Friday, May 30, 2008

Perceptions

I am a man of average height. I stand about 5' 10".

(For my non-American readers, that translates to 14 stone.)

(No, stop composing those barbed comments. I know that "stone" is a measurement of weight. And anybody fluent enough to understand both of the measurements I've given is no doubt shaking his/her head and saying "Blimey, dude, you've got to grow another 4.68 centimetres or you're gonna die!", or something similarly quaint and metric. I thank you for the kind thoughts, but there's no need to worry. Any minor perusal of the archives here will show that I'm losing my mind at an alarmingly fast rate, and since I'm such a fathead, that means I'll be down to 1.3 choenikes in no time flat.)

(That's an ancient Greek measurement, by the way. You're liable to learn something new every time you visit here, and usually it'll be something you'll have no earthly use for later. As for me, as soon as I write this shit, it is out of my mind forever. Life isn't fair, no.)

So, as I was saying before I so rudely interrupted myself, I'm about 5' 10", which is sort of average for a guy. When I show you who I'm descended from, however, you'll see the circuitous route my genes had to take to arrive at their averageness.

For instance...


The extremely tall gentleman in the picture above is my Dad, approximately age 17. You can see how he towers over my grandmother and his sister and two brothers. I inherited those genes from him.

Now, in order to even things out and make me the entirely average fellow I am today, I inherited other genes from my Mom's side of the family. Here is a picture of my great grandfather, from his time in the army during World War I. He is the amazingly short fellow on the right.


I have no idea how he got into the army. I had always assumed there were minimum height requirements, until I saw this photo.

And, finally, here is a picture of me.


As I say, I'm about 5' 10". MY WIFE, standing next to me, is close to 5' 1" (but not too close.) She's wearing heels here, I believe. In any case, I am a product of the loins of the two men pictured above, Mr. Tall Guy and Mr. Shrimpy. My body decided to split the difference, thus making me ill-suited for both basketball and being a jockey, either of which could have afforded me a better income than I now receive, so thanks a lot, nature.

(Not that I'm totally complaining, mind you. I inherited the tools of my current trade - my vocal cords, and my brains - from both sides of my family, too. It's just that sticking a ball in a hole or whipping a horse would seem to be an easier route to fame and fortune.)

And now, let me tell you something about life. It all depends on how you look at it. You might already know this, but it never hurts to be reminded of it. For instance, all three men in the photos above - Me, My Dad, My Great Granddad - are approximately the same height. The only difference - the thing that makes us all appear vastly different - are the people we're with.

My Dad looks taller because he's with small children and his relatively short mother. The Christmas Tree in the background helps with the illusion.

My Great Granddad appears much shorter than he is because he is standing with his friend who was 6' 7". The uniform, with its oddly-shaped pants, adds to the effect.

As for me, I appear normal because I'm standing with MY WIFE. Any time I'm not in her general vicinity, I appear quite insane.

I guess the lesson is to remember that the people you're always around, and whom you come into contact with throughout life, will contribute to how the world perceives you, so you should choose your companions carefully. You're stuck with your family, so you'll just have to make the best of that. Of course, they have to make the best of you, too, so it all evens out.

Finally, here is a joke I received just this morning, even as I was finishing this piece. It comes from my buddy, Dan, and it perfectly illustrates the problem with skewed perceptions. Enjoy, and I'll see you on Monday with either good news or bad news concerning the Celtics.

A man is flying in a hot air balloon and realizes he is lost. He reduces height, and then spots a man down below.

He lowers the balloon further and shouts, "Excuse me, can you tell me where I am?"

The man below says, "Yes. You're in a hot air balloon, hovering 30 feet above this field."

"You must work in Information Technology" says the balloonist.

"I do" replies the man. "How did you know?"

"Well" says the balloonist, "Everything you have told me is technically correct, but it's no use to anyone."

The man below says, "You must work in business."

"I do" replies the balloonist, "but how did you know?"

"Well," says the man, "You don't know where you are, or where you're going, but you expect me to be able to help. You're in the same position you were before we met, but now it's my fault."

