Fortunately, medical folks are generally exempt from committing this comment calamity. My shortness resulted from the medication I took in the first five years of the disease. Back in 1971, there were limited prescription options for arthritis, especially for kids. Nonetheless, I thought I’d relay how it plays out in the rest of the world.
A group of friends and I recently shared breakfast. I was the tallest in the group. Woo hoo! At 4’6”, that’s a rare occurrence; one that hasn’t happened for a few decades. Usually, by fourth grade, kids are looking at the stray, corkscrew grays poking out of the top of my head. It’s just not right.
It was with unexpected excitement and feelings of tallness that I joined the gathering. Inevitably, talk turned to smart people suddenly acting like they’re not.
We each shared our own replies to the ‘You’re short’ comment.
After decades of trying out assorted replies to the standard line of “Wow, you’re short,” I finally decided to go with humor. It helps them and it helps me. Following is my now standard response to ‘Wow, you’re short:’
“Oh my gosh. Really?! I am?! You’re kidding. No one ever told me that before. I always thought I was 5’8”. Dang it. Now I’m going to have to go home and shorten all my clothes. No wonder my pant legs drag on the ground. I suppose I’ll have to change my driver’s license, too. If only someone had tipped me off ages ago. It’s traumatic finding out this way. Sheesh.”
Pairing the rant with feigned shock and a hint of playfulness typically gets the point across without bruising too many egos.
Humor beats anger any day. Been there, done that, too. Same with sarcasm.
“Kris, you’re so short.”
“And you are so brunette.” (Ah yes, I still like this one and dust it off on occasion.)
I became acquainted with this group of small gals because of a chance encounter outside my neurosurgeon’s office recently. As I was leaving the office and entering the building’s hallway, a small voice from the far end of the hall called out: “I think I’m about to meet my new best friend!”
Coming toward me was an impeccably dressed older woman. She came closer and stopped. We stood eye to eye. What an amazing way to connect.
“Hi, I’m Cari.”
I recognized the voice from local commercials. Well-known throughout the area as a leading businesswoman, I never realized she was my size.
This could be great fun. She obviously had a fantastic wardrobe. We could trade clothes, if we so chose. And we did.
Same attitude, same spirit; we hit it off instantly. Bonus – we both love our convertibles, and ‘met’ each other’s that day. It reminded me of a day 20 years ago when I stepped out of my then-sedan, to hear a deep, booming voice: “Shore is a big car for such a lil’ lady.”
Cracked me up then, as now. And not a “Wow, you’re short” within earshot.
This article appeared originally in The Journal of Nursing Jocularity. Published on IDA with permission.