69 Inches of Awkward

Here’s the story I did at That Time of the Month. (@TTOTM_stories on Twitter)

People – well, women – always talk about being tall like it’s the ultimate blessing from heaven. I hear all the time, “You’re so lucky you’re tall!” or “You’re tall, you can hold your weight.” If by that you mean I can gain 20 pounds before I even notice none of my jeans fit, then yes. But that just means I have a lot more to lose, which I never do. So I just keep packing it on, all while still wearing basically the same size clothes. 

I’m 5’9, which is great – NOW – the problem is, I’ve been 5’9 for as long as I can remember. Not in my adult life, but my ENTIRE life. For what I can remember, I have been this height since elementary school. When I show people my grade school class photos, they ask me what I was ‘standing on.’ If you need to find me in one of those group photos, it’s easy… Back middle… Every single time.

Being tall was especially difficult for me in the 4th grade… when my mom sent me to school in a blazer. I thought I looked very distinguished, but when I went through the lunch line that day, I was charged more than usual. After telling the cashier I didn’t have enough money she asked, “Aren’t you a sub?” I was NINE! And I had been mistaken for an adult woman substitute teacher. I was beyond mortified. And I haven’t worn a blazer again since. I guess the shoulder pads weren’t helping me look any younger, but it was the 90’s.  

While I continued to grow, experiencing literal agonizing growing pains in my joints and bones on a nightly basis, my dad began having fantasies of a star basketball player in the family. The WNBA wasn’t even a thing yet, but he daydreamed about the college scholarship offers that would be POURING in my senior year, and after that, all the NCAA games he would get to attend for free. The only problem was, in my brief two year basketball career, I only managed to score one basket… off a rebound. For those of you not familiar with sports terminology, that’s two points in two seasons. Not exactly the statistics college recruiters are looking for in the next Pat Summit. I just didn’t have a competitive bone in my body. Not to mention I wasn’t a big fan of sweating, wearing shorts, or being told to “hustle.” 

I haven’t even covered my love life, which was non-existent. No boy wants to ask out the girl in class who is taller than their mom. Every once in a while, a shrimpy little guy has started crushing on me – laying the charm on pretty thick – but I made a personal rule early on that if I could: see over his head, outweighed him or could borrow his jeans, we could never be more than friends. 

I think I made this rule after being courted by a guy nicknamed “Minner” or minnow if you don’t speak redneck slang. When you already feel like Dorothy in munchkinland, you don’t want to date a boy named after the fish used for bait to catch bigger fish. He was so tiny, I would have never even attempted to put on his jeans. It would have been like squeezing a can of biscuits into a Barbie ball gown. The outcome was apparent. He was actually a really great guy. He was kind, fun, and had a retro Chevy Camaro that we cruised around town in like the king and queen of the county fair. In the end though, I just couldn’t look past his itty bitty physique. Well technically, I could look past it. I could see right over his head. No amount of bad posture and slumping over could make me short enough for him. I’m lucky I didn’t develop scoliosis and be made to wear a clunky medical back brace from all the hunching I did throughout my awkward adolescence.  

Luckily, boys started to catch up at about the same time that I shed my braces, switched glasses for contacts, and started wearing make-up. So its all worked out in the end, except I still don’t know how to walk in heals, and I was forced to develop a sense of humor from my ugly duckling (or should I say giant giraffe) years. 

Being a tall girl isn’t all terrible. I always got to turn on the projector in home room and I always get the opportunity to help people reach items on high shelves at stores. The side effects however, include obsessing about pit stains and sweat because you’re always having to lift your arms around strangers. 

It wasn’t all bad growing up this height either, especially when it came to amusement parks. I literally do not remember a time when I was not tall enough to ride all the roller coasters. Thanks to my parents’ employment at Opryland hotel, I got a season pass to the park every year, and took full advantage. My (older?) cousin and I spent countless summer days strolling through the park while my parents were working. 

The most memorable trip though was going with a group of friends from school and some of them weren’t tall enough to ride, but I just kept on truckin. I felt entitled to this privilege with all the hardships I’d endured over the years. This was my time to shine! “Oh, you were the right height to get the lead in the school musical, but not tall enough to ride the hellevator? Bummer…sucks to be you, girlfriend. Have fun on the teacups!” 

Oh! And not to mention, I also got into every single R-rated movie I could have wished to watch. Sure, I couldn’t get the child’s ticket price even though I was only 11, but throw on some eyeliner and suddenly I’m 17. 

So ladies, don’t covet another girl’s height. Not all tall girls are models, and even the models had many awkward years before hitting the catwalk. So, wear your stilettos proudly and say a little prayer for the girls who can only wear flats, because they would kill for your calf muscles.

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