18 comments:

lime said...

i love how you wove your typical madness together with some family history and a dash of wisdom to come up with something thought provoking and funny at the same time.

i have a kid who right now is having to make some choices about friends who are making really rotten choices. it's not the same as height but who we associate with and how does affect the perceptions people have of us.

at the same time i am wondering about the short and wide genes i have inherited. i need to find some really obese pygmies to stand next to so i look willowy and lean.

Sandra Ree said...

Love that first picture, brings back memories.

You and your wife make a lovely looking couple. She must be a saint. ;)

As for choosing your companions carefully... it's too bad people don't get that earlier in life, it seems you never learn life lessons until life is almost over you know?

Rooster said...

Never mind all that Sul, there a Celtics game on tonight!

Oh - you knew that?

Love that joke, especially because I used to be the guy on the ground - ha ha!

Suldog said...

From my Uncle Jim:

"That's a great photo. As I recall it was taken with a Brownie camera your dad received for Christmas. It had a built in flash. I also remember how beautiful the tree was, (Charlie Brown tree) when we got up. It was never decorated before Christmas morning. Pa always put the tree up and hung the lights, but Santa was the one that hung the decorations and tinsel and naturally put the presents underneath. We were poor as church mice, but as kids we never knew how poor. :)

The decorations were actually hung by your dad and Archie Niven - after midnight mass. I found out years later the doll carriage once belonged to either Dorothy or Patty. Pa repainted it and they bought a new doll for Loretta. What the Hell did we know, after all Santa did come. :)"

Thanks, Uncle Jim!

Pat - An Arkansas Stamper said...

Great heavens! You need to check your mental oil. I perceive you are running about 1 choenix low.

You're nuts! I love reading your posts!

Buck said...

I do SO love these old photos, Jim. And the prose that goes with 'em, too.

Good Luck to your Celtics!

Mushy said...

My dad was 5'11" and I'm 6'1"...or used to be!

My dad had brothers over 6'4" and mother's father was around 6...I'm an average too.

It wouldn't be so bad if I didn't weigh close to 250, but every August Jeff comes around to make me feel small again.

You probably love being around short people as much as I do tall ones!

Rich said...

Your WIFE must be a saint. hee hee

Chris Stone said...

Its Friday... game six... and no mention of the Celtics? You must be trying to pace yourself...

fun post!

Stu said...

"I am a product of the loins of the two men pictured above..."

Yeah. Not sure there's anything I can add to the above, it sorta stands up on it's own.

Kuanyin said...

Heh heh--your posts are always good for laughs! That joke rings true, so true!

Hilary said...

I love the way you illustrated perspective.. with wonderful old family photos, and your deep-rooted sense of humour. From which relative did you inherit your funny bone?

Shrinky said...

Brilliant! So true, we are judged by the people we surround ourselves with. Now, our resident bunch of bikers are taking us out for a slap up meal tonight - the restaurant owner still recalls these guys from their visit there last year..

Speaks volumes (cringe).

CapCity said...

u never cease to humor me, dear SulDog! now i know folk have a great perception of me cuz i keep great blog company! LOL! that joke was cute, too! ;-)

Chucka Stone Designs said...

Judgement sucks but man how it truly does exist in this world! Now see, my judgement was that your wife is actually tall based on your own height description. What a handsome couple :)

Anxiously awaiting the results since I have no clue who they even played let alone the score(s)

the blue state blogger said...

You can get the same effect by watching guys on a pro basketball court. The smallest guy on the floor is probably 6'4", but next to the 6'9"ers and 7'ers, he looks positively Rooneyesque out there.

Janet said...

I'm back, did you miss me? *snort* Even I couldn't say that with a straight face. This was a very interesting post. The Grand Illusion, indeed. My father was very tall and skinny and my mother is fairly short and would be a lot rounder if she didn't work very hard not to be. I'm an odd combination of the two, and not really in a good way.

Anonymous said...

Hey dude! I really appreciate what you’re posting here. Keep going that way.