The adventures of the vertically advantaged

I AM 6 feet, 3-1/2 inches tall. When I was a teenager, I seemed taller. No, I have not shrunk, but in those days a person my height stood out.

I played center on the high school basketball team and usually was the tallest person on the court. Today, some centers are 7 feet. I would qualify only as a guard.

Being tall in New York City has advantages. On Fifth Avenue, l have an unobstructed view of the parades coming up the avenue. At museum blockbuster shows, from the back of the crowd I can see most paintings.

Since I can be seen from afar, I lead friends along jampacked city streets, although most of them, being free spirits, wander off on their own, leaving me without followers.

There are some drawbacks to being tall. New York City taxicabs were not designed for people like me. To enter and exit from a cab requires me to become a contortionist. During the ride there is no room for my legs.

When I sit down at a movie, people behind me grumble that I am obstructing their view. I sink deep into the seat. During the performance I inch my way up. There are fewer complaints this way.

Friends who are much taller than I am never hit their heads. I envy them. I hit mine often, not being tall enough to be always on guard.

I walk into building awnings and tree branches on the street. Unless I bend my knees when entering a subway car, I crush my hat. Low-hung traffic signs are a hazard. I bump my head on low ceilings in library stacks when searching for books. My encounters with unyielding stationary objects are never pleasant.

But in the total scheme of things, these are minor complaints. I enjoy being tall. Not as tall as a skyscraper, or the Brooklyn Bridge, but still pretty tall.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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