I’m 6’1″, which is tall for a girl. In case I wasn’t aware of that fact, I have an endless supply of strangers who are happy to remind me about it on a daily basis by asking me the same inane questions repeatedly. Here they are, in order from mildly grating to downright bizarre.
4. How tall are you?
Although the question itself may seem innocuous, this one comes down to tone. For the most part, people don’t ask how tall I am with a friendly smile, like how the cute guy at Trader Joe’s asks me if I found everything I needed while I was shopping. No, people ask me how tall I am with an attitude, like, “How tall are you?” What do they think I’m gonna say? “I’m 27 feet and 35 inches, Ma’am.” Are they that bad at estimating? I’m 6’1″. It’s not that crazy.
I especially hate when people ask me how tall I am someplace quiet like in line at the bank or at CVS when I’m trying to snap up bags of discounted Halloween candy because then everyone in the vicinity stops what they’re doing to look at me and hear my answer. “6’1″,” I’ll mumble, hoping the inquisition will end. Usually, it doesn’t. Usually they’ll ask me this next question immediately after:
3. How did you get so tall?
Growth hormones. I drank a lot of milk as a kid. I closed my eyes and willed it to happen. I rubbed a lamp and a genie granted me my height as one of my three magical wishes. I have no idea how I got so damn tall. Spoiler alert: my height is a physical feature of mine that I have no control over. Next annoying question, please.
2. Do you play Basketball?
According to most strangers, this is the only acceptable way to use my height. No one asks me if I use my height to reach cereal boxes on the top shelf (which is what I actually use my height for the most). The other thing I use my height for is to hug shorter guys. Those are the top two uses, but this is a post about the top four questions, so sorry for all the numbers. I hope that it’s not too confusing.
For the record, I have never played basketball. Well, that’s not entirely true. I took a basketball camp for two weeks one summer before 9th grade and I hated it. I ditched the last day of camp, and my sister found out, told my parents about it and they grounded me for one day. That was the only time in my life my parents ever grounded me and they abandoned the grounding five hours into it when they got sick of me pestering them asking if I could watch television yet. Am I supposed to explain this story to every stranger who talks to me while I’m trying to snag coffee in a hurry at 7-11? Yeah, right. So no, I don’t play basketball.
Speaking of parents, we now arrive at the #1 most annoying question I get asked:
1. How tall are your parents?
I can’t think of any other situation in life outside of a medical setting–or if your last name is Kardashian–where complete strangers would ask a question about your family out of the blue. It has never occurred to me to go up to a short person and say, “You’re so tiny! Are your parents short?” Or, go up to a bald guy and say, “Get a look at that shiny dome you got there! Is your dad bald too?” But, being tall, everyone wants to know how tall my parents are. They need to know. They freakin’ demand it. They’re all little Barbara Walters and want to probe deeper into the investigation.
Honestly, my parents are sorta tall but whatever. They’re not giants or anything. In fact, I’m taller than both of them. However, vague answers are not good enough for this, the holy grail of dumb questions. Strangers want to know both of my parents’ exact measurements which is tricky because my parents are older and they’ve shrunk the past few years. What am I gonna say? “My dad used to be 6’ but now he’s around 5’10″. My mom is about 5’9″ I’d say, but maybe 5’8″ because she has the beginnings of scoliosis and it’s making her hunch a bit.” Sure, I can lie and just say that I come from a long line of strapping lumberjacks and both of my parents are 6’3″, but I’m a terrible liar and it honestly never occurred to me to lie until I wrote this sentence. I probably should just do that.
But I resent having to talk about my family with anyone who asks. What if I was adopted and had no idea how tall my parents were? What if they were both killed in a freak rollercoaster accident and it’s still painful to talk about? It’s weird, right?
So if you run into me and are wowed by my towering presence, just smile and/or nod politely. Sure you can marvel at my height in your head, but please leave these questions unspoken.
Image via Cobsy Show Caps