“Excuse me Miss…” Why being short is a pain in the arse
All my life I have been little and when I say little, I mean, tiny. Sadly not width wise, but height wise.
Think Oompa Loompa, minus the fake tan and green hair…
When we were made to stand in height order for things at school or dance shows, I was always at the front or first smallest. The inevitable humiliation of everyone staring at me and then saying, “Oh! Look! You’re so short!” – Yeah, ya think? I hadn’t fucking well noticed mate, thanks for pointing that out.
As you can probably tell, it bothers me. A lot. I can pretty much guarantee that every week of my life, someone either mentions my height, asks how tall I am or asks me how old I am because of it. I can feel the bloody pressure rise in my body as someone’s brain ticks before my eyes, just as they’re open their mouth to inform me of my stifled height. If I wasn’t such a timid person, I would probably tell them to shut the fuck up.
Sorry, a lot of fucks there but I have many to give on this topic…
As a short person, 5ft on a good day when the wind is blowing in a North-north-westerly direction and it’s a full moon, I have had a number of ‘hilarious’ incidents occur. Don’t get me wrong, they were cringe makingly embarrassing at the time, but even I can look back now and laugh…sometimes.
Here I will share with you just a few of those incidents.
It’s not easy being me.
My headstone will probably read;
“Here lies Gemma Nuttall – Short, voice like a chipmunk on helium and looked quite like the pale british cousin of an Umpa Lumpa. May she rest in peace. Wasn’t she short though…”
1) The Airport
Back in 2006, myself and my other half went on holiday to Portugal with my best friend and her hubby. We had an amazing time. A true pre-kids, happy, carefree, obscene amount of food and alcohol, sunbathing, book reading, holiday.
At Faro airport, on the way back to Blighty, we queued to go through security and, as with every time I go through one of these sodding things, the alarm went off despite me having nothing metallic on me…or so I thought.
I stopped, got pointed in the direction of a stern looking Portuguese lady and was told I was going to be frisked. Great. A pat down in front of everyone. She then hesitated, looked around puzzled and said to Chris, my husband, who was behind me, “Are you her father? Can we frisk her?” He, stifling a massive fit of the giggles in front of the angry Portuguese security officer said, “yes, of course you can! I don’t care what you do, I’m not her Dad!” and walked off so he could fall on the floor and die laughing along with my best mate and her other half. Oh the sodding shame of it all! My (then) boyfriend had been mistaken for my Dad and at the age of 22 I had been mistaken for someone under 16. Shit a brick.
After my pat down by the angry lady, I walked red faced over to my pals and Chris and wanted the ground to open up and swallow me down to Mordor.
Not only had I been mistaken for a child, but my boyfriend was mistaken for my bloody dad! I kept telling myself it’s his fault, not mine, because he looks really bloody old (time clearly hasn’t been kind to hubster…) but truth be told, I do look young for my age, and I am the size of a Hobbit.
2) The petrol station
I drive a massive bloody car because we have so many offspring. A Land Rover Discovery to be precise. “How do you drive that?! Can you even see over the steering wheel?! Can you touch the pedals?!” I get asked. Erm, well, seen as I’ve driven it here, yes, I imagine I can touch the fucking pedals and see over the wheel unless it’s driven itself like a car from Back to the Fucking Future…
Jebus, I really am angry about this aren’t I.
Sorry not sorry.
Anyhow, I digress…
I pull in to a petrol station to fill up and I walk into the station to pay. As I reach the desk, I inform the cashier of my pump number and they look at me, then at the pump, then at me, then at the pump. They frown, tilt their head to one side condescendingly and utter the words, “Are you old enough to fill that car up?”
Erm, yes chap, yes I am. I am in fact the registered owner, I passed my driving test 16 years ago and I can in fact fill this car up as well as drive it.
“Yes, that’s my car and yes I am old enough to fill it. Pump number 3 please…” douchebag.
Everyone behind me in the queue starts following suit, looking at me, looking at the car, looking at me, looking at the car. I want to go all Street Fighter on their asses and drive off into the sunset in my massive beast of a car but restrain, laugh it off and go on my (not so) merry way.
Yet another example of my height and apparent baby face causing me a cringe worthy experience in public.
3) The Supermarket
Back last year, I went into Asda with my little one, who was 2 at the time, to buy him the new Thomas the tank engine DVD. It’s full of violence, swearing and scenes of a sexual nature (I always knew Annie and Clarabell wanted a secret threesome with Thomas…). Of course I am joking, it contains ‘mild peril’ and is rated U. U for UNIVERSAL meaning ANYONE can watch it. ANYONE. You can see where this is going can’t you…
I pop the DVD through the self service checkout and no sooner than I do, the checkout light starts flashing red and the screen says, ‘Age approval required”. Are you fucking serious?! Age approval required for a U rated DVD?!
I wait for a staff member to come and sort the till out whilst I entertain a whinging toddler and once they arrive, they say, “Ah, the till is asking for me to see ID for proof of age for this DVD”.
You what love?! It needs ID approval for a U rated Thomas DVD?!
I laugh in her face.
“Are you serious?” I ask.
“Yes, I’m afraid so, the computer is asking me for it…” she replies.
Fuck the computer. Fuck the Thomas DVD I think in my head.
“Here you go, ID proof that I am over one day old” I sarcastically announce as I pass my Driving Licence over to her for approval.
“Yep, that’s fine, thank you” replies the jobsworth checkout assitant and she hands me my ID back.
What is this madness I find myself in?!
So, as you can see, yes these situations are bloody funny but, truth be told, I do find it really embarrassing and I always have done.
I am now 32 and I still can’t go into a shop without breaking into a sweat if I have alcohol on the checkout, and for someone with a huge love for Gin, that is an actual nightmare.
Being short has it’s other daily trails and tribulations too.
I can’t reach most things on the top shelf at the supermarket. I have been known to put a set of kitchen tongs in my trolley, not to purchase them at the end, but just to use to assist me around the shop to retrieve high up items and then I put them back before I go to the checkout. Yes seriously I do that.
I can’t get trousers to fit me anywhere. Seriously, shops that say they stock ‘Petite’ trousers are lying. Even they are in need of a few inches being chopped off – I could make a snazzy pair of shorts out of the offcuts I suppose but I can’t even sew a button on, let alone fashion some shorts. A minor success I had was recently though was, I wanted a long black skirt, but couldn’t find one, so I tried on what should have been a mid-length one and it was just the job. Short arse win.
People say I should be grateful I look younger than I am, that it’s nice, but let me tell you, I find it a complete ball-ache.
I am just waiting for the day in the not so distant future that someone asks if my eldest is my boyfriend. It’ll happen people, I am just waiting for it in a few years time.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am off to google homes for sale in Hobbiton so I can be with people of my own kind where I can reach the top shelf in the supermarket and find trousers that fit. Oh, and you’re allowed to have hairy toes and legs there. Also a win…