A few years ago I was walking down the sidewalk on my way to my mother’s art studio. It was a bright sunny day and I was smiling about the great Chicago weather and the thought of coffee waiting for me. The skirt of my sundress was swishing around my legs and my messenger bag thumped lightly against my hip. An overweight man wearing a stained white t-shirt with a cartoon logo on it, jean shorts, and black sneakers crossed in front of me heading to a near-by convenience store, “Hey, Shorty.” He called out. I stared daggers at him.
When I got to my mom’s studio I hotly told her how a rude man had commented on how short I am. How rude! I know I’m short, no need for a perfect stranger to point that out! She looked at me, laughed, and explained that Shorty is a term some men use instead of girl. I retorted, That’s just doubly rude then!
So, I’m a little sensitive about my height or lack thereof. (I don’t think I’m sensitive about the stranger harassment. I don’t have to stop and talk to someone just because they decide I should.) As a short person, I have to do a lot of jumping. My arms don’t reach up very far, and grocery shelves are up very far, people. Very far. Basically, I have to set my basket of groceries down, lift myself up by my arm on the cooler or shelving unit, and do a gymnastics routine just to get a jar of peanut butter.
It’s been years of jumping and gymnastics and I’m tired. Plus, I’m getting old. So, I decided to go about solving this problem. I noticed the possibility of never having to reach the tall shelf myself again last November when I met Chris who also helped my sister and brother-in-law move across the country in a 22 hour car ride. The first time we really talked was when when we rode together for two hours in the moving van at the end of the first day. I got to have actual grown-up talk about vampires and tattoos instead of reading a story to my nieces about rat wharves! Then the next day he helped me gang up on my sister, who I was getting annoyed with because she doesn’t believe in DVD players even for a 22 hour car trip, because we wanted to go to the zoo and she didn’t. It was pretty clear to to the both of us that she hated animals. She probably wouldn’t let them watch DVDs either.
*This is a long post, but I’ve been asked to share some more details about my current beau, so here is the story with some humor. (Like my life)
And then after we had arrived to their new home and made our way to the local aquarium I got to thinking how having someone around who was tall is a really big help. My youngest niece is only three and she had a hard time seeing some of the tanks and exhibits at the aquarium. Chris asked at one point if she wanted him to pick her up to let her see better and she shyly agreed. She has a hard time with people who are not her mom, even if she has known them for a long time. However, once she saw what a great view she had, she stayed in his arms the rest of the time. I’m gonna admit I was jealous a few times. My disadvantageous height keeps me from enjoying exhibits too. At that time I was not looking for a boyfriend, even a tall one, but I noticed how thoughtful he was, what a great sense of humor he had even when dealing with my sisters (and they can be trying), and that he gamely lost at Dutch Blitz over and over, even though it was apparent he is an incredibly competitive person. (I tried to help him play his cards faster, but my sisters got mad because they said I was only doing it to help myself. Not sure why else I would help someone during a game. OF COURSE it was to help myself.)
When I got back to Chicago, my sister asked me if I would ever think about dating Chris. I asked, “What does that even mean?” Honestly, he lived across the country, had made no indication of an romantic notions toward me, and my sister’s question seemed to stem from the perennial thought all married people have to single people must be sad and lonely and if they set all their single friends up with each other everyone will be much happier. Her questions was ridiculous. (I mean granted in this instance she was right, but I’ll never tell her that.) I made fun of her and promptly forgot about him.
On New Years Day I sent out a mass text to my contacts to wish them a good new year, I saw his name in my phone, and though it took me several minutes to remember Chris was the name of my brother-in-law’s friend, I shrugged my shoulders and added him to the list. I was surprised to receive a text back and more throughout the day, but I was even more surprised by how his responses made me smile and giggle. We had a wide range of discussions on books, movies, family dynamics, cultural history, podcasts, and religion. I found him to be a deep thinker with interesting points of view, often in line with my own quirkiness. I kept him on the phone long after his bed time the first time we talked just to hear him laugh again. Even though he lived far away, I was crushing harder and harder on him.
One day on my way to an engagement party, I passed The Medieval Times here in Chicago and texted Chris about it. When we were in Texas helping with the move, one of the things that we both wanted to do was go to The Medieval Times, but that involved negotiations among my family, finally a decision, and then finding out at the last minute that that was the ONE DAY the castle was not open that week. We were both disappointed. I texted Chris that I was passing the one in Chicago and it reminded me of Texas and how we never got to go. He texted back that we should make plans for him to come visit and go there before the summer was over. I agreed it would be fun, but I didn’t think he would actually come. I still didn’t believe him even when he started to make plans. Then, when we finally picked a date for his visit and I knew he was coming for sure, I thought it was just to go to Medieval Times.
The husband of one of my girlfriend’s looked at me and said, “There are closer Medieval Times to him, I’m sure.” Promptly got up and went to the computer to prove he was right. “Besides,” he said, “if a guy is coming to visit just to go to Medieval Times that is not someone you want to date.” I laughed. I know how ridiculous it sounds that I didn’t believe he would come to visit me, but I have a very hard time believing people care about me and want to be around me. Plus, I have a hard time believing good things will come into my life. Because mostly, they haven’t. However, Chris did come to visit me, we made it to The Medieval Times here in Chicago, and he assured me that was not the only reason he came to Chicago.
It’s funny how walking around Chicago with a man who is over six feet tall reduces to the number of men who harass me verbally, call me shorty, or tell me I have to smile down to zero. Actually . . . . it’s not funny at all. But the reduction in verbal assaults is definitely a nice benefit to having a tall boyfriend. It’s also nice to have someone who not only gladly reaches the peanut butter but also carries the grocery basket. Those things get heavy and I’m getting old.