Monday, March 8, 2010

Repeat Monday: Tall Tale

Still no Time Warner cable service, and the laundromat is a little too hectic this morning. You wouldn't believe how excited people get when Downy introduces a new scent. Rumor has it I'll be able to access the internet from home starting Thursday: until then, let's look back at some tired old crap.


I'm tall, dark, and handsome, and I think it stinks. The "dark" part is cool, and I wouldn't choose anything other than "handsome." But the "tall" thing is a freakin' pain in the ass.

Of course there are the obvious problems. When I go to the movies, whoever gets stuck behind me sits and swears for two hours. I have permanent twig marks on my forehead from low-hanging branches. And traveling by plane, well. . . . I've had my legs in the air for eight hours before, but never while wearing pants.

What I don't understand, then, is why guys get so jealous.

Whenever I go barhopping, I get a ring of tiny admirers around me, shrieking about how wonderful it is to be tall. "You can see everything around you," they squeal. And I think, "Hey, kids, this ain't Switzerland!" There are no glaciers sliding by, or fluffy little woodland creatures scampering through the shrubbery. We're surrounded by 100 half-dressed men, and while you got your face rubbing Hunky's face, or your tongue on Rugged's chest, I'm left sucking on Toothpick's bald spot.

Yeah. Woohoo. Tall power!

Being gay makes being tall even worse. Straight guys don't care if their clothes are ugly, or dated, or if they fit like burlap sacks. They go to the Big and Tall store, find a polyester shirt with palm trees on it and purple pleated Dockers, and they're like, "Cool. A new outfit."

They're lucky. They're not heading back to Homoland, where the guys wear Prada and Gucci and spit on folks who shop at Sears. People in Heteroville are accustomed to crap, so they don't chase after you with torches when they spot it. They buy shoes at PayLess, food at Wal Mart, and housewares at Target. They don't clutch their palpitating chests when they see a clothing label that reads "Made in America for Freakish Fred's House of Pituitary Problems."

Here's what straight people say when they see a badly-dressed tall guy:

1.) Gosh, he's tall.

2.) I bet his parents are tall.

3.) I wonder if he plays basketball.

Here's their gay equivalent:

1.) Sweet Lord, are those pants from Sears?

2.) That reminds me. I should mail a donation to St. Dymphna's Church for Folks Who Might As Well Just Shoot Themselves.

3.) HeLLOOOO! Halloween is 207 days aWAAAAAY!!!

Lurking just outside the tiny admirers is the Bob Vila Boyfriend, poised for rescue like a knight in shining armor. While he means well, he'll prove a little annoying. It would be cool if he wanted to repair my microwave oven or regrout my bathtub, but it's geeky old me who's the fixer-upper. He approaches me like a building contractor, with a list a mile long on his clipboard, thinly veiled slurs hidden inches below the compliments:

"If you worked out," he says, ticking off item number one, "you could be really gorgeous."

Now, this might qualify as flattering . . . if I hadn't lifted weights three hours a day for the last eight years. Unfortunately, biceps that are longer than the "Lord of the Rings" movies don't quite bulge like ones that are as short as cartoons.

I smile and explain that I've been to the gym once or twice. "You should have seen me 10 years ago," I say. "I was so skinny I could have swum to Manhattan just through the plumbing."

He crosses that off and turns to item number two. "You'd look really hot wearing cotton/khaki/instant pudding/anything other than what you have on."

Which, of course, translates to, "Hey, those are some ugly clothes!" And I think, er, I've always kind of suspected that, because -- hey -- I've GOT EYES.

Now, I like getting a little attention, so sometimes I'll go out with these guys. And then the sad ritual begins. Where a date with Bob Vila might start off at Home Depot, his gay counterpart heads to the Big and Tall Store. "They've got clothes for tall guys there," he explains, and you slap your forehead, like you'd assumed they sold monkeys or clam juice or something.

What he doesn't realize is, you've been there, oh, 500 times. Once to see what they had, and 499 times to confirm that, yes, their clothes suck as bad as you remember. And the store owners are just as happy to see you, standing out like a hot dog in a box full of donuts. "Hey, boss!" the clerk yells. " That tall guy's here again! What should I do?"

The boss sees you searching in vain for anything that'll fit, and flashes back to Godzilla versus Tokyo. "AIEEE!" he screams, scurrying for the door. "Run for your life!"

I cornered a salesclerk during one of my first few visits. "We don't actually have any tall clothes," he admitted sheepishly. "We just put that in the name so it's not as embarrassing for the fat guys."

That makes sense, though it has totally wasted my time. It would be like opening a clothing store for transvestites and Baptists: Most folks don't mind claiming to be one or the other.

And so your clueless new pal drags you back there, just knowing it'll be a sea of Prada XT or Gucci Longue. He'll roam the aisles for an hour or two, looking stunned -- wondering why the Levis top out at a 32-inch inseam, which looks like hotpants on me.

I'll try on some random monstrosity, just to make him feel better, but while I'm in the dressing room he'll scurry off in shame. Me, I've been objectified, insulted, and treated like Formica in a world full of marble. I head to the nearest gay bar, where the Tiny Admirers surround me like a stretched Rue McClanahan. It's as if they're motion-activated: I scratch my head and it fires one up. “How tall are you?” he chirps excitedly. “Six foot seven,” I reply. I look toward the ceiling and another kicks in. “How tall are you?” he asks. “Six foot seven.”

I push my way toward the bar, hoping massive doses of alcohol will make them vanish. The bartender takes my order, then maneuvers his mouth near my ear. "How tall are you?" he asks.

"Six foot seven.”

He looks me up and down. With my height, it takes a while. "I see the six feet,” he finally declares. “Now how about the seven inches?"

It's an old line, but I go home with him anyway.

I love seeing that look of surprise.

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