On Being Short
Let's just get right to the facts:
I am (God Forbid) a "short man." At just 5 feet 5 inches tall, 95 out of 100 men are taller than me. If you're into percentiles, that puts me in the lower 5% of the male population! And if you think that sounds bad, you just wait; it gets worse...
The experts (on TV, in magazines, at universities, etc.) have taken it upon themselves to calculate the fate of "vertically disadvantaged" people like myself. As it turns out, I don't have a snowball's chance in Hell of leading a happy and successful life. I mean, they've done the research and, if you haven't heard, it ain't pretty. Here is what my "short stature" ultimately means:
For starters, it means I will be universally rejected by women. Ouch! Right off the bat, that's a rough one. (Who said life is fair?) Yep, apparently when it comes to giving the ladies what they want, a 6 foot 2 Jeffrey Dahmer beats a 5 foot 5 Joe Plummer all day long. Tough break, huh?
But it isn't just the women who'll reject me. Recent studies reveal that employers will snub me too! Not only will I be passed over for promotions, I'll be paid less for doing the same job. Oh well, I guess I better accept the cruel irony; as a short man I will be forever relegated to the bottom of the ladder.
I know what you're thinking: "It wouldn't be fair for an employer to discriminate against a person just because they're short." I used to think that too, but a new study from Princeton says it isn't so much about being short. Rather, the discrimination happens because short people are less intelligent than tall people, and therefore are worth less money. (Ah Ha! Now it all makes sense.)
Dumb, broke, unwanted AND short. God help me, should I just kill myself now? (Or should I thank my lucky stars I've NEVER accepted conventional wisdom as anything more than the hopelessly unreliable pile of shit that it tends to be...)
Now, if you're one of those people who enjoys dismissing entire segments of the population (sight unseen) while elevating the status of another segment with equal recklessness, you'll probably find little comfort in what I'm about to write. However, if you're like me (a person who despises the fundamental inaccuracies and ignorance of stereotypes), you'll be pleased to know:
I have NEVER had any problems with women. And that's going WAAY back. I was "gettin' busy" by age 13 and by 16 I was in a serious relationship with a 24-year-old woman. As far as my current status goes, I've been happily married for nearly 9 years.
And surely if it's OK for me to admit I'm in the lower 5% of the male population in height, it should be OK to admit I've scored in the upper 5% on the brain tests. This is great news for all you short people, average people, and even normal range tall people: All basketball players are not necessarily "smarter" than you (despite what a Princeton "study" might lead you to believe).
As for discrimination in the work place, I never picked up on it. But then again, maybe I didn't look hard enough. Maybe I should have spent more time searching for reasons (beyond my control) that explained why it was so damn hard for me to get where I wanted to go in life. Just think how much "better off" I might have been!!!
Sarcasm and satire aside; let me put a finer point on this pencil:
When it comes to determining the ultimate value of a human being, height is one of the smallest measures one can take. It provides no measure of a person's honesty or integrity. No measure of their talent or creativity. It reveals nothing about their courage, their work ethic, or what their time on this planet will ultimately yield for the good of humanity. And while we're at it, let's not forget the same holds true for all other inherited "fixed" attributes. (Like gender, skin color, physical beauty, parental pedigree, etc.)
Now, the last thing I want is for people to read this piece as a stern condemnation against any mention of what separates us from one another. Far from it! The other day a vertically challenged correspondent from the Tonight Show was interviewing and poking fun at some basketball players (in a light-hearted way.) In retaliation, a couple players took a jab back by referencing the correspondent's height and in both cases, what they said was genuinely funny. (In one case, I'm certain I actually laughed out loud and said "That's funny!") But only because none of it was done in a mean-spirited or condescending way. It's those who try to project an air of being "better than" others (because of a trait they had nothing to do with) that need a swift kick in the nuts. And the same for those who imply "a look" is all you need to determine the true size of a human being.
So what's your story? Are you no good at "being tall?" Or maybe no good at being "beautiful" or no good at having "rich parents" or "being white" or "black" or "Hispanic" (or whatever race that somebody is CLAIMING is the superior one?) Forgive me, but who cares? There are other things that you ARE good at (or could be good at) that are about 1,000 times more important.
In the end, there will always be people who don't know the difference between the "superficial" and truly substantivequalities that determine the value of a human being. They'll never understand that "being tall" or "being white" or "being rich" or "having big boobs" (etc.), means very little in the grand scheme of things. Meaningful relationships aren't based on any of these. Rather, meaningful relationships are based on characteristics that must be earned.