Mel and I were watching Family Feud. The question was, “Name one reason a woman would turn down a date with an attractive man.” The number three answer was, “too short.”
“What the hell,” I said. I went on, saying things like, “This is ridiculous!” and “Who writes this crap?”
We were in a hotel that had a view of the Oregon coast. This trip was for our ten-year anniversary, and outside was a raging storm with 60 MPH wind gusts. So we were inside, next to the electric fireplace, watching a game show.
Mel started laughing at my reaction, then, with a smile, she said, “You are not that short.”
“But I’m not that tall, either,” I said.
I’m self-conscious about my height. I stand 5’ 6”, 5’ 7” with the right shoes. When I started writing, readers would always comment on the fact that I made it a point to describe my characters’ height. I even had one reader say, “I think you are obsessed with height.” I didn’t realize it until then, but she was right.
I think a lot about how tall I am in comparison to other people. Sometimes I still think about the taller women I was attracted to, but didn’t have the nerve to ask out because I was short. I always assumed that these insecurities would magically disappear after I got married, but here it was ten years later and I’m still obsessing about this. Sometimes, I will see a man from a distance and think to myself, “That guy is short.” Then I will get close to him and realize that he is taller than me. I hate when that happens. I’ve spent a lot of years being told that I was too short to play basketball, or too small for football, or just not tall enough to date.
I have a lot of jokes about my height. Many of them I say early in a friendship as a way to beat others to the punch. Jokes like, “I should live in a tree and make fudge”… that sort of thing. The problem with being sort is that there really isn’t any way to overcome it. For example, when I was skinny, about 130 pounds, I was often described as scrawny. When I was bodybuilding, people said I had “little man disorder.” Now that I’m 30 and a little soft, I am described as stocky. None of these labels is attractive. Short is not sexy. Short can be cute, like the Ewoks in Star Wars. They were cute and little. But no one wants to sleep with them.
I just want to be sexy.
Try and find pants that fit my waist and height… I dare you!
This really was one of the reasons Mel seemed so magical. She stands about 5’ 2”. This is not to say that I hadn’t dated women shorter than me. But often times short women want tall men. I once asked a friend of mine why this is, and she said, “Because a big guy makes you seem smaller. And small women are sexy.”
“How does a short guy make you feel?” I said.
“I don’t know,” she said. “I don’t think about them much.”
Mel was sitting on the lip of the hotel bed, and I was in a chair. We were both eating pizza. I was still bitching about the “too short” answer on Family Feud.
“When we met, let’s say that I was a head shorter than you.” I said. “Would you have still dated me?”
Mel thought about it for a moment. She crossed her legs. “Probably not.”
“Why not? We have been married for ten years. I’m really charming. I make you laugh. I’m great in bed.”
I winked. Mel smiled.
“I don’t see why this matters,” she said. “If you were much taller, I wouldn’t have dated you either. I don’t really like tall guys. It’s not my thing. You were just the right height for me. That’s why I was interested in you. I think you are sexy. I don’t see why me loving you doesn’t help you get over this short thing.”
Mel gave me a forced smile, and I could tell that she wasn’t saying this out of anger or irritation. It was more out of frustration. She seemed to be saying it because she wanted me to understand that my insecurities were not valid in our relationship.
“What other women think of you is not my problem,” she said. “When we met, I just knew that you were right. I’ve always believed that there is someone out there for everyone, and when I met you I knew that you were that person… height and all. You keep bringing this up, and some ways it makes me feel bad. Like you don’t believe me when I say that you are attractive.”
I thought about this, and about how I really am the one in our relationship who bitches about the way I look. I’m the self-conscious one. Mel has never asked if she looks fat in something, I’m the one who asks that question. In so many ways, we reverse gender rolls. This is just one example. I have to assume that other relationships do the same. But for the first time in the ten years we have been married, I realized that calling myself unattractive and questioning why Mel was attracted to me, made her feel like I didn’t get her, or us for that matter.
I’d never really thought about it in those terms. And sadly, it took me ten years of marriage to sit down and realize that what other people think about the way I look doesn’t matter anymore. When I tell Mel that I think she is beautiful, I mean it. There is no question. And when Mel tells me that I am sexy, I need to not question it either. We fell in love, and we are still in love, and that is more wonderful than being tall.
“Ok,” I said. “I’m sorry. I believe you. I love you.”
“Good,” she said. “Happy anniversary.”
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Clint Edwards was blessed with a charming and spitfire wife, a video game obsessed little boy, a snarky little girl in a Cinderella play dress, and an angry baby girl. When Clint was 9-years-old his father left. With no example of fatherhood, he had to learn how to be a father and husband through trial and error. His work has been featured in Good Morning America, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, The Good Men Project, Fast Company, and elsewhere. He lives in Oregon. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.