The eminent freestyle rapper-dancer Megan Thee Stallion and I are different in many ways. She is from Texas, I am from Georgia. Her middle name is Thee, whereas my middle initial is A. (For Alton.) She has a song out called “Sweetest Pie,” which includes the line “Toes curling like they’re throwing gang signs.” I have a book out called Save Room for Pie, which I doubt includes any line as provocative as that. And she can do things with her hips, and so on, that I can’t even dream of—I’ve tried, to dream of them.
Megan Thee Stallion was named by Time magazine as one of the one hundred most influential people in the world. I was not, and no wonder. Megan Thee Stallion is taller than I am.
Now she is.
She is listed, on Wikipedia, at five feet, ten inches.
And I, who since the tenth grade have thought of myself as “a full six feet”—without even needing to claim the extra half inch—went to the doctor for what was supposed to be a routine checkup the other day and stepped confidently up to the height scale and heard the doctor say, “A little over five nine.”
The doctor (who is himself I would say about five seven stretching it) chuckled. “That’s the thing that always bothers ’em,” he said.
’Em. That’s how he thinks of his patients, apparently. We are all short, shorter than we think we are, in his eyes.
I have shrunk. The doctor said. And it’s only natural. He said.
Oh, I know in my heart I could pull a solid five ten, if not ambushed by a medical professional. The doctor appointment was at 2:30 p.m., when I am not at my apogee. Ideally, at that time, I am napping.
But I used to be tall all day. Fairly tall. No, I never quite caught up with my father, Big Roy, who was six one and a half. He didn’t live to be my age, so maybe he never started to shrink. Though maybe if we had done a height-off when he was sixty and I was thirty-two…
We wouldn’t have done anything that physical, though, anyway.
William Faulkner was only five foot five, and that was no doubt stretching it, tall-teller that he was. Truman Capote was five three. Mark Twain, five nine. Edgar Allan Poe, five eight. Martin Luther King, five seven or so. Eudora Welty’s height, according to the only internet site that addresses the matter at all, is “not available at this time.”
Victor Hugo is listed as five ten on celebsagewiki.com, which doesn’t even hazard a guess as to how tall, or even how heavy, I am:
“We will update Roy Blount Jr.’s Height, weight, Body Measurements, Eye Color, Hair Color, Shoe and Dress size soon as possible.”
No rush. As a matter of fact, my shoe size has grown over the years—stature settling down into my feet, no doubt. It would not be thoughtful to send me shoes, or dresses, that I couldn’t try on first. Chances are, celebsagewiki.com would be way off on my measurements, considering its assessment of my family status:
“He is currently single. [Wrong.] He is not dating anyone. [Right.] We don’t have much information about He’s [sic] past relationship and any previous engaged. According to our Database, He has no children.” According to my database, I have two, and have had them for over half a century. Not long ago I was pleased to observe that my son, who has been taller than me since his teens, was still growing. Because…standing next to him…now I know.
A Southern man expects himself to be tall. Andrew Jackson was six one, Thomas Wolfe was—I don’t know, I don’t want to Google every damned thing—huge. Of the ten tallest U.S. presidents, seven (LBJ, Jefferson, Clinton, Washington, among others) were Southern. Jimmy Carter is down the list, but at his peak he could have stood eye to eye with Megan Thee Stallion, if she would hold still. Robert E. Lee was around five eleven, five ten and a half—two or three inches taller than Ulysses S. Grant. Most of Lee’s size was upper body (whereas Megan Thee Stallion is robust all over), so Lee looked disproportionately tall on a horse.
Not that I want to be Robert E. Lee. I wrote a book about him, which is something Megan Thee Stallion can’t claim, but that doesn’t make me a fanboy. I’m taller than Robert E. Lee. Used to be.
I have lost three inches? Why didn’t anybody stop me?