You’re Too Tall

Now, being tall may not have anything to do with writing, but then again maybe it does. I mean, hasn’t your appearance–height, weight, color, something–affected who you are and how you see the world? Of course it does.

A friend sent me this New York Times article on being tall, and boy do I ever relate. I’m a little over 6’1″ and I can say that the world never lets me forget it.

Just the other day at work the subject of appearance came up, and I mentioned the grief I’d gotten since I was a kid for being such a tall girl, and how some men bristle when they see me, visibly bothered that a woman would dare to be taller than them. One of my coworkers, a tall guy himself, found this hard to believe. Sure enough, about an hour later, a fellow from the front desk came into the teachers’ room, paused in the middle of whatever he was talking about, and said, “Why do you have to wear heels? It makes you really tall.” HA! I looked down at him and said, “Are you suggesting I shouldn’t wear high heels?”

“You just make me feel short.”

“And that’s why I wear heels,” I replied.

Everyone had a good laugh and my doubtful coworker was doubtful no more.

How does this affect the writing? Well, perhaps if something about you makes you feel different, outside, or uncomfortable with your place in this world, it influences how you see things.

How’s the weather up there? Do you play basketball? I’ve always had fantasies about tall women. Hey, my friends have a bet you’re taller than our friend. Wow, you’re tall. You don’t play basketball? What a waste! Watch your head! String bean. Bean pole. Jolly Green Giant. Flag Pole. Super Twig. I like you, but you’re too tall. Your husband’s taller than you, right? Here, for this photo have your husband stand on this box….

I think writers tend to be the kids who were outsiders. Maybe you were the wrong race, the religion, the wrong gender, the wrong social class, the wrong build, the wrong family, the wrong weight, or the wrong height. Whatever. You don’t need to have not fit in to be a writer, but maybe it helps. Maybe these ticks are the reason we can see the world from another point of view.

Being an only child raised by a single dad in the 70s made me different too. You live out in the middle of nowhere with your father and no woman around? No, I don’t think my daughter can come spend the night. It took me years to figure out what they meant. Oh, when that movie Something about Amelia was on TV…you live alone with your father, don’t you? How do you feel about that?

It’s always something. But a writer takes that something and makes a story, and somewhere, one day, someone out there, is going to read that story and say, “Hey, it’s like that for me too.” And it’ll all be worth it.

3 thoughts on “You’re Too Tall

  1. I love this. You are absolutely right. I never felt like I fit in….still feel that way in many ways. I think this feeling has made me a compassionate person. I’m able to empathize with many viewpoints.

  2. I’m laughing, because in kindergarten (when I “wrote” my first book), there was a kid who called me Jenny Shorts. (My maiden name, Schwartz, and my small stature, even then, made for the perfect rib.) Yes, apart, but then we find our people, and in the end, tell the stories only we can tell.

  3. I agree.
    In some ways we all feel like outsiders.
    To be able to call on those experiences, that feeling, brings a humanity to our writing.
    I mean really, who wants to read about perfect people, who have it all together, are never unusual or different or in some ways “other”? I know I don;t.
    And I love that you wear heels. 🙂

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