ISOBEL COCKERELL says its time to cast our heightist prejudices aside and start sharking for small fry.
Last summer I landed a tiddler.
This came as bit of a surprise. Up until then I’d maintained, and strongly, that small men should be thrown back. I was a bigot in the most classic sense of the word: with no hands-on experience, I had written off small men as creepy and inconsequential. But then I met him, and the old yardstick was tossed out and a new one whittled.
It was not without difficulties. The greatest trouble to beset us had to do with cultural sensitivity. Small folk have a whole litany of hangups that us tall ones can’t comprehend, and they can easily offend.
Very early on he came to meet me at the station. Overjoyed, I dropped my bags and ran headlong into his outstretched arms. He went flying. It was the first of several quiet notes-to-self: ‘stop a little short of your mate if you are not going to stampede him.’ ‘Try not to pat him on the head too often, or chuck him under the chin.’ ‘Don’t let him dress in anything that looks remotely like school uniform, because when you are on a date, people might mistake you for mother and son on the school run.’ And so on.
Short mandom is a minefield, one that the large feet of tall women are apt to detonate. We were at a Halloween party recently, the little man resplendent in a dark cape with silver facings. “Oh wow, I love Lord of the Rings, where did you score such a good Frodo costume?” I enquired. “I’m meant to be Count Dracula,” he muttered, crestfallen. The opportunities to offend are endless: both by thought and deed.
Other things went much more smoothly. Though I had fretted interminably about bedroom life (will I have to put all my weight on my elbows to avoid crushing the little fellow?), it all worked out very well in the end. It’s all about angles.
But as my notes-to-self accumulated, I began to realize that Napoleon Syndrome was no myth. The theory goes that short men tend to be more jealous, chippy and even aggressive than tall ones. The question: is this a genetic failing or have bigots like me driven them to it?
Since I broke the habit of a lifetime and stopped ignoring everyone below eye-level, I have had countless comments, mainly from other girls, who exclaim ‘but he’s MORE than HALF your HEIGHT’. So what?
It boils down to this: can we even call ourselves feminists if we concede to the advantage of male height? Do we really need a big strong man to protect us from the big bad patriarchy? Let’s stop bowing down to the tyranny of tall, dark and handsome, and instead loom proudly over the short, scrawny and stocky. I admit it doesn’t have the same ring, but there we go.
The biggest anatomical thing of course is the heart: it wants what it wants. Although me and my little one didn’t ultimately see eye to eye, I wouldn’t have swapped him for a giant.
The biggest lesson I learnt was that it is worth glancing down once in a while, you never know what you might find. After all, there are plenty more tiddlers in the sea.