Wednesday, January 6, 2010

In the Land of Giants

As a point of not much interest I can tell you that I am of average height for a woman in the United States. I'm 5'5", although I'm the tallest woman in my family. My mother stands 5'0" tall, and my grandmother is 4'10". To them, I am a giant. However, compared to my husband, I'm decidedly short. The only time our eleven inch height difference is generally a problem is when he helpfully stores things at his own eye level. This is precisely right beyond my reach. I'm a dab hand with a wooden spoon thanks to him. I use them to extend my reach, and launch whatever it is I'm reaching for directly at my own face. This has provided some mixed results in practice.

For the most part, I tend to forget that he towers above me but yesterday it became highly apparent and a focus of some concern.

"You look tall," the nurse observed, a fact it was hard to escape as my husband's feet were sticking off the end of the gurney by several inches. She picked up his chart, and began flipping through it, in a worried voice she continued, "you are tall."

The nurse glanced at me, with what seemed an appraising eye, and frowned. I had no idea what was going through her mind, but although we've had people comment on our height difference in the past, with the exception of one chiropractor, no one has ever sounded worried about it before. The nurse placed what was meant to be a reassuring smile on her face, and the result was anything but.

"We'll be ready for him in just a second," She said, the rather ghastly smile still tacked onto her face.

Hernia surgery has come a long way, and the procedure was not going to take long. An hour in surgery, an hour and a half in recovery, then I would be free to take my husband home. Everything went well and it wasn't until it came time to go that I understood the nurse's repeated frowns in my general direction.

"You'll just have to help him get dressed," she said, and withdrew, drawing the curtain behind her. It wasn't until my husband tried to stand that I understood that I was ever so slightly hosed. He tottered towards me, unsteady on his pegs and for the first time in years it occurred to me that next to me, my husband is rather mammoth.

"I've got you," I said and I'm sure my smile was probably as strained as the nurse's had been. Luckily, as my husband was drugged to the roots of his hair, he likely didn't notice. I got him dressed with a little bit of difficulty, and brought the car 'round to the entrance. The valet parking attendants immediately abandoned what they were doing, and swarmed over to us, helping my husband into the car.

"Bad way to start the New Year," one of the men said cheerfully, "hope you feel better soon."

I thanked the men for their help, and started the drive home, thinking about our staircase in a way I never had before, with no small amount of dread. I was convinced my husband was insensible to the worried goings on around him, when he began to quietly hum one of our favorite songs by the band The Might Be Giants.

I've always loved how combined words can paint a picture in our minds. There are even some books I love because of their titles, as much as the actual story contained within the pages. A Confederacy of Dunces is one such book. Although I enjoyed the book, I adore the title most of all, and always keep the book on a shelf where I can easily see it. Just that combination of words can give a lift to my day.

My husband is much the same way, but his humming indicated that he had words like "squashed" and "flattened" running through his own mind. When we got home, I slipped my cell phone into my back pocket, and began helping my husband up the stairs to his office, where there is also a very nice bed, a TV with cable, and internet access. Our bedroom doesn't have a TV in it, so we'd determined beforehand that the room that serves as his office would be the best recovery room in the house for him. The bed was freshly made, I'd disinfected the bejeebers out of the bathroom, all I had to do was get him there. A three inch incision in his abdominal muscles made less than four hours before made the journey seem very long, but we got there. I didn't have to fish my cell phone out of my back pocket from a pinned position beneath a man who outweighs me by eighty pounds, so tick one off in the win column, I say.

"You're tall," a voice beside me said hopefully, as I stood in front of the dairy case, "is there anyway you could reach that for me?"

My head swiveled in the general direction of the voice, and then my neck began to crane down, and down some more. A woman in her eighties stood beside me, perhaps as tall as my grandmother.

"Sure thing," I said, and truthfully this happens to me a lot. I am just one of those people that others feel free to ask for help. "1% or 2?"

As we discussed dairy expiration dates, I handed her down a half gallon of milk, wished her a Happy New Year, and went on my way feeling capable, and tall. It happens to us all, we occasionally encounter someone in need of just a little bit of help, and we provide it, feeling a bit stronger and ready to face the world. Convinced of our own aptitude in taking on the world. That had happened two days prior to feeling like a highly squishable bug in comparison to my husband. Sometimes we are giants, sometimes we feel very small in contrast to the task at hand.

I don't think about my son's height often, either. His father is tall, but he took after my side of the family, and if he remains his present height, he'll be just under 5'10" by a hair or so. Average height, just like his mom. He may still be growing, as men frequently grow into their twenties, but he'll never be a man of great stature. This seems to bother him not at all.

