As I walked into a pub a woman said to her boyfriend, perhaps to cover up the fact that she was ogling me “he’s tall isn’t he”. It happened to me a while back, also in the pub, the guy stood next to me looked at me and exclaimed “you’re tall!” Really? I hadn’t noticed.
Well, I had and that’s why this blog is called what it is. Here is the story of its name. People have in the past called me, being very original, “Lurch” so, having come up with the idea for the blog about modern society and the tagline used as the title above, I called it 21st Century Lurch. Having already mentioned the url on Facebook etc I then decided to call it something else less personally negative so chose another word that meant tall “Longfellow” and changed the url from 21stlurch… to 21stlunch… and put it down to a typo. Longfellow’s 21st Century Lunch arrived by accident but I liked it more anyway.
Our society still values bigger numbers – engines (as in the size of a car’s example rather than the number on an aircraft’s wing, that’s just sensible to have a few spare); salaries; bigger GBs (in smartphones); higher versions (of iPads or Browsers); values of cars and houses; prices of pies and TVs and so on. Everywhere you look you’re told bigger is better, with a few exceptions – waistlines, fuel bills and wind turbines come to mind.
Which is why it’s the case that someone can say “Andy, hold this, you’re tall” or “can you reach that off that shelf, you’re tall” and not think that you’d be offended whereas if you said to someone “you’re short, reach under there and pull out that lead” there would be a sharp intake of breath and an exclamation of “you can’t say that!” And we’ve all heard “is it cold up there”, “is it raining yet” etc. Even the Queen, on meeting a tall basketball player was reported as saying “you’re tall.”
I’m not saying that being tall’s all bad but we have the same issues that those at the opposite end of the height scale have. Cash machines are too low, recent ones designed to be used by “average” people as well as those in wheelchairs are almost painful to use without kneeling and hence looking like you’re praying to the Natwest for money. For the long-legged toilets are often a very long way down, as are many sofas. Trying to gracefully enter a car or van where someone has pulled the seat forward since you last used it is very nearly impossible and often nearly lethal. People complain about shelves being too high in shops, I’m always happy to reach for something if someone asks, but there are many places in this town of many historical buildings where I can regularly dent my head on an oak beam or doorframe – and yes, most of them are, or were, in pubs. As for clothes the top half’s generally ok but I’ve nearly exclaimed with joy when finding a pair of suitable long-leg jeans in a shop, for a time the nearest available pairs were forty-odd miles away. It is quite satisfying to know though that when you have your hair cut the hairdresser doesn’t have to waste time or energy jacking your chair up to a usable height.
There are also stereotypes based on fairytale giants, for example on a topical comedy show it was reported that a commentator had said of footballer Peter Crouch “he has a remarkably light touch, for a big man”, I know that we’re likely to be a tad heavier than shorter people, having an extra twelve inches or so of body to fill, but we’re not all lumbering giants. I know quite a few lumbering mid-height people.
Lastly of course Women say they’re looking for Mr Tall, Dark and Handsome yet often the tall bit stops just above average height, I’ve often heard of women assuming that a tall man would only want an equally tall woman, while shorter men are supposedly put-off or intimidated by tall women. I have only encountered a handful of women anywhere near my height and to be honest for someone shorter than me I’m happy to bend down a bit, it’s not a problem.