Being short’s a little frustrating

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 12, 2009

I’m short — around 5 feet, 1.5 inches, I’d say. When I was a child, I always wound up with a front seat in classrooms. I never thought that was an advantage, but years later, it occurred to me that it would be nice to have someone experienced, like an elementary teacher, to seat people by their heights at concerts, plays and churches. That way, I’d be assured of a front-row seat.

There are those who might not prefer a front row seat. I’ve heard people joke about getting to church in time to grab a back row seat. Well, I’ve been there, too, but it wasn’t by preference. One night my husband and I and another couple attended a church service that drew hundreds of people. We arrived in time to find some seats a few rows behind the middle section.

The other wife (another shorty) and I were pleased that we had aligned ourselves in the pew so we could see up front. But that satisfaction was short-lived. People kept coming and those occupying seats in front of us shifted left to accommodate others crowding in the pews. Soon everyone in our pew did the same. I wound up with a slight peephole that had been a wide-open view when we first seated ourselves. The other shorty had to crane her neck for even an opening.

Just when we thought we were settled in again, the people in the pew immediately in front of us shifted right to allow a newcomer to pick his way toward the middle of the pew. He plopped down right in front of us. He was at least four shoulders wide and towered almost a head above mine. That wasn’t all. By the time he found his niche, a man even wider and taller than this one fitted in several rows ahead of him.

I knew then I’d never see what the speakers or anyone else on the program looked like. I sat there staring straight ahead into a block of broad shoulders in a dark suit. My short friend gave me one of those, “It’s happened again” looks and shrugged. Both of us pushed our frustration to the back of our minds, relaxed and listened to the service even if we couldn’t see it.

For years, all my store-bought clothing had to be hemmed. Even when I wore petite-style clothing suitable for my age, it didn’t prevent some upstarts from teasingly trying to direct me to the junior high school down the block when I was a high school freshman.

Grocery store shelves sometimes pose problems for short folks. These days I’m not shy. I look around for someone who looks tall enough to get what I need off a top shelf for me. Those I’ve asked for help never seem to mind helping out a short, gray-haired woman.

God made me short, so despite frustrations, I’m not complaining.