The following is an excerpt from “Tall,” Paul Shirley’s essay in Machine Wash Warm, the FlipCollective e-magazine.
Machine Wash Warm can be purchased here.
Tall, by Paul Shirley
It happens at bars, beaches, and bathrooms. It doesn’t matter if it’s early morning, late afternoon, or the middle of the night. Sometimes it comes in the form of a question. Sometimes it’s a statement. Sometimes it’s just a stare.
It is this: a reaction to my height.
I’m six feet, nine inches tall. I’m a foot taller than the average human male. An inch taller than the average human doorway. Japanese cars, New York subways, and airplane lavatories: we do not get along.
So, yeah, I’m tall.
But I’m not that tall.
I’m only four inches taller than someone who’s 6’5”. I’m six inches taller than the average Dutch male. I’m not seven-foot-nine. I’m not even seven-foot-nothing.
I’m not a freak.
Or so I think. The rest of the world does not agree, which is brought to my attention every time the sun rises and I interact with my fellow sapiens d’homo. The only real mystery is how it will happen. The range of the methods people use to broach the subject is as wide as I am (perceived to be) tall.
The most common is also the most obvious.
“How tall are you?”
Bothersome, this. A person has asked me a very specific question about the dimensions of my body; something humans would not do under most conditions. To wit, I don’t ask girls to tell me the diameters of their vaginas.
But I grudgingly respect the broadside attack.
“Six-nine,” I can say, and be done with it.
If it’s a cute girl, or a guy who seems like he might be vaguely interesting to talk to, I might ask my inquisitor to guess how tall I am. Or I might respond with the truth and volley back like I’m John McEnroe and it’s 1982: “I’m six-nine. How tall are you?”
To read the rest of this piece, along with other, all-new work from Hank Layton, Jenny Bahn, Mick Shaffer, Riley Breckenridge, Rosicky Jones, Tom Dinard, and Brian Oliu (or have said work read to you by the authors, in the Machine Wash Warm audiobook) buy Machine Wash Warm now:
(When you click the ‘Buy Now’ button, you will be taken to a screen that asks if you’d prefer to pay with your PayPal balance or a credit card. After the transaction is complete, you’ll be immediately provided with the two downloads of Machine Wash Warm. One is the .pdf; the other is the .mp3.)
Thanks for reading!
For more from Paul…