Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Benefits of Being Short

I’m short. I’ve always been short. I’ve danced around this topic in my blog over time. It’s been percolating recently because I have a midyear checkup next week. It will be with a new GP near our condo in Connecticut. I had all my medical records copied and sent to me (cost $94.92) so I can bring them to my appointment. My height has been decreasing at each of my checkups, which has led me to consider the benefits of being short. And yes there are some. Perhaps not more than there are disadvantages, but here goes.

Let’s consider osteoporosis, which I had, but managed to hold at bay after taking Fosamax for a few years. I’m due for another bone density test next year, and it will no doubt show that I’m once again losing density. Since I’m short, there can’t be that much room between my discs for them to collapse a lot. I think osteoporosis would be a bigger problem for someone tall. Their spine would have lots of room for shrinkage. So, here’s your first benefit of being short: you have fewer inches to lose as you age.

Another issue of aging is loss of balance. This is less of a concern for someone as short as I am. I’m so close to the ground that I don’t have far to fall if I take a tumble, hence less chance of breaking something when I land. The way things are going with my height, I could be walking on all fours in another decade or so. I won’t be at risk of tumbling or falling. I’ll simply go splat.

The older I get, the more off-balance I become. I’m talking physical balance not mental, so don’t be so quick to say you’ve noticed. I’m clumsy to begin with, and my wobbling causes me to drop things even more than usual. Because I’m short, I don’t have to bend over too far to pick up things I’ve lost hold of. Score another one for the little people.

When I was in high school, there was an annual event called “Girls’ Sports Night.” We had a team for each of the school colors and each team elected Senior and Junior captains to head up the effort for their color. My junior year, the White team senior captain (my team) was petite. The Scarlet captain was stately. My Latin teacher commented on this in class one day, saying that a tall girl would always look like a woman, while a short girl would always look like a little girl trying to look like a woman.

If you’re thinking this was an odd point of view to be put forth in a Latin class, you’d be right. My teacher did it in an attempt to cow me. To describe me as a difficult student would be an understatement, at least as far as Mr. Ryan was concerned. I countered with the somewhat predictable: “Dynamite comes in small packages.” But his observation came back to me last week as I was gussying myself up to go to an event at our clubhouse. I’m always a tad surprised at how young I look when I put on makeup.

Upon reflection, I think that one reason people think I’m considerably younger than I am is that I’m short. Well, that and the fact that I dye the gray in my hair. I can’t really explain why, but if you put two women together who look virtually identical, but one is short and one is tall, people will probably guess the shorter one to be younger. Maybe my Latin teacher wasn’t just snarky. Maybe he was also right.

In my mind, one of the best benefits of a petite stature is that most people won’t even notice if you’re getting shorter. This is not the case for taller women. When they start to shrink, people chatting with them will be thinking: “Hmm. I used to look down at her mouth when we talked. Now I’m looking down at her nose. She must be getting shorter.” When people talk to me, they’ll be thinking: “I used to look down at the top of her head. Now I’m looking down at… Oh. The top of her head.” I rest my case.

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