With size, idiocy is not always the rule.
Perhaps it’s the deep baritone voice. Maybe it’s the awkward progress through a world several sizes too small. I can not be sure why people equate height inversely with intelligence.
At 14 I was 6 foot, at 16 I was 6’5”, and now, age 26 I’m 6’8” 260 pounds. Sometimes even more difficult then finding pants and shoes, or remembering to duck, is the look I receive from people when they meet me for the first time. They look up at me with an expression reserved for kittens and infants; talking slow so I can understand them.
My parents moved to this country in 1976 from Britain. They never forced me to play basketball or Football. Neither of them understood either sport, and was just as happy when I split my time between Water polo and Mountain Biking. I was harassed by coaches in High School. I had been called a “Waste of Height” by a particularly irritating Teacher-Coach hybrid. Sports were fun, but not the most important thing by far. I thought it odd that the idea of me playing basketball gave people the feeling that all is right with the world.
“Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck was the first book I ever read that perpetuated the idea that size and stupidity are somehow wedded. A story about a man who did not understand his own size and strength did little to help me in high school.
It is not hard to discover that this supposed rule is not steadfast. Few people know that several of today’s sharper minds, sit on shoulders high above the average. Michael Crichton, the author of “Jurassic Park” is 6’9” tall. Tim Robbins, the Oscar winning actor is 6’5”.
Even history has been shamed. William Wallace, the legendary Scottish Warrior made famous by the film “Brave heart”, was 6’7”. Yet in the film he was played by a 5’10” Aussie; Mel Gibson.
Several times a day, thousands of times a year, I am asked if I play Basketball, immediately followed by the question “I bet you get tired of that question.” Yeah I do. So much so I had a T-shirt custom made with the phrase “I Hate Basketball” emblazoned across the front.
It did not really work as I had planned. I get the same questions, just phrased differently. “You don’t really hate basketball do you?” If someone walked into a room wearing a shirt that said “I hate George Bush” I doubt I would question his shirt. I would surmise that he probably is not happy with our president, not that this is the beginning of “Opposite Day”
When ever I see a gangly teen in the supermarket, skinny, clumsy and still growing, I wish good things for them. I want to give them advice and teach them lessons I have learned. Go get an extra gallon of milk for the cart. Nissan Pathfinders are your best bet for legroom. Tylenol will ease the growing pains, and most of all, you can do better then Basketball. It’s easy for a 6’8” 18 year old to get into college with a sports scholarship, why not try and do it with your i.q. rather then your jump shot.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.