Last night, after a fairly long day of helping my husband, and worrying about how in the world I'd manage if he did fall, my son arrived home from work. I was glad to see him, in part because in my worry over tottering husbands, I'd completely forgotten to pick something up at the drugstore that he would need.

"I'll go for you," my son offered but I hesitated.

"Uh...I don't think you really want to, it's something embarrassing. I'll get it," I was tired, more from worry than anything, but my son is nineteen and one of the girls he dates works at Wallgreens, where I needed to go.

"I think I can handle it," he said confidently, "what is it?"

Well, crap. The details of life are not always pleasant, and people are supposed to take a specific product after general anesthesia, "I really don't think you want to get this one, buddy, it's stool softener."

"Yeah well, everyone there poops too," he shrugged, "if they don't they've got bigger problems than what I'm buying."

I stared at him for a second, and shook my head slightly.

"You okay?" my son asked as he grabbed his keys and I nodded as I thanked him. He went on his way, and returned with the necessary, if somewhat mortifying product, with little fanfare.

I couldn't help but laugh a little bit. Although this has been true for at least five years, yesterday was the first time I noticed in any meaningful way that my son's height exceeds my own substantially.

Flint looked tall to me.


Shrinky said...

Seems you've raised quite a giant there between the both of you, regardless of his actual height, huh? My eldest is eighteen, my jaw would be on the floor if he had volunteered to fill that particular prescription for me! Hope the op soon proves to be well worthwhile, any operation is stressful, and not always mostly for the patient. (Smile)

Kathryn said...

Oh, Alane, i do love what your write, the way you write, & what you share. :)

You are so very special & it is obvious that your son takes after you in a number of ways.

Happy New Year!

Hilary said...

You have one cool giant of a son there. Colour me unsurprised. :) Nicely written. I hope hubby feels well soon.

Nancy said...

Your son seems to be big in character, if not in height. Hope your husband is up and running around soon. It is amazing how they can operate on us, and then send us on our way! Although no one really wants to stay in the hospital any longer than absolutely necessary anyway.

Miranda said...

I am uhm 5'9" and when I was in the hospital after having my boy the nurses had to help me to the bathroom and both of them female and male were shorter then me. And they both said "OH! I didn't realize how tall you were!" I don't feel tall though, I live in a family of giants. My family and Jesse's. My brother is 6'7 and Jesse's brother is 6'8...
Anyway, I still get your use of tools to reach things, because even though I'm tall, Jesse is still taller, and he likes to put things I need higher then I can reach them. Oh and he likes to put mirrors at his eye level...which means I'm looking at my eye brows.
Sorry for the long comment!
Loved your story!! I am also impressed that your son would go do that for his dad!

Derik said...

This was a well-composed piece, nicely done. Happy new year and all that, of course.

Pauline said...

marvelous telling from the first word to the last! Hope your husband recovers without squishing you. Kudos to your tall son :)

Tabor said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog and what a pleasant read this one was. You have made me understand how seeing through the eyes of others can be so important. And you done good girl, on raising that son!

The Bug said...

I'm 5'4", but I don't really feel short until I try to reach for something over my head. Dr. M is about 9 or 10 inches taller than me - and I'm ALWAYS surprised about that fact when I go to kiss him. That's quite a stretch!

Hope your husband has an easy recovery - & I echo everyone else - kudos on your great son! You'll need to tell us an unfavorable story about him or we'll start thinking he's perfect!

P.S. My dad has a gizmo that his short wife uses a lot - it's a "grabber" (don't know the technical term), but it's a metal pole with a sort of pistol grip on one end where you can open & close the pincers on the other end. I want one!

Land of shimp said...

Hello, Shrinky. I was just enjoying your pictures of an English snow day yesterday, thank you for sharing those. I wasn't surprised that Flint volunteered to go to the store for me, he's very good about that sort of thing, but I was ready to drop from shock when he was willing to search for that particular product, in front of a girl he dates.

My husband is doing well, but you're quite right, there's stress enough for everyone when it comes to operations.

Hello, Kathryn, and a Happy New Year to you too! I hope you're doing well, and thank you. I write such run of the mill, everyday encounters, but I'm always so glad when people like them. I'm even more pleased when people I like, like them :-)

Thank you, Hilary. He's a good kid, in many respects. One of the funnier things is that his reply sounded so much like something I would say, it was almost stunning. He's very much his own person, so it's always surprising when I he expresses a view that could have come out of my own mouth.

