Monday, April 18, 2011
THE LONG AND SHORT OF AGING
I made a shocking discovery the other day. Somewhere, somehow, I’ve lost nearly two inches in height.
For as long as I can remember, I was always 5’7” and considered to be tall. In grade school, I towered over most of the boys, which made it difficult for me to find a dance partner whose head I couldn’t use for a chin rest.
And every time photos were taken of me with the kids in my junior-high class, I always seemed to be standing next to the tiniest guy there, Charlie Groleau (I always thought his last name was kind of ironic, considering his small stature), so I’d usually end up looking as if I should be living at the top of a beanstalk and shouting, “Fee fi fo fum!”
Dating also was difficult because most of the guys who asked me out were about 5’6” tall. I loved to wear high heels because I thought they made my chunky legs look longer and slimmer. Add to the fact that teased, beehive hairstyles were all the rage back then, and I ended up being about 6’1”.
My dad loved to tease me whenever I brought home a guy who was vertically challenged.
“Another one that you can eat peanuts off the top of his head!” Dad, right on cue, would joke after the guy had gone home.
I, however, failed to see the humor in the peanuts comment. Dad never changed the food to something else like French fries or Oreos. With him, it was always peanuts I could eat off the guy’s head.
Still, I wasn’t about to wear flat hair and flat shoes for any guy, not unless I wanted to show him just how chunky my legs really were or how fat my head was. Teased hair, after all, was a great camouflage for my oversized head because no one could tell how much actually was hair and how much was head.
When my friend Alice suggested I let her fix me up on a blind date with her fiance’s best friend, the first thing I asked was how tall he was. She answered with, “Oh, he’s sooooo cute! Dark hair, dark eyes, a great physique! And he’s such a nice guy, too!
“How tall is he?” I repeated.
“And he has a good job and a nice car, and he’s generous beyond words!”
“His height!” I shouted. “How tall is he?”
“Um, about 5’8”, give or take an inch.”
I rolled my eyes. Would I ever be able to wear my 3-inch heels on a date without feeling like Zita, Queen of the Amazons?
Luckily, the blind date turned out to be very casual, so I wore jeans and sneakers. And Alice turned out to be right. The guy was everything she’d said he was, and more. Less than a year later, I was out buying a wedding gown.
Even though I opted to wear only three-quarter-inch heels for the wedding, between my teased hair and the puffy wedding veil, I still was about two inches taller than my husband-to-be.
“I have an idea!” I told him a couple weeks before the wedding. “You can get some lifts to put in your shoes, and then we’ll be the same height!”
The look he gave me made me feel as if I’d just suggested something that qualified as grounds for a divorce before we even got married.
“You mean you want me to wear shoes with high heels on them so I’ll look like one of those flamenco dancers?” he asked.
“No, I’m talking about lifts,” I said. “They’re like thick, hard cushions you put inside your shoes to make you taller. No one can see them, so no one will even know you’re wearing them!”
So on our wedding day, my husband, wearing lifts in his rented shoes, walked down the aisle. He looked much taller, but the only problem was the lifts made his feet rise right out of his shoes by nearly two inches. So the backs of the shoes kept flopping because they had nothing to grab on to. As a result, they made clippity-clop noises whenever he walked. It sounded as if I were marrying a Clydesdale.
Our wedding photos, however, looked great.
But a funny thing happened after we got married. My husband shot up to over 5’10” within the first two years. Suddenly I could wear high heels and tease my hair and still look directly into his eyes. His explanation was he was just a late bloomer.
But now, over 40 years later, because I’m shrinking, he has close to five inches over me, which gives him a huge sense of satisfaction. In fact, just the other day he told me he still has the lifts he wore at our wedding and I could borrow them if I’d like.
And then he said he was going to go buy some peanuts.