Measure Of A Man (1988 Chicago Tribune Article)

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Measure Of A Man (1988 Chicago Tribune Article)
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Measure Of A Man
Gauging Charm By Inches Is The Height Of Idiocy
November 06, 1988 | By Evelyn Storr Smart.


Original Article Here


``He`s terrific,`` I said to my single friend, Carol. ``He`s attractive, sexy, smart, honest-and an achiever.``

She put her glass of chardonnay on the coffee table. ``That`s some combination.``

``He`s tender,`` I continued, ``compassionate.``

She leaned forward. ``Sound like a dream.`

``He owns a condominum and drives a little black BMW.``

She hopped to her feet. ``Go on! Go on!``

``He knows how to uncork wine. He even cooks: shrimp remoulade, kinugoshi.``

Her eyes were ready to pop out. ``How tall is he?``

``I don`t know. What difference does that make?``

``He`s short, isn`t he?``

``Who cares?`` I felt my voice rising. ``He has a terrific sense of humor. He`s what you`ve said you always wanted.``

She picked up her glass. ``He`s a shrimp, isn`t he?``

It seems slightly absurd, but the question, ``How tall is he?``, is almost always one of the first questions a woman asks about a man she hasn`t met yet.

How honest, smart, compassionate don`t come close. A man can spawn a world-class orchestra, oversee a 200-room luxury hotel, think numbers like an IBM computer. But the answer to ``How tall is he?`` will be the deciding factor in whether she wants to meet him.

It would be tempting to chalk all this up to women`s historic desire to be protected. But now the topic of height seems to be cropping up everywhere. Should Dukakis stand next to Bentsen? Should he sit down, stroll around?

And there`s more. One tall man I know insists that for every inch under 5 feet 10 inches a man loses $5,000 a year: ``He can have everything else going for him, but if he`s, uh, short, fame and fortune will usually be out of reach.``

It sounded like the old blemish game to me, the one that goes ``She`s so sweet, devoted to her mother, captain of the volley ball team, but she`s a little, uh, chunky.``

In real life women are as apt to fall in love with and marry short men as tall.

In real life, some women prefer short men.

Marjorie, promiscuous in her salad days, swears that they alone focused their complete amatory attentions on her: ``Tall men are so sure of themselves, so high and remote. No matter what dumb things they say their words come from a higher order. Short men make much better lovers. Sure, some are cocksure, but for the most part they try harder and do better.``

It`s very human to want to be physically attractive, no matter how that attraction is perceived. In my early teens all sex scenes were censored, so instead of showing cleavage the female stars wore iron-fortified bras that kept the breasts pointing toward heaven even when the women were on their backs. My friends and I, thinking we were anatomically deprived, swore we`d never make love lying down, even on our wedding night.


This idea that tallness equals superiority seems just as nutty. And the stakes are so much higher. Sure, tall men are better at playing basketball and removing cobwebs from ceilings. But does any reasonable person really believe that height has anything to do with intelligence, competence or the ability to make love or sign treaties? Does anyone know or care how tall Einstein or Beethoven or Pasternak was? If logic prevailed, the answers would be a flat no. So who is perpetuating this myth?

Deciding to do my own research I tucked measuring tape and notepad into my purse and headed to a cocktail party. There was no hesitation. All the men were happy to tell me their measurements right down to a tenth of an inch. But when I whipped out the tape my sense of the ridiculous hit a banner high. Not only short men but also tall men had added, on the average, 1/2-inch to their height.

So it`s true. Men truly believe that every additional inch will get them more money, more beautiful women, happier times. And for the most part the women concur.

Only one person struck a different note:

``Remember,`` said a 6-foot, 4-incher, ``when people equate being tall with being better, their expectations are very high.

You try to meet those expectations, and of course you can`t, so everyone ends up disappointed. In the long run I think it would be easier to be short.``

Which brings me back to Carol. Despite her wariness she finally agreed to meet the humorous, successful, smart, short man I had described.

She expected nothing to come of it, and her first thought on seeing him was, ``If I married this man I`d be wearing flats and searching for nickels the rest of my life.``

But first impressions are fleeting. On their second date she stopped seeing the outside of the package and started seeing the inside.

On the third she decided it was true: This gentle, whimsical, attractive man was everything she`d been looking for. Today they are as close as two people can possibly be who are still housed in separate bodies.

Maybe someday small and compact will be the ideal. After all, computers, designed for state-of-the-art efficiency, have gone from big to small in a blink. We have micro- this and mini- that, with not less but more intelligence stored on smaller chips than ever before.

Maybe as the planet ages and the food chain weakens and the air becomes thick with pollutants, people who eat less, who take up less space, who breathe less air will be the most valued. Maybe small will be beautiful.