His dad (my ex-husband) is almost my polar opposite, so he had a lot of diversity in the views he was exposed to. Whenever he says or does something that hits that "Wow, that's a lot like me." I'm always aware that it involved no small amount of conscious choice on his part.

Good morning, Nancy! Isn't that just astounding? My husband was literally sent home with super glue holding his incision together, another fact that floors me. I felt like I needed to heave all the nail polish remover in the house out, just to be on the safe side. He's actually at work today, amazingly enough. Glue guarding his intestines and all!

Miranda, it's good to see you :-) No need to apologize for a long comment, I truly enjoy long comments (and am very prone to them myself). I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one competing in the wooden spoon events! That makes perfect sense to me, as it feels so natural to store something at eye level.

My husband teases me that he can never find things I put away because they are too low. I told him, "Yes, but my method requires you to keep looking, yours requires that I keep growing, which seems unlikely at this stage."

Hi Derik, it's good to see your screenname. Happy New Year to you, too. Thank you and I'll return the visit in a bit here. It's funny, I literally thought of you yesterday -- read something about the weather in the Dakotas. Stay warm (yeah, like that'll be easy).

Pauline, thank you. You write so well, and I know you actually teach writing, don't you? I know I'm not technically proficient, I tend to break rules and I'm a menace with comma. Just saying, I think it's awfully kind of you to overlook my technical shortcomings, and it means a lot to me.

Tabor, I read your well deserved post of the week and thought about it for quite a bit afterward. That was quite the gift to all who read it, and I thank you in my own turn.

Land of shimp said...

Hello, Bug! I've seen those grabbers, and they always make me laugh because they are the stuff of infomercials, yet they look so darned handy.

My son is a good kid, but thankfully he's far from perfect (I'd suffer by comparison if he was). He's a slob extraordinaire, for starters!

Here's a story about him that will prove he isn't perfect. My husband drives a car that is not particularly good in the snow (wise buy in Colorado, eh?) and when it snows, he frequently takes mine, an SUV.

My son's car (which is just my old car) is quite good in the snow. So during the week of Christmas my husband had to take my car, and my son had a doctor's appointment. He's a type 1 diabetic, and he's not great about maintaining his blood sugar levels, so I go with him, to get the skinny on his health.

I tell my son, "Clean your car, please. We have to take yours, and I'm going to be driving it, because it's snowing." (the roads were horrible) He dutifully cleans his car with no grumbling.

HOLY CATS, it was a bio-hazard in there after he cleaned it. I swear to you, the entire interior was mysteriously sticky. I was freaked out to even sit in the darned thing, let alone drive it.

Periodically I have to threaten him with dire consequences "Clean that room, or I will tag you for sale on Ebay."

He is a good kid, I wouldn't trade him, and I'm fortunate in that I like him as much as I love him, but perfect? Hehe, oh my lord. He dates like he's competing for some sort of medal.

Also, go back to the very first entry in this blog and you can see a picture of his tattoo, which he got when he was eighteen, against my express wishes (although, what the heck was I going to do?)...and Dana, do you know how he chose to reveal this to me? The thing I'd been trying to talk him out of for years, so he knew darned well it was going to upset me.

When were driving down Sante Fe Blvd, with me at the wheel, going 50 mph, on the way to a doctor who is a personal friend of mine he asks, "Is it okay if I go in by myself?" "Joel's a friend of mine, honey, so I'd like to go in with you..." "Oh, okay. Well then, I have something to tell you..."

Only if he had chosen to reveal the tatt while I was in the midst of putting out a housefire could his timing have been worse.

On the upside, that "42" is in honor of Douglas Adams, and he had it put on there because he we both like the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy so much. ARGH!!!

And one more "Really, he's so far from perfect" piece of proof? He tells me, "Don't worry, it didn't cost anything. I know a guy who is trying to build his business, so he did it for free."

Yes, my son let someone practice on him with a tattoo. Oy.

But he did get fabulous grades for his first semester of college, and is overall a credit to the human race...but there are times, oh yes, there are times.

Cabo said...

Oh that brought back such memories. My ex wife is 5' tall and I'm 6'4". When we were first married people used to say to me "Is this your little sister?" ha ha. Thanks for the chuckle!

Land of shimp said...

I'm glad it made you chuckle, Cabo. I wonder if Rob would have still fallen for me had our height difference been that pronounced? No way to know, but he generally dated very tall women.

