Being tall aint that great
By DARREN HANDSCHUH
My wife and I are proof God has a sense of humour.
I am 6’4” while my wife is 5’ even. That is a whopping 16 inch height difference.
I have to admit I never notice the difference - probably because we have been together for more than two decades – but when we meet someone for the first time they tend to comment on it (as if we didn’t know).
I usually don’t notice height – at either end of the spectrum – unless it is extreme. A very short person will get my attention, but not as much as a very tall person.
I am just not used to looking up to talk to people and when it does happen it is a strange feeling.
Another time I took notice of height differences was when we attended a family reunion on my wife’s side of the family. When I walked into the banquet hall, all I could think was, “I’m off to see the wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz.”
The average person in the room came up to my shoulder and it looked like someone had left the gate to Smallville unlocked.
The pride of the family is my wife’s cousin who stands 6’2”. He is spoken of with reverence and there is an underlying hope he will spawn tall offspring.
My side of the family is a different story. My mom’s relatives are all average size, but my dad’s family is like the land of the giants.
The men are big, the women are big - everyone is big.
But for the height-challenged among us, believe me, being tall has its drawbacks.
It is a rare thing when my wife bumps her head on something. I have cracked my skull so many times I have calluses on my forehead.
As a clumsy teen it took a while to adjust to my height and to this day I look straight up before getting out of a chair. I learned to do this after killing more than one chandelier with my noggin.
Being two metres tall also presents challenges in other areas of life a smaller person may not even think of.
A couple years ago we went on a day trip to the Enchanted Forest, a fun little tourist stop along Highway 1 on the way to Revelstoke.
There is a huge tree fort to climb, a big pirate ship and trails winding their way through the numerous statues and huts.
Sounds easy for a tall guy right? Guess again, shorty.
It also had a bevy of fairy tale characters and settings, and this is where things got interesting.
Hunching over slightly to get through the door to some little mushroom house, my then five-year-old daughter said, “Daddy come in here.”
Looking at the tiny opening I thought, “Why couldn’t it be Snow White and the Seven Former NBA Players?”
No, they had to dwarfs, with dwarf-size doors and dwarf-size ceilings.
My wife and kids were scampering in and out of these structures of agony like forest nymphs while I had to fold up like a ventriloquist dummy being stuffed into its carrying case.
My daughter pretended to make tea in one of the little structures while I sat compressed in a corner wondering if I would actually be able to unfold and get out.
She cheerfully poured some imaginary tea while I felt my knees and back seizing up.
“Hello 9-1-1, my husband is stuck in the munchkin chateau. Can you bring the jaws of life and a stretcher please. Thanks.”
Another time being height enhanced was not so great was at Cody Caves near Nelson. Taking a guided tour of the natural caves was a blast for the entire family, but I knew I was in for a rough time less than 10 metres past the entrance.
While the guide gave a little speech about the caves and how they were discovered, my attention was drawn to a tiny opening that had handrails going into it and it was obvious that was where we were heading.
Sure enough, our fearless leader headed out and went straight down the opening.
“You have got to be kidding me,” I mumbled as I looked around and watched as everyone else cheerily scampered down the metal walkway.
I approached the opening and willed myself to become shorter. It didn’t work and I had to squeeze my 250-pound frame through an opening just big enough for an anorexic Hobbit.
I had to bend almost into the fetal position and shuffle my feet a couple inches at a time to get through the opening. I went through last as to not hold up the rest of the tour. Besides, that way if I got stuck they would be more motivated to get me out, because if I am not getting out, no one is.
Fortunately the cave opened up after that and no more mini openings had to be tackled.
I was thankful for the hardhat they made us wear as well.
A couple of times there was the distinct sound of plastic hitting rock followed by, “D-oh” as my cranium bounced of yet another stalactite.
Maybe I should wear a hardhat all the time. It might look strange, but I would probably have fewer headaches.
You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org