One of the things I remember most vividly about fifth grade was being the second-tallest kid in the class. Another girl was the taller, but I came in a close second at over five feet. Little did I know that would be the end of my surprising growth spurt.
For some reason, our class had to line up by height that year, with the shortest in the front and the tallest in the back. That really emphasized the fact that the boys in general were shorter than the girls. On the rare occasion that dance partners were paired up, none of the boys wanted to dance with the ‘freaks’ like my friend and me. So we danced with each other.
I was convinced that I would always be tall. The one boy I really liked was a full head shorter than I was and of course he liked a little girl who was sweet and tiny, not a tomboy like me. So I always said it didn’t bother me and I continued to be ‘one of the guys’ instead of a girlfriend. My one sympathetic concession was when I noticed that a boy was overly conscious of his lack of height. Then I usually sat down or slouched just so he wouldn’t be reminded of the difference.
Fast forward about seven years to preparation for high school graduation. Once again, we were told to line up according to height. Without any hesitation, I meandered on down to the end of the line where my guy buddies were lining up.
Surprisingly, they started laughing at me! I had a bit of a reputation for frequently clowning around and they all thought I was being funny. They didn’t know I was actually serious. It wasn’t until one of my friends on the basketball team came over to me, put his arm around my shoulders and said, “Pipsqueaks belong at the other end.” As I looked up and up and up at him, it suddenly became obvious to me that he indeed was considerably taller than me. How had I missed that?
Somehow, all through high school, I never noticed that the boys had started to shoot up, while I had barely grown any taller since fifth grade. Being buddies with all the guys at school, I never dated much. In fact, on my few dates, I was always too shy to sit or stand very close to the boys. Oh, I also still tended to slouch.
Remember my last blog about not having any depth perception? I always wondered if that was part of the problem, too, with my height perception. Anyway, by that time, considerably more than half the class had grown taller than me, including many of the girls.
At just over five feet two inches and a quarter tall, I didn’t want to be teased with “Five foot two, eyes of blue, etc.” So if anyone ever asked about how tall I was, I always said “five foot two and three quarters.” I don’t recall now exactly why I felt compelled to stretch the extra half inch. But even today, I’m tempted once in a while to still exaggerate it, just that tiny little bit.