A Perception Of Height

This is a sign I have never really had to bother about.

I am only 5 feet 7 inches tall. Below average height in Europe, where I would be 1.7 metres. I have spent my life being shorter than almost all other men I have encountered, and many of the women I have met too. I first really noticed the difference when I was about 13 years old, and realised a girl I really liked was taller than me. Well, she was on the Netball Team, so I should have known. By the time I had grown to my full height, I was disappointed that I would be stuck with that for the rest of my life.

As I reached my late teens and was dating girls, I started to hate high-heeled shoes too. Some girls who were shorter than me immediately became taller once wearing shoes to go on a date. When I got to the pub with her, I became obsessed with trying to find another male shorter than me, so I wouldn’t be the shortest guy in the place.

Then I started work, and had to commute on public transport for a while. I could never see past any man standing nearby, and had to learn to count the stops, so I knew when to get off. Going to the cinema or theatre was a pain too, as if another man sat in front of me, it usually meant I had to watch the film or show with my head cranked to one side, so I could see over his shoulder.

Being short in Central London in the late 1960s wasn’t great either. Taller blokes (so almost all of them) would enjoy baiting me, or intimidating me. I had to develop a serious ‘attitude’ to avoid being pushed around or ridiculed. My long-term girlfriend at the time was almost as tall as me, so once she added heeled boots or shoes, I found myself having to glance up at her. She didn’t mind the difference, but I did.

But it does have some benefits. I have never hit my head on a car roof when getting in and out. I didn’t have to bend my knees up to my chin to be able to drive a car, and I could always find shoes and trousers in my size too. And I wasn’t ‘really short’. Not like some of the local boys who never got past 5 feet 2. I would have felt really sorry for them, and suggested they seek a career as a jockey, had it not been for the fact that most of them developed a real ‘little-man’ attitude, and became very aggressive. Presumably for self-protection.

It seemed that I was often a sucker for punishment too. My second wife was almost 6 feet tall in her bare feet, so with shoes on, she literally towered above me. The photos of our wedding look like she is escorting her little brother to a function. She didn’t mind our height difference at all. But I did.

Luckily, nobody ever made much of a fuss about it. I was never called ‘Little Pete’. In fact, I was far more likely to be called ‘Grumpy Pete’. Nobody ever called me ‘Shorty’, ‘Tich’, or ‘Half-Pint’. There were times I wondered if I was making too much of it. But then there were those signs, like the one above. As I walked under them, I didn’t dip down, or duck my head. Everyone else had to of course, including my ex-wife.

Over the decades, it came to matter less. I arrived in Beetley, retired from work, and stopped bothering about my height.

Then one day last year, I was walking with two lady dog-walkers over at Beetley Meadows. I know them well, and we often walk our dogs together. A small tree had fallen across the path, creating a kind of arch of its branches. As we walked through, I ducked under. Turning to wait for the two ladies, I saw one of them chuckling. I asked her what was funny, thinking I had missed a joke.

“You ducked under the branches, Pete. There was no need, they cleared your head by a mile. How tall do you think you are?”

67 thoughts on “A Perception Of Height

  1. Well, it isn’t any easier to take a picking of words when you’re older. Suddenly you’re thrown back into bad memories. I think you are taller than life, Pete. Don’t let the ones who really don’t know, get to you.
    .

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Once I retired, I came to terms with most things, Cindy. All those decades of being concerned what others thought about me slipped away like oil through fingers. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete. x

      Like

  2. I think there are some perks about being shorter/smaller. I’m a bigger guy (height and weight), and there are times that it is nice to be large and other times when it is quite the hindrance. When I’m trying to squeeze my wide girth under the sink to work on the plumbing, I often think, “Too bad I’m not a little smaller.”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You never know Pete a gust of wind may have drooped a branch just enough……. Imagine though a fashion conscious young lad in the 70’s over 6ft tall wearing those hideous platform shoes nearly broke me neck so many times just ducking (not enough) and felt I was so high nose bleed was a constant threat
    Hope your keeping well.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hey Pete. I thoroughly enjoyed your post. I chuckled a couple of times and though I’m 6ft I can relate differently – I’m bald. Hardest part was when I was at Uni in the UK and the thinning process had advanced. I noticed during conversations the other person wouldn’t maintain eye contact but instead stare at their reflection on my shiny dome. Now shaven heads don’t seem to be a big deal and are accepted in Nigeria. I say rock your height to the max 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Mine was the glasses I wore…I was called “Frogman”……I was always tall like my mother and uncles…..5’7” is about the average for the people on my father’s side….so you would fit in nicely….LOL chuq

