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Country Roads: A tall order

Arvid Huisman huismaniowa@msn.com
Arvid Huisman huismaniowa@msn.com

There are some things over which we have absolutely no control. Our height is one of them.

I come from a line of tall people. My great uncle Klaas was 6’6” and weighed 300 pounds in his prime. In the early years of the 20th century Uncle Klaas was a giant. Some of the older farmers for whom I worked in the ’60s remembered Uncle Klaas and his remarkable strength. At 6’7” and more than 300 pounds, I am a present-day Uncle Klaas, minus the remarkable strength.

In sales my size was an asset; people tend to remember large folks. In many other areas, my size has been a liability.

I can’t buy clothing off the rack in department or discount stores. Omar the Tentmaker and other big and tall clothiers by necessity charge more for their wares. My only choice of a non-truck motor vehicle is a mini-van. If cars and minivans keep getting smaller, my next vehicle will be a dump truck.

Airplanes – don’t even go there. My legs are too long and my butt is too wide.

I share this mind-numbing trivia to help you understand a little accident that occurred earlier this month.

One of the door’s in my fiancée’s basement is lower than normal; about 6’3” high. Even though I have pretty good low clearance radar, I had already scraped my head a couple of times on this door.

While working in the basement recently I was in a hurry and, as a result, my radar malfunctioned altogether. As I walked on a long-legged trot, my head struck the door frame with such force my larger-than-normal body dropped to the concrete floor and up against a set of wooden shelves. The tools I was carrying scattered across the floor. My head throbbed and my hip hurt from the fall.

After taking inventory to be sure I was still alive, I pulled myself up from the floor and touched the top of my head. It was bleeding.

Slowly, I made my way upstairs to the bathroom where I applied a cold washcloth to the wound which, after several minutes, stopped bleeding. With my odd size and lack of coordination, I have long been a chiropractic patient. It takes a lot to keep this frame in alignment. As I sat with a cold washcloth on my head I could feel that the door frame strike and the fall to the concrete had knocked my frame out of alignment. I called my chiropractor right away for an appointment. Dr. Amy observed that I had done a real number on my skeletal system and got me realigned. I am now ducking for anything less than 7’ high.

The incident has caused me to reevaluate this height situation. In the movies, women talk about preferring men who are tall, dark and handsome. One out of three just doesn’t cut it.

When I purchased long term care insurance several years ago I was told that if I were any taller I could not buy a policy. No reason was given. I am left to assume that I would take up too much room in a nursing home.

I know I am an unwelcome vision-blocker. Some years ago I overhead a group of little old ladies sitting behind me in church grumbling. “Can you see?” “No, I can’t see a thing.” I wanted to say, “Ladies, I was here first. Did you think I was transparent?” Instead, I sat elsewhere on subsequent Sundays. Nowadays, I look for a far back pew so as not to block the vision of others.

As I said, there is nothing we can do about our height. I try to make the best of it with humor.

At an industry meeting several years ago we were asked to introduce ourselves by giving our name, our current position and what we did before getting into the fundraising business.

When it was my turn, I stated my name and current position. Then I said, “And prior to that I was a jockey at Prairie Meadows race track.”

It took a few seconds but when the crowd envisioned a 6’7” heavy-set jockey they began laughing… heartily.

As with many things for which we have no control, laughter can keep us from despair.

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