Saturday, October 15, 2011

A Hare Under 5'4"

Says here they tried to reintroduce a population of bunnies into central Washington and it didn't take. They put twenty little pygmy rabbits out there in the sagebrush and got nothing for it. Nineteen of the bunnies fell to predators and they rescued the twentieth after a brief debate with a creationist over the likelihood of immaculate conception.

It's hard for me to imagine trying and failing to achieve full bunny saturation. This is not a moonshot. It would be like swinging a bat in Portland and not hitting a barista. But fail they did.

The problem, as I see it, was with the bunnies themselves. They were very small and cute; nuggets, they were. The biologists might as well have thrown out a handful of popcorn. Apparently the local coyotes found them utterly adorable, all the way down.

I've banked on the notion that small equates with cute all my life. I remember being the smallest in the class the entire time I was growing up. That, and having a name that started with a "B," kept me in the front row, where I had to develop skills not required of more easily hidden people. But I had hope. We got measured every year against the kitchen door frame, and I could see a positive trajectory in pencil marks. My mother was short; my father was short; my paternal relatives were uniformly tiny and had to develop curmudgeonliness, scowling, and, in some cases, seizure disorders just to scare away predators. My great-grandfather was barely five feet tall. He was a popular author who did a lecture circuit with Mark Twain. The poster for the tour featured the two under the title "Twins Of Genius." The "twins" part was a joke because they were such different heights. Also, way different genius, but we won't get into that. Anyway, when it came to verticality, I looked at my heritage and figured: hey. I'm due.

Unfortunately, there is no chromosome for being due. After an exciting couple years when I made progress measurable in actual inch fragments, the pencil mark intervals went into millimeter territory until the last one, which is very dark from having been drawn over and over. When you stand to get your height measured, you give it all the stretch you've got, but it never makes a dime's-width of difference. Your eyebrows fly up and your ears pin themselves back but there is no more height to be gained. I was ready to begin phase two of the Brewster growth pattern, all of which is lateral. It makes sense, evolutionarily. We go for a lower and fluffier center of gravity to guard against tipping injuries.

Still, I never felt terribly short. I felt more on the low end of average. Then, as an adult, I got a mail route that included a high school. Walking down the halls towards the office, I navigated a swarm of adolescent giants plumped from birth with high-fructose corn syrup; I bobbed along a trough in a sea of tits and armpits. It's disconcerting.

It only just occurred to me that we could dedicate another door frame for yearly measurements again. I could have visual proof of having approached five feet from both directions. It could be interesting. I'm fine with it as long as I'm adorable all the way down.

32 comments:

  1. I'm vertically challenged as well. That gave me a good snort.

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  2. My youngest, who has ridden the subway for since infancy and looks to be about two years younger than he is, recently commented with wonder, "Mom! I'm almost out of the forest of legs!"

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  3. At the other extreme, I am female, 61, and six feet tall. Compared to the young amazons today, no big thing, but in my youth I could not go a day without some total stranger coming up to me and saying, "I bet yew play baskitball, don' yew? hurr, hurr, hurr!" This is hurtful to a seven year old girl.

    I was the tallest kid in my small rural high school, and this was in the day before co-ed sports. The basketball coach,used to look down the hall, see me towering head and shoulders above the crowd, and weep.

    And for a while, when I went through that growth spurt and gained three inches in three months, I though my name had been changed to "Stand up straight!"

    I am still in the back row for all group photos, and have only twice been the shortest person in a room. Once, when I shared an elevator with the "Tall Jazz" quartet, and once, when I walked into the "Big and Tall Men's Shop"on a slow afternoon.

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  4. I never quite reached 5'2" and find that I am now starting to shrink a tiny bit each year. Which is, in a way, fine. As cars and airplane seat space gets smaller, so do I.

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  5. --- "Your eyebrows fly up and your ears pin themselves back but there is no more height to be gained"

    --Your photo is "Priceless."

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  6. Snortworthy, indeed. And I won't even bring up that wretched old song about "Short People." It isn't that I'm "short" ... everyone else in the family is just tall(er).

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  7. Hey! That was the first song played at our wedding, Susan. And, actually, it IS that we're short. But Margie makes an excellent point about the airplane seats. Dave complains that the world is made for short people, and I'd concede the point, but I'm still crabby about him putting the cookies on the top shelf. Roxie, Dave refers to women your size (which is MAGNIFICENT) as "regular-size." I never had a growth spurt. It was more of a growth blip.

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  8. It's all in the interpretation. You think you were visible being in the front row? Try standing in a crowd and being the only 6' tall woman and then we'll talk.

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  9. I'm trying! I'm trying! Unhh. Unhh.

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  10. Just 5 minutes ago...the laundry light bulb blew it was practically new, but that's another story...)and as soon as The Man wakes I shall ask him to fetch the ladder.Of course, if Andrea and Roxie were closer I could just holler...

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  11. I was with you at the front of all school classes and photographs until I turned 15. That year I grew 8 inches. And kept inching up for a few more years. So I have looked at life from both sides now... I really, really hope my girth never equates to my height though. Thanks for a good chuckle.

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  12. You are wee thing. Seems like a good thing to me.