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pete, I was one of the shortest boys at school when growing up. It wasn’t until I was in my last year or two of high school that I finally began to put on a few inches. I eventually reached six feet. I was also a skinny kid. Everyone around me assured me I’d be fat by the age of 30 (everyone in my family is fat), but even today I only weigh 175 lbs., though I’ve briefly weighed a bit more at times when I relied (ahem!) heavily on fast food for my main meal of the day. Finally, I remember wondering about hair loss, as my father began losing his at around age 40. As you know, I’m well past 60, and I still have a full head of hair. So my early expectations of being short were wrong. My early expectations of hair loss were wrong. And my family’s expectations that I would fatten up by age 30 were wrong.

    But I must state the obvious: height is relative. Examples: I’ve been in a Filipino supermarket where I felt like a giant; but I’ve also been in an elevator with a man whose chest was at my eye level, making me feel like a midget.

    Which reminds me of the two final lines of “Some Like It Hot”:
    Jerry [Jack Lemmon], removing his wig: “I’m a man!”
    Osgood [Joe E. Brown], unfazed: “Well, nobody’s perfect!”

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m just over 6 foot and I always bang my head off light fittings or low ceilings. Very old houses are the worst as people were shorter back then so they didn’t build them so tall. One time I was in such a place and, walking at speed from one room to another, I whacked my head off the doorframe. It nearly knocked me out and left a terrible bump. So it’s true what you say, being short definitely has its advantages!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. 😂 Seriously though, the other way round is no fun either. At the age of 12 I was 5’8 tall and I suffered more than I like to recall …
    Thanks for the good laugh, Pete! 😄
    It’s chilly and occasionally wet on the coast, good for the garden and it’s cosy inside.
    Big pats for Ollie. X

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Dina. I have known some very tall people who didn’t like being tall one bit.:)
      Dull here too, rain forecast for later.
      Pats delivered!
      Love from Beetley, Pete and Ollie. X

      Like

  9. Hehe. Know just how your feel Pete. I’m also 5’7″ tall! I was tall for my age at age 11 or 12 and then just stopped growing! It never bothered me much. Most Italian girls are 5’3″ or 4 and there are plenty of shorter girls around. I was popular as a kid and I think it was my sparkling personality and just a touch of athleticism. 🙂 At work it was more of a problem. Tall guys always seemed to get the job I wanted but as I rose through the ranks it became less of an issue.

    In the Army I was never “shortie’ – I was “four eyes” (I wear glasses) or “alphabet” – for my long name with lots of vowels!

    I always considered big guys less ecologically friendly! We can do everything they can do in a more compact package!

    Best from Florida.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. One surprising thing about it was that I never had any trouble getting girlfriends or wives. I had to develop my good-humoured charm to attract them, in the absence of being tall. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Well it’s nice that now, at last, you can have a chuckle about it! Nobody is ever satisfied with their appearance—if it’s not the height, it’s the hair, too straight, too curly, the wrong colour. Or the nose, the eyes, the weight. Really beautiful people, like models, are as self-conscious as the rest of us, and hate the fact they are applauded for their looks, and not their brains. My husband, who is tall, has had to live his life with his knees squashed against his chest in planes, buses and cars, and sleeping sideways crookedly in beds that are too short. We finally ordered a custom bed, and sheets to go with it, and they cost a bomb!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Being very tall is equally as annoying I’m sure, Marina. One of my best friends was 6 feet 7, and took size 14 shoes (UK). One of his feet was the same length as both of mine placed end to end. He had trouble buying anything remotely fashionable, hit his head on things all the time, and had to have his driver’s seat specially adapted in his car.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

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