Department of tall studies

Finally, we get our due.

This takes my thoughts off in two unrelated directions. First, it reminds me of someone . . . I can't remember who . . . telling me that he'd just seen a bakery in New York titled "Bonjour Croissant", which had encouraged him to consider migrating to Paris and opening a diner called "Hello, toast!". I wish I could remember who it was . . . but I do remember that it came in response to the cunning bit of Franglais titling I had just espied, a (mercifully short-lived) restaurant on the Upper West Side called, I kid you not, "Avec un Petit Buerre". We talk a lot in this country about compulsory licensing of guns, but it seems to me that we might better focus on preventing the abuse of French-English dictionaries.

On a completely unrelated note, last night I was talking to a friend who is himself 6'4 or 6'5, who was nonetheless surprised to hear that for a woman, hitting 6'2 at the age of 11 kind of, well, sucks. I'd just read a story about human growth hormone treatments for short kids, which in passing alleged that 1/3 of the parents of very tall girls (5'11 expected height or higher) are offered estrogen to stunt their growth. He found this shocking. I found it shocking, but understandable. After all, it's such hell to be a tall girl.

"Really," said he, as if it were an immensely surprising revelation.

My first instinct was to ask what planet he had grown up on, but others seemed to share his surprise. I suppose I had thought that the drawbacks were obvious--particularly when I was growing up, when tall girls had a choice between wearing men's clothing, or looking as if they'd suddenly outgrown everything they were wearing. All the tall women I know slouch ferociously, and I'm told that we're much more prone to eating disorders--hardly surprising, given the nicknames that kids apply to tall, heavy girls. Not that "Beanstalk" and "Mosquito" were huge improvements. And I have only recently come to terms with the fact that for the rest of my life, no matter how I dress or how long I wear my hair, someone will call me "Sir" at least once a week.

Now I like being tall. But then . . . spending six years as the tallest person in her school is not a fate I would gladly wish on anyone, particularly not the person I loved most in the world. The thing seems so obvious to me that I still find it hard to believe that it wasn't equally obvious to everyone else. The private hells of adolescence are surprisingly private.