I am five feet five inches tall.
Actually, I’d always believed that I was five feet five-and-a-half until HOTDOG (they’ve been in touch, they’ll be back to see me again soon) cut me down to size, but the point is that I’m not the tallest person on the planet.
I have never been selected for the second-row of the Irish rugby team, never forged a career in basketball (though in fairness, most days I can’t hit a waste-paper basket at ground level from two feet, so my height may not have been the only issue here) and would not be on the short-list (sorry about that) if any film-maker was casting for the role of Goliath.
(Goliath was, of course, defeated by the much smaller David, but I think people miss the point here. David did not beat him at unarmed combat, he hit him from distance using a catapult, the biblical equivalent of a sniper rifle).
Let’s face it. I am short.
And I do face it. I don’t mind being called short, or small, or titchy, or a short-arse (though I don’t see the sense of that last one, there’s nothing short about my actual arse, it’s just not very far off the ground).
What I am not is Vertically Challenged.
I have a couple of issues with this phrase. The second word implies that Verticality has thrown down the gauntlet to me, or slapped me across the face with a glove (he wouldn’t have done that if I’d been bigger), and that I could in fact be taller if only I’d choose to meet this challenge.
How I might do this is unclear. What works with plants (standing them in soil and watering that soil regularly) would mean that I’d drown by osmosis. Swinging out of a bar will simply give me arms that trail along the ground. Stretching myself upon a rack would surely stretch only my arms (again) and my legs, so that I would end up looking like a stilt-walker, with arms that trail along the ground.
The optical illusion employed in the 1970s, that of massive platform shoes, is a phase of my life that I do not look back upon with sartorial pride.
The other problem that I have with the euphemism is that it’s saying “ok, he’s really short, but let’s not mention that, in case he hasn’t noticed”.
What it is effectively saying is that not only am I short, but I am thick as well.