I’ve often mumbled and groaned about being vertically challenged. I’m 5 feet tall (for now), but shrinkage will happen in my future, as my mother lovingly reminds me. Well, not if I have anything to say about it!
I want to make it clear: I don’t have a problem with others being short, but after half-century, my wish to sprout longer legs needs to give up. I should be grateful the old gams still work, and when needed, I can still embarrass my children by shaking a tail feather.
When I was in middle school and was called various versions of “cute as a button,” I would proudly wear my stature on my sleeve, or my inseam.
“Being short is great, because at the school dances all the boys are taller than me,” I boasted to the tall girls.
Foolish teenager! Do you know how many school dances I went to? Me neither, but I know there weren’t many where I wrangled a date. I preferred to dance solo with my girlfriends, or at least that’s what I convinced myself to avoid the awkwardness of going stag.
Now, I’m sure my taffeta-plastered slow-dancing days in are over. You’re welcome. It’s fine, though, because as age has taught me, I’m not a fan of being a shorty. There are so many things I’m unable to do.
I don’t want to hear gloating about putting all your handy daily items on your kitchen’s top shelves. Braggarts, report to your giant friends. I’m too old to scale counters in a single bound, so I either have to add another step by finding a footstool, ladder or mini trampoline to reach my dusty top shelves.
Basically, they have dust bunnies the size of actual rabbits.
While shopping for last year’s Christmas gifts online, I noticed there is a long handled grabber for sale, designed for arthritic persons. Why hadn’t I thought of this before? The rubber grippers on the ends can clamp down on a super-sized can of tomatoes from Costco at any shelf height.
Right then, my attitude and altitude changed. I could conquer the world or at least most kitchens. This handy helper, which I call the “claw of life,” gave me newfound hope and one arm up on my friends and family.
So, when returning from spring-break vacation, I found myself on edge. I hadn’t had my “claw” for 10 days, plus we were traveling back from Colorado in my mom van stuffed with two children, one spastic yet barfy Goldendoodle, 17 electronic chargers, 43 million kid DVDs, and enough yarn to crochet myself into a fine straight jacket.
After I slowed down from a mere 80-ish mph, I pulled up to a Kansas Turnpike tollbooth, because I find it’s helpful to do so. Apparently, I’m pretty cautious when dropping from high speeds because, when I rolled my window down to grab the ticket, I was about half-mile from the machine.
Great! Of course there’s a long line of cars behind me, so I can’t reposition. As any seasoned shorty would do, I tucked my seatbelt under my arm and stretched my torso out as far as physically possible.
“Not going to happen,” I said to myself.
Then, I unlocked the car door and reached ... THWAP! My seatbelt cinched me in like a sturdy pair of Spanx. Trying to loosen the seatbelt, I took my foot off the brake forgetting I wasn’t in park and I inched forward putting me now two full inches from grabbing my prize.
“Push my butt!” I yelled out the window.
Now, I’m quite certain my husband, who was sitting in the passenger seat saw my struggle. I know he heard my cry, for the next 10 cars behind me heard my crazy request.
But did he follow my directions? Nope. He shook his head and went back to reading.
I’m certain I got the toll card after putting the van in park, unlatching my seatbelt and getting out of the car; however, it’s all a blur. My anxiety and shame put me into a temporary shock coma, which thankfully resolved down the road when my entire family burst into spontaneous laughter.
“Why didn’t you just push my butt? It would have given me the extra arm length,” I asked through tears of laughter.
“Eh, you looked like you would figure it out,” my smirking husband said.
Nice of him to have trust in me, but next time I’m slowing way down so I can get closer to the machine.
I may be short, but I’m good at learning from my ... ah, wait! ... I should have had “The Claw!”
Stacey Hatton can be reached at www.laughingwithkids.com.