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A Brief Word Of Woe From A Gentle Big Man


This summer we've been exploring what it means to be a man and that includes size.

VIET LE, BYLINE: I'm 5'6", 128 pounds - sure some might describe me as a short man or slender man, but still a man. At Target, I'm a boys large.

SHAPIRO: That's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED producer Viet Le who told us last week about the frustration of being size extra-small.


Well, we're committed to balance and for another view on size matters we don't have to look too far, just up, like, way up. Six foot eight inches up to big guy producer Gabe O'Connor.

O'CONNOR: Oh, I can just hear the dripping sarcasm now - poor Gabe, what a burden it must be to be tall. Hey everyone gather around and listen to the tall man complain about how hard it is to be able to reach everything - it sounds horrifying. And you know what, you're right to be skeptical because being tall is awesome. I would never want to be one of those puny 6'4" guys. But being 6'8" isn't the 24/7 pool party of talking unicorns and candy rainbows you might think it is. Take air travel - the next time you complain about how tight things are in coach, look across the aisle. I'll be the guy in the middle seat who hasn't been able to feel his lower legs since take off. Now there is one other thing, the extra small will always have over the extra tall - in a fight you wee people are kryptonite. Maybe gigantors or people like me, men who haven't been in a real fight since ninth grade, because, well, nobody picks on us. So we become gentle like manatees just floating out there in the water being big and eating whatever manatees eat. We're content, happy, except for that one stupid otter with a Nepolionic complex. I can't tell you how many times in my life I've been at a party or a bar and because young men are stupid one thing led to another and there it was - that moment just before a big fight breaks out, more often than not, the person instigating all this tension was a little guy. You know him, he's the one who's always been short and he knows that we know he's short and he's sensitive about it. It's this guy that invariably decides to pick a fight with the biggest guy in the room and that guy's always me. At first glance this makes no sense, why would the small guy want to do this? But his strategy's actually kind of brilliant. If I fought him and lost, I would never hear the end of it. If I fought him and won, I'm the big guy who beats up wee people. So what did I do most of the time? I smiled my goofy manatee smile and try to talk him down. If that didn't work I would hold him at bay with my really long arms and he would swing and miss with his short little arms and tiny little fists, yeah, it did look as funny as it sounds. Eventually one of his saner friends would pry him away but no matter the outcome, he could always say he took on the big guy. And yeah, I could say I was the bigger man but that's the only time I had wished I wasn't.

CORNISH: That's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED Producer Gabe O'Connor. Short or tall, stand proud and follow our series on Facebook and Twitter. That's right, the hashtag is #MenPR. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Gabe O'Connor
[Copyright 2024 NPR]
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