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  13. I was always the very shortest in the class. I only made it to 58 and a 1/2 inches. You'd look tall to me!

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  14. Clearly the bunnies weren't of Harvey's tribe.

    You've probably seen this, but just in case:
    http://etext.virginia.edu/railton/huckfinn/hftourhp.html

    Anent tall v. short: Dave's taller than me, but not by much, and I agree that the world's made for short people. Standing at work stations and counters made for the "average" person for any length of time is murder, as is getting in and out of small cars (especially as age stiffens the neck), and I don't even want to think about airline seats. I have scars on my head from running or standing up into all manner of light fixtures. Average bed? Forget it. My ankles are eternally chapped from sticking out over the edge of mattresses and sheets made for the "average" person.

    On the other hand, if I were any shorter my feet wouldn't reach the ground.

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  15. Oh, the woes for the vertically challenged.
    But, I can relate. At six foot something, I feel very small beside our adult children, who practically tower over their father.
    Good genetics plus great feeding produces giants. You can trust the Bear on that.

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  16. "my great grandfather was a popular author" who needs tall genes anyway?

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  17. Well, he was popular THEN. He's nearly unreadable now. Believe me, I've tried. For anyone interested in giving him a shot, it's George Washington Cable, as mentioned in Bill's link. Also of note, he was good friends with Andrew Carnegie and got into his will. What happened to all THAT?

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  18. "...a sea of tits and armpits..." LOVE IT!!!!

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  19. You do crack me up. I am 5'4" and having to use a step stool every single time I need something in an overhead cupboard gets to be such a drag but that is just the way it is. My favorite animal has been giraffe because of their glorious view from up there. They wouldn't need a step stool.

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  20. (My first try at a comment was lost.) I see where you get your writing genes. I really loved your great-grandfather's book, "The Grandissimes." Once I'd read this line I was hooked: "'Now I'll put my feathers on again,' says the plucked bird."
    I don't consider the book unreadable, though the first chapter is confusing, but that just drew me in.

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  21. I am so impressed, anon! Maybe I'll haul out my musty old copy of The Grandissimes and try again. It's the dialect that slows me down. I have a feeling if it were read aloud, as he did when he was on the lecture circuit with Twain, it would go down a lot easier.

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  22. "...a sea of tits and armpits.." just says it all. Being a bit taller, when I hug shorter friends I realize they are getting crushed in my cleavage. Also off-putting.

    What's your great-grandfather's New Orleans connection?

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  23. I'm tired of my kid patting me on the head. For mother's day he'll get on his knees and I get to order him around for an hour, watching his fake shortness do chores.

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  24. Hey Murr! Height is overrated. My first girlfriend was tiny, just five feet ("...and one half inch, goddammit!") tall. I'm 6'5", so you can imagine what we looked like. Height has brought me no advantages; a superiority complex, an tendency to loom, deterioration of my lumbar discs (at 40!) and obesity. Tho that last one might be the pizza. Erm. So anyway, you should enjoy being short and adorable. Indigo =)

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  25. Your use of language in pulling those three pieces together is sheer genius. How the hell did you do a mail route for all those years and not 'go postal'? (My dad and my uncle were postmen.....)

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  26. Take heart, Murr. I read somewhere that short people live longer, although that is not reassuring for our tall sons, daughters, husbands, and friends. I'm 5'3" which was about average in my day. Now, I'm suddenly "short!" Note to Roxie; you are statuesque. That's a compliment.

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  27. My mother was all of 4' 11" full grown. And she was as mighty a woman as I have ever known.
    So be little and be mighty.
    Mighty Murr.
    Has a ring to it, no?

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  28. It does, KGMom!

    I loved my job, jack. It allowed me to be what I wanted to be most of all: a retired mailman.

    And Angeluna, George Cable grew up and lived in New Orleans and fought in the Confederate army. He was credited with pioneering the "local color" movement, transcribing dialect in prose, and that dialect was Creole, mostly. He had to skedaddle after writing one too many treatises in favor of abolition, and New England was a better fit. The house he lived in in Northampton is still standing.

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  29. Hey Shorty! Would love to know more about your grandfather. How about a post about him and his writings?

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  30. I am part of the Roxie and Andrea team, at 6ft. tall. It is especially hard for a girl to be tall, and back in the day (before Title IX, online clothes shopping, and interheight dating) it was particular challenging in a small town. My husband is shorter than I, and claims that his "genetic package" was able to moderate our children's height-two are 6 ft., one is 6'4". My 6'3" sister used to joke that she knew when she reached the Mpls area by how tall the people at the airport were. My 6'7" brother was teased constantly because he refused to be involved in sports. And, you may or may not have noted my site name.

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  31. See, always, I figured it was because you were shy. Thank you for "interheight dating." I'll steal that!

    Mr. Charleston, hm. First I'd have to READ his writings...I'll keep it in mind. Among other things, he was way religious. Which, of course, drove Mark Twain nuts. This apple has done rolled a long, long way from the tree.

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  32. I'm tallish, the product of a diminutive mother and a freakishly tall father. I associated being tall with being awkward; I'd have given my eyeteeth to be short like my mother.

    My great-grandfather looked a lot like Mark Twain and also came from Missouri. That was all he had in common with the great man, but he still made the most of it.

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