The Long & The Short of It
On Marriage, Family History, and a Crazy Big Height Difference
When my husband and I go out in public — not much these days — we’re assailed with stares, bemused looks, as well as rude, crude, and crazy comments. My favorite after thirty-three years of marriage: “How do you …kiss?” Let me explain. My husband Michael stands six foot, eight inches, while I am five, four…okay, in truth, five, three, which leaves a gap of seventeen inches between our respective statures, or so you can picture the discrepancy, about a foot-and-a-half.
In the early days of our courtship and marriage, the gazes and gawks of strangers bothered me terribly, invasions that left me feeling furious and exposed. What struck me was how stunned, though not dumb-struck, people were by the unusual, particularly the physically different. It was as if they stared, not at a person — but at a statue.
Back in the day, my MO for these uncouth intruders was to rush up into their faces and give them as good as we got: I stared, I made faces, I spewed out my own outrageous comments. They came to, as if from a fugue state, realizing with horror that this freakish couple were, in fact, human.
Michael, a gentleman to the core, did not care for my manner of dealing with rude strangers. He preferred to hold his head high and go about our business. Throughout our
years together, he’s remained kind and patient with the artillery of stupid questions, asked again and again, with so little imagination. “Do you play basketball?” “How tall are you?” “How’s the air up there?”
Though I met Michael on a blind date during my New York City days, I was prepared for his unusual stature by his sister. (She is tall, too.) Helene and I shared a country house in the Berkshires with a bunch of other singles one summer. She told me her brother was a “super fellow” and asked permission to give him my number. I later found out that she’d also slipped him the numbers of two other women in our house. Hmmm. Maybe that’s why he took so long to call.
Time passed. The tall super fellow didn’t call. I gave Helene a nudge. More time passed, but…