The tissue box I need to refill the kitchen supply perches atop the shrink-wrapped cube of toilet paper. At 5’3” that puts if pretty far out of my range. I lean in and with my finger extended to its furthest, tip the cube just enough to send the tissue box hurtling toward me.
Being vertically challenged is a way of life. Most of the world is built for people 5’8” or taller. I’m used to standing on my toes to reach the labels atop the oil tanks (Fustis) at work and think nothing of climbing up and down rickety stools around the kitchen. Changing light bulbs in the ceiling fixtures requires careful balance and planning. Today I scaled the shelves in the stock room at work to reach a box. It was full of foam shippers, so the balancing was merely keeping my body upright.
In Jakarta, people were small. I was tall and lanky by comparison, I always felt I towered over everyone. Most of my life has been spent gazing no higher than other’s shoulders. It was so convenient in a crowd, (everything involved a crowd in that city of 9 million +) as I could see over everyone’s head. The kitchens there were designed for local hired help and were scaled to about 1/3 the height of American counters. I didn’t do a lot of cooking there but it was lovely to feel tall and willowy all day.
My father was short, my mother slightly taller. I never realized this discrepancy in height until very late in life. A person’s bearing can overcome great challenges. When my Dad walked into a room full of people, he grew six inches and filled his surrounding space with charm and control. He often commented the Kennedy’s could charm the skin off a snake but I believe he secretly aspired to that same lofty goal.
I inherited my vertical challenge, and learned to disguise it behind a wall of self-confidence. In order to never cower and look small, one must be loud in unobtrusive ways. I walk with a banging-heel step that announces my entrance, or direction of travel. Regardless if I am barefoot or in 3″ heels, you will hear me before you see me. It’s not something I ever consciously developed. In fact, I never noticed that I walk any different from anyone else until it was pointed out my freshman year in the college dorm. My roommate claimed she could tell when I entered the building, even from our room on the second floor. Good posture and a sense of purpose also help.
One day when Hanni and I were working at the store together, a rather burly, male customer remarked, “You two must be related! She is tiny but I can hear her coming a mile away!” She too has unconsciously adopted the walk.
Here’s to short people and Randy Newman be damned!!
By the way, this ceiling fan will never, ever, in my lifetime be dusted by me…