Sunday, 6 July 2008
What is the World Like Up There?
There is an article on the front page of today's New York Times that describes, in part, John McCain's struggle with the teleprompter. The focus of the article is actually about McCain's somewhat futile attempts to improve his rather poor public speaking in more traditional "front of the audience" forums, rather than the folksy fireside chats that seem to better suit him. What caught my eye was Mr. McCain's problem with the stand lectern. It seems that most of these podiums dwarf the Republican candidate due to his small stature. Finally, there is something about John McCain that I can relate to. You see, I am short. I know that this will come as a shock to many of you who know me, but it is true. I am short. Actually, I am quite short. Yup, I am!! I am not vertically challenged, nor am I small in stature, I am just plain short! I always have been and I always will be. Unlike my weight, there is no fad diet nor magic pill nor elixir that can alter my shortness. Unlike my hair colour, there is no dye that can change my lack of centimetres. I hit this height (a shade under 5ft) when I was 13 and I haven't seen a growth spurt since. In the words of one of the all-time great sailors (just like you Mr. McCain!) "I yam what I yam!!" (Popeye)
Being short hasn't stopped me from pretending. In seventh grade, I actually tried out for the basketball and volleyball teams. I figured, what the hell did I have to lose. At least the coach would be amused. I was quite the sight, next to the amazonian types who could actually put the ball through the hoop and spike over the net! Me, well I could walk under the volleyball net without ducking or it touching the top of my hair. In high school, I shared locker space with the tallest girl in the class due to an accident of the alphabet. My locker mate hit 6ft plus in 10th grade. I came to her waist.
Of course the world was not designed for us short people, as Mr. McCain is discovering. When I was learning how to drive way back in the polyester days of the 70s, car seats didn't adjust well enough for me to reach the pedals effectively or see over the dashboard comfortably. When the husband was attempting to teach me to drive a manual transmission, I literally had to stand upright on the clutch to depress it to the floor. Basic kitchen or bathroom countertops are usually placed an inch or two too high for me to safely cut vegetables without standing on my toes or to put on make up without a boost. The latest trend in many stores, is to place the check out areas on raised podiums so that the counters for payment are literally at my eye level. I almost need to stand on a box to sign my VISA slips. And, please don't get me started about banks! I often use the wheelchair accessible sinks in public restrooms so that I don't wet my clothes and look ridiculous.
My feet don't reach the floor on most chairs. I often remove my shoes in restaurants because my legs get cramped from freely swinging under the table. Instead, I now just sit cross-legged on my seat while eating my meals. The husband has had to scrounge under many a restaurant table searching for my other shoe after dinner. I can't reach any shelf in my home without my trusty step ladder. I have been known to bellow on many occasions for the husband or the sons to come and "be my height"!! I need to shorten petite clothes and I can't find shoes that fit unless I want to wear mary-janes! I stand on a box at high holidays to see over the podium and I need a Rubbermaid stool to read the Torah!! (Take that Mr. McCain!!!)
I have heard all the jokes and then some. I refuse to listen to the morons who want to know if I am a Hobbit or if my relatives are garden gnomes. Randy Newman: "BITE ME"!! I would never ask the tall guy "Does your nose bleed at that altitude" so why is it ok to try and carry me around. I am short, not afflicted!! I am quite comfortable with who I am and it has never been something that I saw as a handicap. Maybe Mr. McCain can use this tremendous opportunity of running for president to affect some serious changes for us shorties!! His first order of business should be to commission the building of a lectern that doesn't make him look like less than he is. He can let his speeches take care of that!!!