Dear Michael and Caroline,
It was probably right around the age of 12 that I started to worry about winding up too short.All my friends were taller, some probably as much as six inches taller, and most of my classmates, too, male and female alike.
I’d already taken an interest in sports, in playing baseball and basketball and football, and I wanted to excel, but being shorter than my competitors seemed no advantage. I’d also taken a blooming interest in girls, in how much prettier they are than boys, and being short was no big plus there, either.
The event that really brought home my height difference with my contemporaries was my bar mitzvah. As it happened, I had a triple bar mitzvah, because we three were all born around the same time.
One guy, named Mike, was already almost six feet tall.The other, named Ross, was a husky five-six. And then there was me, barely five feet tall and maybe – maybe – 100 pounds.
You can see the photos in my bar mitzvah album, Mike looming like a skyscraper, then Ross, then me, lowslung as Manhattan’s West Village.
OK, so set aside for a moment such considerations as childhood self-consciousness (if you can in good conscience actually do so).Forget that except perhaps socially my height really made no difference.What really bothered me now as the worry that I might always be short.
I thought I might never grow any taller.
And I remember expressing my worry to my grandmother.
“I’m so short,” I might have said. “Why am I so short? Am I never going to get any taller?”
And my grandmother always reassured me that I would get taller, that I would eventually catch up with my friends, that I might even attain greater height than they.
I tried to believe her.But I suspected she was merely telling me what she felt she needed to tell me, what I should hear, rather than the truth.
I would have to see for myself.I would have to see it in the mirror and in the clothes I wore getting too small.
P.S. – See part 2 tomorrow.