The average woman in the United States is almost 5’4” and the average man is about 5’9”. If you happen to be several inches taller than those norms, you’ve likely been on the receiving end of some odd or intrusive questions. As a woman of a certain height (5’ 10”), I’ve heard my share, starting in middle school, when it isn’t at all awkward to be singled out as different, and continuing well into adulthood. I’ve collected some of my favorites, in the hopes that the next time you find yourself face to face with someone you have to actually look up to, you’ll skip these entirely.
“Do you play basketball?”
Many tall people play basketball. Many others do not. It is also possible that a tall person plays other sports like volleyball or tennis or lacrosse. It is even conceivable that a tall person may be sort of klutzy and not play any sports at all. You never really know.
“What size shoe do you wear?”
If tall people had tiny feet, they would fall over. So it’s safe to assume that their feet are proportional to the rest of their body and, therefore, probably a bit larger than average. It’s just the way things are. I’m not hiding anything (size 10, in case you were curious); I’ve just answered the question a thousand times.
“How do you find pants that fit?”
The same way everyone else does—by going to the store and trying on three million pairs and staring in frustration in front of the mirror in the dressing room and hating everything until I find the one pair that fit perfectly and buying them and wearing them to tatters and then discovering that the company has stopped making that style and starting all over again.
“Is it hard to find people to date?”
People only seem to ask women this question, and I’ve heard it a lot. My only response is yes. But not because I’m tall, although if I had limited myself to men who were taller than I am, the pool of potential mates would have shrunk dramatically. Pun intended. Dating is hard for everyone, no matter his or her physical characteristics. Finding a compatible partner in a world of millions is challenging. Height has very little to do with it.
“Are your parents tall?”
Yes and no. My dad is, my mom isn’t. But having tall parents doesn’t guarantee you’ll win the height lottery, so it’s sort of irrelevant. Biology is tricky that way.
“How tall are you?”
I think I’m just normal tall. I have friends who are giant tall, NBA tall, duck-your-head-in-doorways tall, you-might-be-on-stilts tall, and those-are-some-stilettos tall. I don’t mind telling you my height, but I’m not sure why it matters. We are all exactly as tall as we are. If you’re asking, however, I am probably taller than you.
“You make me feel so short.”
I feel guilty when people say this. There’s nothing I can do to stop making someone feel short, so I start to slouch or suggest we sit down. Sometimes I apologize, although I’m never sure why. I didn’t get this tall on purpose. An old friend of mine used to respond, “Excellent. My job here is done.”
“You’re an Amazon!”
Nope. I am neither a legendary female warrior, nor a green parrot from Central or South America. I know this because I’ve never been to ancient Scythia and I don’t have feathers, although I would love to know how to shoot a bow and arrow.
“How’s the weather up there?”
This has never been even close to funny.
“What’s it like being tall?”
I don’t have a good answer for this question. I’ve been tall as long as I can remember, so it’s just like being alive. I’m easy to find in public places, I can reach the top shelves in the kitchen and I’m handy when things get stuck in tree branches. I usually lose when I play limbo, hide-and-seek is a challenge, and I don’t blend in a crowd. My knees hurt on long flights so I always try to get an exit row and I like to swim because I can cover a decent distance with just a few strokes. In other words, I don’t have any great skills or talents or any debilitating handicaps. Being tall makes me just like everyone else, only taller.