Consider the wording here: “taller than most” – not “gigantic” or “freakishly tall” or even “uncommonly tall.” Granted: at 6’5” I’m a very tall person… but that’s it. Very tall. Next topic please. No, I would not like to field six or seven more variants of the “how tall are you” question, thank you. No, we’re not going to be best friends now that you’ve discovered THE MOST NOTICEABLE THING ABOUT ME (a tie with my blackness if I’m sitting down). And definitely no, I’m not going to be an equal participant in this “conversation” – I have a cache of canned responses specifically for this occasion. I know you think I’m a jerk right now and that’s your journey, my dude. You gotta come with some quality material if I’m going to engage my brain for this shit.
From children, I can understand it. When a little boy or girl stands uncomfortably close to me, tilts his/her head back 90 degrees and asks “are you a giant?” I get it. Kids are morons; you get a pass, little dummy. But you, ma’am or sir, have lived long enough to have encountered hundreds of very tall people. Have some class and act like you’ve been there before. Why are so many of you like this? The only rationale for this epidemic I can think of is that there is a large percentage of the population who always say the first thing on their minds. If that is true, I’m curious how you’re able to function in everyday life, but not curious enough to ask. Good day.
I used to think it was only older white folks who did this but now that I’m giving it some more consideration I can identify several, more distinct classifications of people guilty of this transgression:
The child: Again: Dumb. You get a pass.
The drunk girl: Yes I see you. Rocking back and forth, utilizing what you believe to be a series of casual glances but is actually a concentrated hazy glare – inching toward me, wobbly step after step. Shit, I just made eye contact:
“HOW TALL ARE YOU?”
“…I’m very tall”…
“WOW (giggles giggles giggles).”
And that’s all she’s planned for. Now we’re just standing next to each other in silence.
The airplane caddy: On about 60% of my flights I’m seated adjacent to an airplane caddy or “comfort caddy” who is benevolently invested in whether or not I have enough leg room. The conversation usually goes like this:
“Not too much room on these things, huh?”
“You must be very uncomfortable.”
“You have NO idea.”
The old chick: She feasts upon lonesome men in the produce department of supermarkets, predominantly. Glance left: nothing there. Glance right: nothing there. Left again: JESUS CHRIST!… she materialized from thin air:
“My, you’re a tall one.”
(A tall what, bitch!?) -courtesy laugh
“You’re about my son’s height.”
“Oh really?” (Internal monologue: “don’t give a shit”)
…10 minute conversation about not a solitary goddamn thing.
Mr. or Ms. “Do you play basketball?”: It feels a little racist when white folks say it – can’t put my finger on it. In any case, this is the most common reaction I get. Most recently a twenty-something black dude said “You can’t tell me you didn’t play basketball for somebody!” which I thought was a little aggressive. If I wasn’t so afraid that it would spark additional conversation I’d have responded “no, racquetball” to this inquiry and see if his head exploded.
And here are some FAQs based on actual things people have asked me:
Q: Do you play basketball?
A: *side eye*
Q: How’s the weather up there?
A: Fuck. You.
Q: Have you ever met anyone taller than you?
A: What the hell kind of question is that!? I’m 34 years old…I stopped growing around 20. You think it’s possible that I’ve lived 14 years at this height and never met anyone taller than 6’5”? I can’t.
Listen folks; here it is: Being 6’5” is pretty much like what I imagine being an average height is like, but a little more dope and with a bit less head room. That’s all though – no mysteries to uncover. And just because I’m tall doesn’t mean I’m friendly or interesting. I’m neither, ok? I’m tall and mean and boring. I said good day.