Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Plight of the Short Man

Having spent every breath of my existence as a man of below average height, I'm well positioned to give a macro view of being micro. It is a tough life, and the worst part is that it is the one cosmetic defect no one has sympathy for.

You think fat people have it worse. Think again. Fat people have a buffet of folks taking up their cause. Books, magazines, support groups, after school specials, and all the daytime talk shows are constantly drawing attention to the way society treats the larden; especially those “big girls.” In school we had it drilled in our heads: "Don't make fun of big girls, or they'll end up with eating disorders!" I don't recall many counselors warning: "Make fun of short men, and we'll have a society full of Mustangs with 20-foot spoilers!”

Fat women do have it very rough. Slim chicks are worshipped in every way imaginable. Free drinks, undeserved job promotions, and lucrative scam marriages are just a few of the perks of being a size zero. And without a doubt, the fat chick zinger is a constant in our national chatter.

However, because any woman of any shape can always walk into any bar in the world at any hour and find a suitor, large women still have plenty of options (at least relative to short men). A sizable portion of males even prefer big women, so if the large lass lands a guy craving "more to love," she can eat her cake and be shaped like it too.

[Note there is no equivalent term of affection for short men. We aren't said to have "less to hate."]

What about fat men? While it might not be a picnic to be a fat gent, they are at least assumed to be jolly. This is why fat guys get to play Santa Claus; the bringer of joy to children everywhere. Meanwhile short men are left to play the tragic, wandering elves.

When it comes to judging appearance, one of society's quirks is the nonchalance with which women are free to admit they find short men unappealing. Consider how many commercials, magazine articles, and sitcom episodes you have seen unapologetically articulate the notion of women dismissing short men. If I'd grown a millimeter for every slam of this kind, I’d be chronicling the perils of being 40-feet tall.

[Note how the media is harangued for "making women hate their bodies" and compare it to the silence about the media's bluntly negative take on short men.]

It isn’t just isolated to the media. Repeatedly I have had women I'd known for all of ten minutes casually volunteer that they would never go for a short man…without my soliciting their opinion on the subject. A few even used me as an example, as in, "I would never date a short guy. You know, someone like you."

These weren't women I was trying to pick up. They were strangers I just happened to be around. Apparently, they assumed their total lack of interest in short men was essential to introductory conversation.

NOW...just imagine if I were sitting at a table with a big girl I had just met, and I said I found fat women less than luscious while using the big girl as a king-sized prop…the room would freeze and everyone within a 50-mile radius would despise me for the rest of my life. A few schemers would even use my comment as a opportunity to hook up. "Can you believe that guy? What year is it? Guys like him make me embarrassed to be a man. Did I mention I drive a hybrid? Sure it has a backseat..."

But when a short guy is the target, not only does no one notice, but if the short man protests even slightly, he gets bashed for not being a "good sport.” "Where's your sense of humor?" the hypocrites chant. Predictably, they always end up claiming the short man's supposed inability to laugh at himself is symptomatic of his lack of height.

The reasons chicks don't dig short men aren't cryptic. It is more nature than nurture, and has to do with concern about the next generation. The pomp and circumstance of courtship is just a scenic route towards potential reproduction, and no woman wants short kids. This means that at 5'5", I have to undo 200,000 years of evolutionary training to ignite her loins. For those wondering why I look so tired after dates, there’s your answer.

So what is a 5'5" bloke to do? Do I target women hovering around the 5'0" mark? Not unless I want to be a monk the rest of my life. Really short women are even more conscious of height, because they know if they don't breed with some Paul Bunyan clone they're bound to crank out a litter of hobbits.

That is why I defer to Payne's Law. Payne's Law posits that there is an exact correlation between how many inches below 5'8" you are and how many inches above 5'0" your potential woman may be. Example: A 5'7" man can prowl for women as short as 5'1".

Being 5'5", this limits me to the 5'5"-5'3" range, and let me tell ya, there ain't exactly a bounty out there. My best hope is with women exactly my height, and if I am wearing a sharkskin suit with a dry martini sewn into the pocket, I can maybe pull a girl as short as 5' 3". But once a woman dips into the 5'2" range, I am magically transformed into the Accidental Celibate. Charming and virile though I am, one look at my stature and her womb starts running filmstrips of her offspring getting tossed in lockers.

This is yet another area where the fat man has it over the short man. A petite chick will take a fat tall guy over an athletic short guy 365 days a year. Sure the sultan of sweat isn't her ideal choice, but she will settle for him. Besides, if she's homely enough, she is going to have limited choices anyway. And because women's rules about weight aren't as stringent as their rules about height, a woman will go for someone fatter than she, but almost never someone shorter. She will stay single first. She will have plump kids before short ones. So the short man can spend 6 days a week at the gym and still lose out to the 6' 2" chap who spends Monday through Friday giving the ice cream man post-traumatic stress disorder.

This means the short man cannot even rely on his female counterpart for companionship. The short girls he has no choice but to chase want to get as far from him as their stubby legs will take them. Again, the edge goes to the overweight. When the going gets tough, plus sized people can always fall back on each other. A desperate obese man can usually at least link up with a similarly obese woman (and vice versa). An obese tall man may even be fortunate enough to pull a petite chick. Likewise, the big girl may be able to pull a normal guy, provided her target has the appropriate fat fetish.

Are you feeling the plight of the SBM (small beautiful man) yet? Fat women have decent options. Short women have lots of options. Fat men have, well, options. Only the short man is excluded from this love rectangle.

But somehow, fat people are the ones mourned by society as victims of cosmetic circumstance. Allow me to point out the 800 lb. human in the room by reminding everyone that being fat and being short aren't even comparable physiologically, because fat people can at least do something about their weight. They can diet. They can exercise. They can even have their stomach stapled. They might not become thin, but they can at least slim down. But there is no remedy for being underheight. You can't comb over a foot of skeleton from another part of your body. Your freakdom is a life sentence. The only doctor that can help a short man is Kevorkian.

Use your microscope to find me on Twitter:!/greatMikePayne

Friday, April 1, 2011

Playing to the Back of the Odds

Recently I tried explaining to a non-comic why comedy is such an irrational, unsatisfying pursuit. Making it to a respectable level in comedy is about as probable as winning the lottery. Now, think of the kind of people you see playing the lottery regularly; babbling, unclean, unhinged freaks you would never want to spend time with. Now give that guy a scuffed up psyche and a need to "get back" at some girl or high school clique that rejected him and you have a portrait of most comics.

Would you want to spend time in a cramped green room with such duds? Worse yet, would you want to watch duds like that pass you in the business? The madness of it ends up tipping the few sane comics toward insanity.

Society mocks lotto regulars (the odds usually crush you), society condemns gamblers (the odds usually crush you), but society applauds people who pursue a dream in the arts, where the odds usually crush you. Something is wrong with this picture.

You're going to ask why I keep doing it, so I'll answer: because breaking up with comedy is hard to do.