Thursday, April 26, 2012

Size is in the eye of the beholder

Something is going around up here and made a stop here at Gasthaus von Erroneous over the weekend. Thus laying me up starting Friday evening through Tuesday with fever and other side effects, mostly undesirable in the extreme. Illness is something I normally do not partake of, this weekend reminding me of why.

Whilst ensconced in the position of woe - laid up on the couch in front of the HDTV with cable, the DVR, and the remote, I was able to partake of some sorely missed viewing. More or less. The sad part is that I really was sick and feverish, so it was in large parts drifting in and out of sleep in front of an NCIS marathon.

Except on Sunday, Earthday. CinC Home has Frozen Planet set to record and it's set to use Tuner 1, meaning whatever is being recorded is what you view live. Changing away from that cancels the recording. FiOS it ain't. And on Earthday they had a Frozen Planet Marathon. The polar bears on the ice weren't the only ones drifting Sunday afternoon.

So, I'm laying there catching up on this weeks episode of Bones. It's about a guy with a terminal case of Short Man's Syndrome. In his case, it ends up being terminal. He lets it define his life, every aspect of it, from how he relates to his wife (won't discuss things with her, not manly) to his son's life (makes him take karate so he won't be beaten up in school for his size). He has his head handed to him when trying to rough up the sensei's daughter (by said daughter), that incident having been filmed and posted online and going viral. His life gets worse as the entire bar laughs at him about it and it results in his death at the hands of a much larger bully, precipitated by his insecurities.

I don't have this problem. I've traditionally been 6'4" though I'm now down to 6'3" and a little over 200. This is not an issue I've faced nor can readily imagine. To me, most of the world is shorter than I, so I don't see it. Despite that, I don't see the world as midgets. I don't immediately think, "I'm taller than he is". It's not relevant to me, it just doesn't occur to me.

I have a good friend of over 30 years who is not my size. Jerry is physically unimposing, from a distance, if you don't know him. True, he's not tall, honestly, I have no idea how tall he is or isn't. It's never occurred to me to ask.

He just doesn't seem his true height to me.

As old Army buddies do, we can go years without seeing each other. During this interlude, I forget about his true size, I think of him as Jerry, much larger in character than physical size. Consequently, I am always surprised when we see each other again how much smaller he seems physically than I remember him. I never envision him his true, physical size. That just isn't him.

Jerry's physical size does not define him. I don't know that it ever did. I can't see him ever letting something that insignificant define him, he defines himself. I have seen him explain to others, worried about their physical stature to quit complaining when they are taller than him. While others may let their physical size affect their lives, like the character in the show did, and ruin their lives, Jerry has not. Jerry's joi de vivre is infectious. He loves life and lives it like those that know it is not a given live their lives. He's a man of God, he's a husband, he's a father, he's a funny, good guy. And he's my friend.

He is who he is and he walks through life just like I or anyone else. He defines his life, not his circumstances.

A couple from our wedding, still friends who are similarly blessed without the burden of being overly tall. They are both similar to Jerry, I don't remember them as their true size until we get together again. Then I am reminded that their true, physical size is not their "real size" as I always think of them. That aspect of their lives does not define them and their world, they define it by their force of character and the way that they live.

All three of them do, however, walk in my lee for to enjoy the goodly shade and windbreak thereof. A fact that took me years to become aware of.

What are friends for?

And so, I felt sorry for the character that his life, and ultimately his death, were defined by limitations that he imposed upon himself. It's too bad he never met Jerry or my other friends to learn how good life can be. It's too bad that he insisted that his actual size had to be so limiting and defining.

And Sunday night I climbed into bed, fully bundled up with flannel jammies. And socks. And flannel sheets. And blankets.

I climbed into my normally warm, northern New England bed. And shivered.

My wife regards me as a wondrous generator of BTUs during the colder months. I throw off heat like a brand new paratrooper losing singles in a strip club. Can't seem to shed them fast enough.

Something she finds useful on sub-zero nights up here in Northern Vermont.

But not Sunday evening. I lay there shivering in my fever despite my nice, warm bed.

My normal routine is to climb into bed and lay down on my back. Shortly thereafter, Kaylie, one of our cats, comes in to join me. I lift the covers with my right arm allowing her to walk down my side, turn around at my hip, then walk back up to my arm. She lays her head on my arm, then lies down next to me. I lower my arm over her, tucking the covers in around her neck. She rolls into me and we both drift off to sleep.

Kaylie is about 13 now and her bones prefer my warmth, so she rolls into my nice, warm body and is able to sleep warm and comfortable. Sunday night when Kaylie rolled into me, that was just the extra heat that I needed. Once I felt the body heat from all twelve pounds of her up against my 200, I warmed up and fell asleep.

That little old cat, who normally finds me her soothing source of heat on cold days and nights, provided me the warmth and comfort that I needed on Sunday night in my feverish state.

Sunday night, my "little buddy" was big enough for me when I needed her.

marcus erroneous


  1. So sorry you've had the spring crud! That said, this was all so beautifully written.

    And I refer to The Oracle at "BTU Boy" cuz he is a blast furnace. Even in the bitterest cold we don't need many blankets because I can count on him to more than make up for it.

  2. Hope you're feeling better Marcus. Nice post. And the cat, I get that. We have two who literally "own" us, not the other way around. We spoil them terribly. Because they deserve it.

    1. As my daughter once pointed out: dogs have owners, cats have staff. We inherited Kaylie from our daughter when she left for the university. By the time she graduated and could take her back, it was too late. Kaylie has been with us her whole life anyway, so it works. She and her sister keep the mouse gene pool very shallow. :D

      Tonight being a cold night, she's lying in front of the cat warmer now.


  3. I've been out of town for the past three weeks. I'm just catching up, so I'm assuming (hoping) you are better by now.

    This height thing... that is an issue in our family. Not with me. I'm 5'2 and think nothing of it. I'll go toe to toe with anyone, regardless of size. I don't think of myself as short nor does anyone else.

    But my eldest son... was told this last summer he will probably not be much taller than he is. He is 5'3". It has had a devastating impact on him. I got us in therapy immediately, but this is something HE has to work through. I am a bit horrified that he would allow something so insignificant to define him, but he very well may. That is his choice. As my Mother so aptly put, 'God handed him something he doesn't want." It is up to him to decide how to handle it.

    I'm hoping his 17 year old attitudes will change. Meanwhile, his brother, next one down from him, told me once, 'My height has never bothered me. I know I'm smarter and faster than everyone else..."

    His older brother doesn't share that though. He has already decided he won't date, for then you might marry, and if you marry, then you have children and he will not pass on this genetic mutation to anyone else.

    I just listen. Time will tell... to him it is like inheriting a gene for cancer.

    1. Mine has learned to deal with it. It took him some time, I suspect the same will happen with yours.

      It comes with some benefits. You can't fly most of the fighters if you're too tall (me). Same with Space travel and submarines. I suspect that some of the SEAL delivery vehicles fall in the same category.

      At this age, they're still learning to deal with so many things when they don't even know what shirt they want to wear to school. It'll just take time, which is hard for us to watch and wait through. We want to fast forward to the decision to see if we need to do something else to help.


  4. I have hope. He would be very good in the military. He has a good tactical mind, amazing eye hand coordination, thinks well on his feet and keeps his mouth shut. We talk about it... so he knows it's an option.

    When we found out the news, it was literally a hide the guns and knived moment. We have moved past that... fortunately.

    He has frickin' BEAUTIFUL girls ask him out. He'll go to prom... but there is never a 2nd date.