People". We will meet annually in February, the shortest month of the year, in Florida, the state reputed to have the highest population of short people. Only people wearing short shorts will be allowed to attend the meeting, which will end shortly after it begins. By a vote of 1-0 (mine being the only vote since there's no one else in the group yet) Danny DiVito will be honored at the meeting as Short Celebrity of the Present and Napolean as Short Celebrity of the Past.

If you’d like to join the S.H.O.R.T. People support group, just add a short comment below. I'll get back to you shortly.


  1. Mary, I'm five foot almost two, and I'd like to join SHORT. I remember the day in the grocery store when I helped a very frail, elderly lady reach a package in the frozen food case. "Thank you," she said. "I was just waiting for someone tall to come along."

    Yea, that's me. The tall one.

    Gayle "Taller in Her Head" Carline

  2. Mary, I hear you. Jim is 6'0" and I'm 4'11". As a kids' writer, when I go into a school, I can disappear in any crowd of fourth graders. And junior high students? Forget it. I routinely climb the dairy shelves at the store to get my milk (always on the top shelf) and sometimes will substitute or even skip if I can't reach something and there's no stockboy around when I need one.

    I'll tell you what, though. When I'm moving, I'm a very hard target to hit.


  3. Me! Me! I'll join SHORT! My hubby is one foot taller than I, so you're preachin' to the choir, Mary! I feel your pain, from photos, to the grocery store, I'm with ya girl friend.

    Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend the annual meetings. Me in short shorts? That ship sailed years ago!


  4. I'm not short, coming in at 5'7", but I would like to nominate my mom for membership. She is just a hair (literally) over 5'. Good news is, she lives in Florida, so you can all stay with her for your meeting.

    Just FYI, ya;ll are my favoritist short people ever.

  5. I had been thinking of suing Mary for my chiropractic visits. Doing signings with her causes members of T.A.L.L. like me to slap an ice pack on my neck for an hour. It is cute though the way her feet don't touch the ground when she sits. She looks like Lily Tomlin during one of her comedic routines. There is a remedy to this, Mary. It's called five-inch heels. You can add height but members of T.A.L.L. (Tri-city Association of Long Legs) can't reduce their height. Course, anyone who has been watching Harper's Island knows a quick way to lop off a few feet.

  6. Where do I sign up? Checking in at 5'2-1/2" here. I have those long handled tongs in the kitchen that I use to reach cereal boxes from the top shelf. I auditioned for the remake of the Wizard of Oz, but they tried to cast me as the witch so I left.


  7. I'm only average at 5-6 but I'm feeling sympathetic as the shortest one in the house these days (who fed my kids miracle gro?)

    Loved the post - needed the laugh!


  8. I'm shrinking, lost almost half an inch in height, while gaining the same amount on the waist.

    Must learn to reverse this.


  9. Count me in. I'm 5', my husband is 6' and my son is 6' 2". People ask where I get my energy, as if being short deprives one of the will to enjoy life. Beth Solheim

  10. Nothing wrong with being short, though at just under 5', I wouldn't mind a couple more vertical inches. Nothing worse than standing in the WalMart aisle waiting for someone taller to help as the thing I need is waaaay up on the highest shelf.

    But? The only solution I figure is a few turns on the rack. ha!

  11. Oh, yeah! The cry of the short person has been heard! I loved your story, Gayle. You should adopt that elderly lady -- she's a real ego booster! :)

    Ophelia, I can see you climbing the grocery shelves. One nasty word from a stockboy and you'd whip out your knives. :)

    Mary, you won't have to worry about wearing shorts to our annual meeting -- we're all short-sighted (which is a way of saying near-sighted) and won't even notice your knees!

    Karen, thanks for offering your mom's home in Florida. Tell her to stock up on chocolate and champagne!

    Pam, you as a witch?? Never! At 5'2", you'd be a shoe-in for the Lollipop Gang!

    Regan, I think Norm needs some of that MiracleGro. And Beth, you could give Norm some of your energy (as if he really needs it -- the guy is a one man circus!)

    But you're right, Beth. Being short doesn't mean we're DEAD!!

    CandidCanine, you ought to get together with Sandy considering the methods of torture you both mentioned! The rack? Hmmm. Think I'll take a pass on that one.

    Sandy, as for you and T.A.L.L, just remember -- I KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE, LADY! WATCH OUT!!!!!!

  12. I am not short myself since I am about 5 foot 6 1/2 inches tall, but my sister is about 5 foot 1 inches. Her biggest complaint was always about buying shoes. She had to shop in the childrens section to get shoes that fit.

  13. Mary, you're not too short. They're all too tall - just a bunch of freaks if you ask me.