I know one of his ex-girlfriends rather well, a six-foot-tall former model, she's married and lives in Israel now, but when I first got to know my husband, it was almost a case of "Well for god's sake, it's far too easy to hate her, I'd better be her friend instead. She's bright and funny too, heaven help me, and looks insanely good in a bikini, and he broke things off with her.

The first time I ever saw a picture of his ex-girlfriend, we'd been together for a fair amount of time. I told him, "I can only conclude that I must have just the best personality on the face of the Earth, because that's the sort of woman you normally date?"

I'm assuming that part of what led to the dissolution of your relationship with your ex was that one day you simply misplaced her, all the way down there.

My husband says that occasionally he has the vague sense of something happening far below, close to the ground, and small sounds will drift up towards him. It will turn out that I'm talking, you see.

But if the sounds I was making had a further five inches to drift? I doubt he'd ever hear a thing I said ;-)

Meadowlark said...

YoungSon buys "chick stuff" for his fiance without blinking an eye. Husband will do the same for me, but I am painfully uncomfortable with both those and prophylactics. (thought that was the polite term) :)

They're better men than I could ever be. Even if I'm not a man.

Saw you at Kathryn's place and what you said about the dog, Bear, is what I wanted to say. You have a great way with words.

Land of shimp said...

Meadowlark, my husband is the same way, there is nothing he would flinch over if I asked him to buy it for me. He is impossible to mortify.

I jumped into the exchange over at Kathryn's precisely because I wondered if that was perhaps what you were getting at. It would be a bit like leaving me in charge of a beloved Bonsai tree. I'm responsible, I'd water it, put it in the sun when told, etc. but if you are looking for someone to love and nurture that same Bonsai tree in your absence? Pick someone who actually loves Bonsais. I've little feeling for them, and can't manufacture plant love because I'm told, "But they really are incredible." to me? It's a frustrated tree, nothing more.

Thank you for stopping by, and for the kind words. I do love animals, by the way, but I got what you were saying :-)

DUTA said...

Nurses at hospitals dislike tall people, fat people, and tall fat people for the usual reason: it's hard to move them. The medical staff is happy only with bird-size patients.

At the beginning of the year I attended a wedding of two young people: she was very short and he very tall, I'm afraid they looked rather ridiculous when they danced and when she spoke to him and he had to bend doiwn. But love is blind, as they say.

the b in subtle said...

i'm so happy to have discovered you (via a comment on hey cabo). my mother is 5'0 also. though there is height on my father's side and i think my son will definitely be taller than i have been able to reach. i'm only 5'2 (though i don't have eyes of blue like my son). You're definitely not short on talented writing. nice to 'meet' you.

Land of shimp said...

Hey there, DUTA. Good to see you :-) Yes, you're absolutely right. My oldest friend is a nurse, and ruptured a disk in her back, lifting a sizable patient. Rob is tall, but he's lean, that's why he was able to spot the hernia before it was giving him any discomfort.

On the young couple at the wedding, I'm sure they do look rather amusing, side-by-side but about the last criteria anyone should choose a spouse upon would be, "How do we look together?"

It is amusing for bystanders, though!

Hello b-in-subtle, it's nice to e-meet you also, and thank you for stopping by. It was probably when I was rambling on about Polar bears, wasn't it?

Hehe, I'm something of a menace in a comment section, as I'm a virtual stranger to brevity. Glad to have you here, and thank you.

Amy said...

Alane, You weave a good story; your son is simply awesome. And I love his sense of humor - that will take him far for sure!

I had to laugh at your comment re his tattoo that he got when he was 18. Our youngest got her first a few months before her 18th birthday. Now why I didn't question her wearing a sweater during the hot summer months I'll never know! It took me years to accept her body art, and now that I'm okay with it, she realizes that maybe she overdid it. The good news is that number 1, she is mature enough to admit that, and number 2, she loves herself enough to embrace her tattoos as part of who she is for better or worse.

Anyway, this was a great post and I'm happy your husband is back on the job so to speak and feeling better. Do you have much snow in Denver right now? We just have fog, so I'm not complaining!

Land of shimp said...

Oh Amy, can I ever relate! We moved to this house in June, and it has a pool. Now my son used to be a competitive swimmer, and at the time he was working as a lifeguard, yet he never, ever used the pool.

I thought nothing of it. I didn't notice that he always had a shirt on, either. Although prior to that he would frequently travel from the bathroom, to his room, with a towel. I noticed the change, but thought nothing of it.

