Rita Howell Column

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Rita Howell

Desire for petite met with longing for elevation

Sherry, Sherry, Sherry.

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You don’t know what you’re asking.

I’m responding to your column (“You Get the Picture”) published last Friday. You said you wanted to be petite.

How many times have I climbed up on the bottom shelf at the grocery store so my little short arms could reach our preferred brand of cereal– oat flakes and almonds? Frosted Flakes, though located on a lower shelf, certainly more accessible, just won’t do.

Oh, to be tall, willowy, svelte like you.

You’re cut from the same mold as a fashion model. You’re who they design clothes for.

Sherry, you can’t image how many pairs of pants I’ve had to hem. I’m five feet tall. Even when I shop in the “petite” section, the pants are still dragging the floor. If I have a new pair of slacks and I need them in a hurry, I’ve been known to use duct tape for an instant alteration.

And don’t get me started on the capri trend. Sure, they look great on everyone else. But on me they come nearly to my ankles. The cute factor is lost.

You say you seldom need a stepladder. Don’t be bragging. I can’t reach the jelly in my kitchen cabinet, the rag basket in the laundry room, the suitcase in my closet. The chain that switches on the light in our ceiling fan is out of my reach. I’m forever lugging one of several stools around the house to help me reach whatever I’m after.

I’m blissfully unaware of the layers of dust atop our refrigerator. It’s uncharted territory for me.

In the summertime I have to climb on the armchair in the living room to turn the air conditioner up or down. Several times a day.

You say you were the tallest kid in your class when you were growing up?

I was the smallest.

You think anyone wanted me on their team for Red Rover? I was always the weakest link.

Basketball? Nobody picked Rita for their team.

When I was 25, waitresses were still asking if I wanted to order from the kids’ menu.

They don’t ask me that any more. I haven’t grown any taller, just dumpier.

I have to adjust every vehicle I drive, pulling the seat up as far as it will go. Sometimes I’ve resorted to hauling around a cushion to give me a little more elevation when I drive.

You think YOU need a fainting couch (that 19th century sofa Sherry purports to be useful to delicate Southern women who are in need of a place to recline after they’ve exerted themselves)?  

I’m the one who needs one. I’d pull it up right under the air conditioner and stand up on it to adjust the thermostat.

YOU get the picture?

Just hand me down my cereal, will you?

Sherry Hopkins, 5’ 9 1/2,” is an award-winning writer whose column appears in The Panolian on Fridays. Rita Howell, five-foot-nothing, wishes she wrote as well as Sherry.