My post on the benefits of being short hit a hot button, generating several comments from female readers. One of my favorites came from Linda, my across-the-street neighbor during the summers of our youth. She, too, is losing height at her annual checkups. To use her own words: “Help me! I’m melting!” I’ve decided to follow up “The Benefits of Being Short” with “The Pitfalls of Shrinking.” I hope this provides helpful ideas for the Lindas out there.
One of the most noticeable pitfalls of height reduction is that you need to get your pants shortened every year. I wouldn’t care if that were because I lost more weight and the pants hung down further on my hips. (As if.) But having to spend on a tailor because you’re losing altitude is not on most retirees’ bucket lists.
Fortunately, I have a solution that enables you to pay just once for those alterations and be able to keep up with your ongoing shrinkage at no additional cost. Instead of a permanent hem, have your tailor install vertical strips of Velcro tape all around the edges. You’ll need them spaced every three inches so you don’t get droopy bottoms. (There’s nothing worse…) Then each year, as you “melt” a bit more, simply adjust the tapes accordingly.
I’ll bet my fellow height-loss sufferers have noticed that they can no longer reach the grab bar to get into an SUV. I had trouble grabbing those handles even before I started losing height. If you’ve always been short, chances are you would never have owned one of these even before you began shrinking. The problem is that these vehicles are the transportation of choice for many of our friends, not to mention our offspring.
It has probably taken you years to cultivate those friends. If you’re close to my age, you may be losing them through attrition. The circle of life, southern migration and such. No need to hurry the process by cutting the cord on someone because of the car they drive. It’s also unlikely you’ll want to disown your offspring. That leaves us looking for a convenient mechanism to boost us to grab bar level.
The best I have to offer is pairs of heavy duty springs, the kind you find in mattresses. Attach them to straps that have (what else?) Velcro fasteners. Carry them in a tote bag. When you need to get into a vehicle that’s too far off the ground, put them on the soles of your shoes like old-fashioned roller skates.
One downside of vertical contraction that I hadn’t considered came to my attention on the Today Show. Pint-sized actress Kristin Chenoweth (4’ 11”) appeared in one of the segments. She tried to high-five towering host Savannah Guthrie (5’ 10”). The best she could manage was grazing the bottom of Savannah’s palm with her own fingertips. If you have this problem as you shrink, get one of those giant foam fingers that you see in stadium stands all the time. You’ll be able to high-five (or high-one) anybody with that.
Another problem that appears on the radar as we lose height is that we need to use a step stool more often. That’s bad enough in and of itself—so annoying to keep dragging it in and out of the storage closet—but it’s also dangerous. Our increasing age usually brings with it deteriorating eyesight and poorer balance. Combine those with reaching ever more skyward atop a step stool that you’ve jerry-rigged, and you have a recipe for broken bones. (Did I mention that osteoporosis is a key cause of shrinkage?)
Eventually this step stool problem leads to the need to reorganize your kitchen cabinets and your bedroom closet shelves. One route to take on this is to get an entire system installed. You might even pay a consultant to help figure out what needs to be kept on the lower shelves and what can go in vertigo land. The problem with this, other than the cost, is that you’ll need to revisit the organizational structure each year that your reach diminishes by a shelf.
I recommend that you use the need to reorganize as the impetus to jettison more of the clutter from your life. Many of my earlier blog posts provide suggestions on how to do that. It’s a lot cheaper than fancy systems. It also has the added benefit of making your next move easier. You may think that’s a long way off, but you’ll thank me whenever it happens.
In the meantime, you can thank me now for all my other helpful suggestions. One thing I’m never short on is ideas.