I have always been vertically challenged. At the age of four people thought I was a flippin’ genius because of my uncanny ability to walk and talk. I looked like a walking infant. For many years I actually thought my name was, “Ahhh!!”
Friends and strangers alike thought they were ingenious giving me nicknames like Pee Wee, Short Stuff, Midget, Elf, Pygmy, Dwarf. I learned how to fake smile at a very early age.
In middle school my mother bought my clothes from the store windows in the downtown Los Angeles fashion district. The clothes in the storefront were miniature like the furniture that’s used today in model homes to make the rooms look larger. No wonder my friends didn’t like to stand next to me, I made them feel like freakin’ Giants.
I would have given my eye teeth to have been able to wear the styles that everyone else was wearing. That just wasn’t possible, so I was adorned with avocado green plaid skirts, matching plaid shoes and purse. I looked like a store manikin with poor taste only shorter.
When I was sixteen I was the size of a ten year old and the adorableness was wearing on me. My friends parents invariably would scoot me out to play with their 5th graders and I’d have to explain my way out of the exodus by convincing them I was a friend of their high school child.
“Nah” they’d say and chuckle at the great humor of it all. So, in puberty my name changed from “Ahh” to “Nahh!!”
I didn’t get to experience the big boy whistles nor the head out-the-car window cat calls of my peers and I darn sure had to learn to swim at a very young age to be able to wade in the ocean with my friends without drowning.
As a teenager my favorite thing to do was go to the movies. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I learned not everybody had a head blocking their view nor did their legs fall asleep from the lack of blood as their feet dangled from the seat.
For over half a century I scaled counter tops and stood on sinks to reach the dishes, soaps and cereals. I’ve now graduated to a step stool in every room and my swollen knee bones thank me. I also have less cuts and bruises from the myriad of life threatening incidents that comes from suspending from cupboard doors or falling head first from the top of the washing machine.
I once got caught upside down between the wall and the dryer and had to figure out how to unfold my contortionist body and remove my smashed face away from the wall without denting the appliances. More importantly, I was determined not to have my family’s last memory of me be on the floor of the laundry room.
Now, the only time I attempt to do these death defying stunts is when I retrieve my mail. It just seems a little cumbersome to bring a ladder with me when I pay bills.
When I was thirty-three, a bartender asked for my ID after I ordered a Martini. The people I was with were the same age and didn’t get carded. That is the day the table finally turned. Evidently my friends looked a lot older than me because of their height! Ask any child which adult is older and they’ll invariable pick the tall one.
Not so long ago I was carded at Festival Cinemas. It was the first time in over thirty years and I couldn’t believe my ears, so I asked a second time.
“You want to see my I.D.? Really?”
I thought. It must be his first day on the job, then saw his shiny new badge displaying Assistant Manager.
He looked at me in all seriousness and said, “Yes I do!”
At first I was insulted by this young mans skepticism, then realized this was a banner day for me.
I inconveniently reached in my purse making sure he didn’t see the contraband of homemade popcorn, store bought candy and bottled water, then flung out my drivers license and asked,
“What kind of idiot would lie about getting a Senior Discount anyway?”
Well, the moral to the story – I still got it and you can call me Shorty!