On the way home from that appointment, after I had seen the blasted thing -- which I have now made complete peace with because the bottom line is that it is his own, personal body to do with as he chooses -- he did say, "Well at least now I can use the pool!"

My son, master of the half-full philosophy. I'll tell you candidly that there is a part of me that likes that he made his own decision. I think that to have a happy life, people do need to be self-directed. I've always told him to listen to the words of others, but to make sure he actually knows his own opinions.

His opinions on tatts differed from my own, clearly :-) Got just what I paid for in that, didn't I? Spend years telling a kid, "You are your own person. You are not merely an extension of me. Tell me what you think, not what you think I want to hear." and it may just come back to bite you on Sante Fe blvd, at high speeds!

So I'm weirdly a little bit proud of the kid for hearing me out, for fully understanding my point, and then making his own determination...because attitudes towards tatts have changed a great deal, and he was wise enough to get one where even a short-sleeved T-shirt would cover it.

Amy, I hope you check back for responses, because I've got a favor to ask of you: Would you consider putting a link to your blog in your profile? I sometimes have a really hard time navigating over to your blog. For almost everyone else, I just click on their profiles, and hey presto, there's a blog link. You don't have your blog linked to in yours.

I'm sorry if I'm out of line in requesting that, but I like going to your blog and I have a feeling a lot of other folks would too :-)

Land of shimp said...

To be clear on the above: There is a link in the profile when you respond/leave a comment. But if I click on your icon in followers, there's no link.

Amy said...

Alane, You are truly a very, very good 'bloggy' friend. Thank you for the head's up! You'd think that someone who has had a webpage of one sort or another for over 10 years would be more computer savvy. I'm the prototype of the person who cannot seem to grasp anything related to stuff like this, but I somehow manage to get somewhat straightened out thanks to dears like you!

Now, I have a favor to ask you - could you check to see if I corrected the situation? You know, I always check the follow-up comment box when I post a comment, and now I've learned a good way to quickly go other blogs of interest, so thanks again!

Land of shimp said...

Not yet, Amy. But I think I got it, go to your blog: click on your profile on your blog, select that edit profile from that location. Make sure "share my profile" is checked off, and then two below that? Click "select blogs to display" and make sure you've got your "miscellany" checked off on that menu.

You can also add it if it isn't displayed. I think that should do it.

It's the strangest thing, because it is available when you post a comment, by selecting your screenname, but currently it is not available if I click on your avatar in followers.

And no problem on this, we all need help with stuff from time to time, and I'm not any good at it personally, either. So I find it fun to puzzle through this stuff with others, because then I know it too :-)

Land of shimp said...

Oh...and don't forget to "save settings"!

Amy said...

Alane, I checked all of that - I think the problem was on your followers list. I added a link to my blog on that. Now I have to go to all the blogs I "follow" and make sure I'm linked. Because on my profile page, everything is okay NOW, because this morning after you gave me the head's up, I was able to add the link per your instruction.

I hate to clog up your comments like this - would regular email be better? Anyway, if you check it and it still doesn't work, I think I'll go stark, raving mad!

Thanks again for all your help!!!

Land of shimp said...

It's fixed, Amy! Don't worry about clogging up the comment section, I'm the one who brought it up! But if you ever need to reach me, my email is I don't have it in my profile because I've found that I get spam galore when I do that anywhere.

However, to any real people? I've no problem just saying, "Here's my email, have fun!"

Land of shimp said...

And by the way, you're welcome, it's my pleasure. Anything I can do to help get people to other neat blogs? My pleasure :-)

Jo said...

Your son is much taller in character than he is even in height. What a nice young man you have raised.

I'm 5ft. 1-1/2in, so the whole is taller than I am. I often have to ask someone to reach something for me at the grocery store.

I am just catching up on my blogging, and have missed some of your posts, and have not had a chance to respond to your comments on my blog. I always love reading your comments!


Land of shimp said...

Thank you, Jo! It's always good to see your name out here, in the blogosphere. I'm so glad you like my comments. I'm pretty opinionated, and verbose, that's for sure!

I hope life is treating you well, and again, lovely to see you.

The pale observer said...

Imagine if someone like your grandmother had married someone your hubby's height?!

Well - hope by now hubby is all better :)

Long time, no cyber banter!


Holli in Ghana

Kyle said...

Alane, I'm impressed with the way your son acted about the drug store. You obviously brought him up well. Lots of character to match the height.

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Tyrone Brown said...

You have one cool giant of a son there. Colour me unsurprised. :) Nicely written. I hope hubby feels well soon.

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