Recently at a show at the Comic Strip in New York, I walked on stage and noticed a women immediately whisper something about me to her friend. I could tell the whisper included me because she did it right as I got on stage and was looking at me as she shared her secret. Audiences grossly underestimate how much the person on stage is aware of. I can do 45 minutes and, without talking to anyone in the crowd, tell you who’s on a first date, who else got beat up by a girl in 8th grade and who’s shorting their friends on the bill.
Sometimes I let things go other times I inquire as their may be comedy gold in ‘dem there whispers. I surprised the ladies when the first thing out of my mouth was “what were you guys talking about?” When she said, “oh nothing!”, a little too fast, I knew it was something a little embarrassing thus a humor extraction was called for.
Perhaps I should have let that sleeping dog lie. Instead I poked it with stick of persistence. I wanted in on their secret. Did she think I was cute? Maybe she always wanted her boyfriend to sport a goatee like mine. Maybe she thought I would be a great subject for her naked portrait class.
Turns out they were a mother daughter team from The Netherlands. And “the what” mom had whispered to the daughter as I got on stage was “Wow, they are short over here!” Comedy gold with me as the butt. The guy before me was sub 5’8” so yes I would classify him as short. But I’m 5’10” and while I’ve never been accused of being a giant (well once in Papa New Guinea), I’ve never been called short. The average height of a Netherlander man is 6’1”, tallest in the world.*
5’10” used to be exactly the average height of U.S. men. So I’ve always been too dignified to mention that I’m really 5’10 and 3/4”. I’ve also been too cool to mention that I play basketball like someone who’s 6’2”. And that’s not even a skill thing. I have a long wing span. My outstretched arms are equal in length to a person who’s 6’2”. Besides, If I wear shows I’m basically 6 feet even.
I guess subconsciously I knew I’d have to break out my short guy excuses one day. Why would I have them cued up at the ready if I didn’t? I was hoping that day would come later. I blame all this on steroids in the food. Next time someone says “oh nothing”, I might just let it go.
*The average height of a Netherlands man in 1850 was 5’4”