The Perspective of the Vertically Challenged Spouse (or short person)

(Originally posted on my old blog on October 18, 2009)

What prompted the idea for this subject was my needing to get a bottle of V-8 juice off of a high shelf, put there by my husband. When we were putting groceries away, he put the juice on the shelf closest to the ceiling in our laundry room and even though I had a step stool (the kind that has a fold down seat on top), I still needed to climb on top of the washing machine, to reach it.

This isn’t the first time I’ve had an issue like this. To clarify, I’m not a little person (like on TLC’s “Little People, Big World”). I’m just an average short person. I’m 5 feet, 3.5 inches tall. I just barely still qualify to buy “petite” clothes (the pants tend to be slightly too short if I buy them in that size so I buy “Average” and hem them a bit). My husband is nearly a whole foot taller than me. So he’s looking at life and looking at things from a different perspective, literally. Putting away groceries that I would regularly use, more than he would, is just one of our differences. Just as he’s not thinking to put things lower, I dont think to look for things higher than my eye level. There have been several times when I’ve looked in our refrigerator for what I know is a full jug of milk or juice, that should be there, and isn’t. I can look everywhere, within my eye level or below and not find it until maybe I happen to look up and find the item on top of the fridge. What usually happens in this case is that my husband will need something in the refrigerator that is in the back, so he’ll take out the milk or juice that is in front of it, put it up on top of the fridge, and then forget to put it back. Since I’m not looking up high for milk or juice on top of the fridge, I usually don’t find it until the beverage is warm (or until it falls on my head when I open the refrigerator. No brain injury yet)). It’s something for us both to improve on.

My need to adjust to living with taller people didn’t start when I married. I was born to taller parents. My dad was nearly 5′ 11″, and my mother was nearly 5′ 9″ (she wore 3″ heels most of the time and wore her hair rather poofy which made her look taller). When I was little, it was assumed that I would be taller like my parents. My mother calculated my full height when I was two, using a formula she found in my baby book. Using those calculations, the results showed that I would be the height that I am now. She reconfigured it several times because “certainly she can’t be THAT short!”. But, my paternal grandmother’s gene pool kicked in (she was just over 5′ 2″) and I never became a tall person. My grandma would tell me several times, “I stopped growing when I was 12 and so will you” and “You’ll never be taller than me”.

Well I did stop growing when I was 12. Until then, I was a little taller than all of my friends, and then when I stopped growing, they all started. Within one year after my 12th birthday, all of my friends were significantly taller than me. From then on, I felt the need to remind the adults at church and school (actually the same place) that I was still the same age as my friends. Because I was shorter, it was suddenly assumed that I was younger. When we went on field trips and had to take separate cars, there were many times I was sent to ride in the car designated for “the younger students”. If we had to stand according to height for a picture or class presentation, the shorter row was referred to as “the younger students”. A friend of mine who went to that same school always remembers that I was a stickler about letting folks know that I was older than my friends. She was surprised that it didn’t seem to be an issue with me now. Well when you’re grown, and so is everyone else, no one is mistaking you for being a 6th grader when you’re in high school (and when you turn 40, you really don’t mind if people think that you’re younger!).

Living with a tall parent was a challenge for both of us. My mom would put things up high because that is where she’d look for them (just like the situation that I live in now) and I rarely ever did unless she told me to. When I would walk with her, she took longer strides, so I had to race walk to keep up with her. She heard a song about short people on a tv show, and liked to tease me by singing that song. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a song about tall people to sing back to her. I think that being shorter hindered my mother from seeing me as an adult as well. She really didn’t see me as an adult, until I was 26, when I married. Until then, I was little and still viewed as a little girl. I think that my aunt’s view of me was the same as my mother’s because once I married, she didn’t know how to relate to me or talk to me at all.

People who had known me since I was 2, assumed that I would be tall like my mom and would assume that I was in 6th grade and would say “Oh, you have plenty of time to grow” and “You’re going to be tall like your mother” and when I’d say that I quit growing, they’d ask, “Well how old are you now” and I’d say, “Twenty”, to which they’d stop smiling and say “oh”.

Now being short or “vertically challenged” (as a former co-worker told me once), has brought on some interesting requests. We’re asked to look under things more because I guess it’s easier for us or because we’re closer to the ground. The oddest request that I’ve ever had was from a tall female coworker. I used to work in a grocery store deli, and we saw alot of male customers or venders during the day, and this coworker always managed to see someone who she thought was cute, and she wanted to look her best when he came by our counter (we were wearing greasy aprons and smelling like fried chicken, jo-jo’s & bleach, how could we really improve on that?). Anyway, any time “cute” guy was heading our way, she’d ask “Lisa, quick! Look! Do I have boogers up my nose?” Yes, that’s right, apparently short people can be “booger inspectors” for tall folks. I never did put THAT on my resume!

I guess that being shorter is also something that is sometime envied a little. Something that my mom told me on many occasions, was that “at least you won’t have to worry about finding a husband who is taller than you”. I guess she was right. I found one who is quite a bit taller. Tall enough to get the things off of those high shelves……….the things that he originally put up there.

I don’t have a picture to coincide with this blog entry. I thought that I could take a picture of myself next to my actual height on the measuring tape, but I just don’t feel like taking the time to do that. I could also post a picture of my husband and myself to show our height difference, however, he really doesn’t like me to post pictures of him because he doesn’t think that he photographs well (I think that he looks fine, but I’ll respect his wishes……….for now). Lp


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