6 Ways Life Is Different If You're Short and Male
I'm 5 feet 6 inches tall. I know, I know. It's shocking; I write like a man who's at least 5-foot-10, but there it is. I'm 5 feet 6 inches.
I've been 5 feet 6 inches since I was 18, which came as a bit of a shock, because I was hoping to keep growing. I even put 5 feet 7 inches on my license thinking I'd grow into it. But I didn't. I guess I could have gone back to the DMV when I was 22 and said "Please change this," but I didn't. So yeah, don't believe everything you read. I'm 5 feet 6 inches. Well, you can believe that, because, as I said, I'm 5 feet 6 inches. Even when I was 18 I said 5 feet 6 inches and then explained about how licenses last for four years so I was estimating. I was a cool kid. Five feet 6 inches.
"Wait. How tall?"
Anyway, having been this height for quite some time, I've learned a few things I'd like to share with you, and here they are: 6 Things No One Tells You About Being a Short Guy.
People Will Accuse You of Lying About Your Height
Yes, some short guys lie about their height. It's true. But y'know what? That's not just a short guy thing. Guys lie about their height. Back me up here, ladies. Isn't every dude on eHarmony who is shorter than 6 feet magically 5 feet 10 inches? Also how many of those 6-foot guys are actually 5 feet 11 inches? Lots.
And yeah, Prince, Michael J. Fox, and Tom Cruise are all actually 4 feet 11 inches despite what it says in their online bios, but that's not the point. Not all short guys lie about their height, and not all height lying is confined to short guys.
So yeah, I'm 5 feet 6 inches. I just told you. All of you. And it's the truth. Don't believe me? Well, I guess I can't do anything about that. Never mind. I don't get paid to disprove you anyway. I have nothing more to add. This was really more of a bonus point for the article. Moving on.
You Go From Boy to Little Old Man
I have no idea why people equate height with age, since most of us stop growing by 18, but they do. When I was 30, people thought I was 22. Yes, I had washboard abs; yes, my skin was smooth and beautiful, like a perfectly crafted Michelangelo sculpture; yes, my hair flowed smoothly with Adonis-like grace, but I don't think that was it. I think it was because I'm short. For some reason, people always think short guys are younger, as if you're still developing.
Even in his 30s, Dustin Hoffman was often carded while attempting to buy beer.
But here's the thing. One day, overnight, you're suddenly no longer mistaken for a teen. You've instantly become a little old man. Right now, I'm existing in that tiny grace moment between the two, clutching desperately to the former while slipping into the abyss, knowing one morning I will wake up and be this:
This photo of Dustin Hoffman was taken only one week after the one above.
You Can't Stand Too Close to Tall People
So you're walking around being short and it's no big deal. I mean, you've got a great center of gravity, and when you're 16 and somewhat broad, all the high school wrestling coaches bug you to try out because you'll kick ass in your weight class. You forget about it. But then you come in contact with the freakishly tall. That's fine, right? I mean, it would be just as weird and wrong to ostracize giants as it would be to mock short dudes.
But here's the thing: You just cannot stand next to them. It's the worst. Here's me and DOB with Michael Swaim many years ago. See?
Swaim is not standing on anything.
When a short guy stands next to a freakishly tall guy, he is no longer a short guy. Hell, he's not even a guy anymore. He becomes some sort of halfling. A mythical creature devoid of testosterone or the right to be loved. We have no choice. We just have to avoid it. Watch The Daily Show when my hero, Jon Stewart, has a tall guest. He actually takes a step back to create distance and lets his guest sit before he does. I don't blame him. I do the same thing in real life. (By the way, he's my hero for being smart, funny, and eloquent, not because we're next to each other on a Judaic comedic height/weight chart.)
Don't be alarmed. The Daily Show also takes place in real life.
The Shoe Jokes End When People Start Having Sex
So there are certain rumors about penises. One of them is that you can tell the size of a man's junk by his shoe size. Kids really dig that rumor, and that's too bad for the short guy, because most short guys don't have disproportionally huge feet. But here's some good news for the short guy: This rumor totally dies by the time people start having sex, and, y'know, seeing penises.
And that makes sense, because once the sexual experience kicks in, folks find plenty of tall guys not packing and lots of small guys who are fully equipped. People worship Kurt Vonnegut for his prose and philosophy, but for me, this passage from Slaughterhouse Five always held the most truth and beauty:
"Montana was naked, and so was Billy, of course. He had a tremendous wang, incidentally. You never know who'll get one."
Truly beautiful. Now, I'm in no way implying that simply because the shoe rumor is a fallacy that the opposite is true. There is no implication here that I'm walking around with a circus penis. I'm just saying that by the time people get some sexual experience, they realize that the rumor equating shoe and penis size is a lie.
The rumor about noses, however, is totally accurate.
You're Invisible to Certain Women
So here's a bit of a downer: If you're a short dude, you will sort of disappear -- at least to certain women. Now, I want to be clear about what I mean here. Everyone, male or female, has types and preferences. That's only normal. I'm not saying that some women find being short an unattractive quality. I'm saying that, for certain women, if you're under, say, 5 feet 9 inches, you might as well be under 1 feet 9 inches, because they simply won't see you.
Here's me in the bar from the perspective of such a woman.
We've all strutted by someone with the hope of catching their eye, and we've all failed upon occasion, but what I'm talking about is failing to even register. You are a ghost. And not the sexy Patrick Swayze kind that makes out with Demi Moore while throwing clay. More like Seth Green if he were dead.
Pretend I have the Photoshop skills to make Seth transparent.
If You're Assertive, You'll Be Accused of Having a Napoleon Complex
This is the one that really pisses me off. My oldest brother is 5 feet 10 inches, my middle brother is 5 feet 8 inches, and, as I said, I'm 5 feet 6 inches. We were all raised with certain things drilled into us. Stand up straight; don't put your head down; and if someone hits you, hit them back. Those were the big lessons of our youth. They were true for all of us regardless of our respective heights.
When there was a problem at school, my parents insisted that we address things with our teachers ourselves before they became involved. While other parents would send off their kids to sleep-away camps in pairs with their best friend or write letters to principals to make sure certain children were in their kid's class, my parents didn't do any of that. They trusted that we would deal with whatever experiences came. We were also told we could say anything to an adult that we'd say to our friends (as long as we weren't rude or "fresh").
When I think of all the lessons of our youth, it's pretty clear that we were raised to be assertive, self-reliant men, and I think we've all done our best to live up to that standard. And that's true for my oldest brother who's pushing 6 feet and me, who could share a wardrobe with Al Pacino.
Ooh, I'll take that black velvet scarf, please!
But even though I'm just being the kind of man I was raised to be, suddenly all of my motivations are questioned. Suddenly I'm compensating, or I have that dreaded Napoleon complex. Are there short men who are angry, who go around barking to command respect? Sure there are, but my parents raised me to be an assertive man when I was still a little boy of unknown potential height. Saying that every opinionated short guy has a Napoleon complex is like saying that every Cracked columnist has a small penis. Sure, it's true most of the time, but look at Kristi Harrison!
It's just a drag to think that you have to suppress your opinions for fear of having them attributed to something beyond your control. It's no different from a Jew feeling that he has to tip extra well to avoid the stigma of being cheap or a black guy refraining from eating fried chicken to avoid that stereotype. I'm not sure if heightism is a thing, but that certainly feels like it. So when I tell you you're wrong and I have a better idea, just understand that it's because I'm smarter than you and I'm an asshole. Not because I'm short.
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