I was somewhere on Main Street between The Hyatt and Sticky Fingers. He tapped me on the shoulder as I ran by. I had my headphones in my ears, listening to the Rolling Stones. The Rolling Stones are great to run to… when the mood is right. I was mid-stride when I felt his index finger sort of dig into the space between my collar bone and… well I’m not going to pretend I know a whole lot about anatomy… but he was poking me a little too close to my neck. It was jarring. (Pro tip – don’t touch a woman you don’t know in public, ever — not to grab her butt, not to rub her pregnant belly, not to poke her so she’ll stop mid-run for a conversation) I stopped, turned around, and looked him straight in the eye while he mouthed something I couldn’t make out. I paused my music and pulled my headphones out of my ears, all while I was still asking myself why I was even stopping at all. I couldn’t make out his words so I said “What?” a little louder than I intended.
“Six-Three” he said with a very clear question mark at the end. SIX THREE! This guy! This guy was stopping me in the middle of a run that was going really well to try and guess my height. Not only that, he was stopping me to guess wrong! This guy thought it was okay to reach out and dig his knuckle into my neck, to indicate that he needed my immediate attention. All just so he could guess the wrong height.
Listen, there are a million creative ways to start a conversation with a stranger. Of those million ways… this one doesn’t come anywhere near the top half of my list of favorites.
If you’ve spent more than a few hours around me, you’ve heard me joke about being tall. I talk about it a lot because people ask me about it a lot. If we’re being completely honest, I don’t think being 6’1″ makes me all that strange. There are a lot of other things that would probably more easily separate me from society, but my height is the thing strangers (and people who know me well) like to point out. So I learned a long time ago to be proactive and make my own jokes about it. If you’re going to make a tall joke, I guarantee you I’ve already made it about myself. I’ve heard everything from “how’s the weather up there” to the stranger stumbling over a list of possible sports I mastered in high school — basketball? volleyball? swimming? More than a few times I’ve heard little kids loud-whisper something to their parents in public. It’s not offensive. In fact, in August I wrote a [possibly too sassy] response to a Huffington Post piece on the topic. The site did a piece about things to never say to a tall woman. I thought it was pretty lazy. I disagreed on nearly every point. You can read my response here.
The truth is I’m not usually bothered by being tall. I’m almost never bothered by people wanting to talk about it. I’m just constantly amused that everyone seems to think they’re the first person who’s ever pointed it out. Whatever you’re about to say, it’s been said. I have to give credit to the man on Main Street though, because he was certainly the first to think his question was so creative I needed to be stopped mid-stride to hear it.
I should’ve said what I wanted to say. I should’ve just gone for it. “Sir, is this a carnival? Did I unknowingly hand you some tickets and ask you to guess my personal stats in hopes that you’d get it wrong and I’d win some oversized bear to carry the rest of the way down Main Street back to my car? Sir are you, by chance, insane?”
I should’ve said those things, because it would’ve been funny and sassy and indicative of how my sarcastic mind reacts every time a stranger makes a comment on my height. Instead I looked him in the eye for half a beat, said “no, Five-four”, stuck my headphones in my ear and started back up the street to the chorus of ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’.