Wednesday, May 09, 2007


I am, as anyone who has ever met me can attest, a big guy. I'm tall and not slender in the least. I'm pretty sure I give the impression that I could physically harm somebody although I've never thrown a punch in my life. Most of the time this works to my advantage. In fact, I'm pretty sure I've never had to throw a punch in my life is because I'm big. I think imposing might be the word I'm looking for here.

But being big has its costs. I like VW Beetles and Mini Coopers but I can never buy one. I like to sit on the aisle seat at movies so I can stretch my legs a bit. These are not tragedies. People assume I'm kind of dumb, even if only one persone, my roommate freshman year, has come out and said he thought I was dumb based on my appearance. That's also no tragedy. That's something I tend to use to my advantage.

But here's the other thing: I can scare people. Specifically women. Walking around, I'm always careful to keep my distance and act as unthreatening as possible. Most of the time it works. Sometimes it doesn't. Today, for instance, I was walking to my car behind a woman doing the same. It was broad daylight and there were other people around. Admittedly, the neighborhood our office is in can be a little sketchy. Maybe she'd had bad experiences before, I don't know. I was late, as usual, for picking Stevie up and for some reason this woman kept turning around to look at me as I drew closer. She looked slightly more panicked each time and even started to clutch her purse. Meanwhile, I figure the best way to deal with the situation is simply not to acknowledge it, make no eye contact, and just keep moving. I mean, what's the alternative? Say, "Hey, nice lady, I'm not going to hurt you." That's even creepier.

Why did the whole experience make me feel like I'd done something wrong? And would this have happened if I'd been, say seven inches closer to the ground?


Eric Grubbs said...

Here's my theory:

6'3" average body type with non-threatening facial expression calmly walking towards car in a neighborhood that's under massive reconstruction = not scary.

6'3" average body type with threatening facial expression/blank facial expression walking quickly towards car in a neighborhood that's under massive reconstruction = a little scary.

The moral to the story: it's not an issue of height.

Keith Phipps said...

It was more of a brisk walk, really. And my expression couldn't have been less threatening.

Maybe it was my "Kill 'Em All, Let God Sort 'Em Out" t-shirt and the skull with the number "13" tattooed on my forehead.

Eric Grubbs said...

. . . or maybe the orange paint in the office is really getting to you and this was all a dream.

Sean said...

I'm a tall and non-skinny person as well (6 foot 8 inches, 295 lbs) and I know what you mean. When I was in Europe, I developed a terrible case of Achilles tendinitis and spent most of my time in Italy limping. I hadn't shaved in months and my hair was greasy and about shoulder-length.

Needless to say, I didn't hold it against anyone who looked a bit scared when I limped near them.

As an aside - could you give me some hints on clothes? I'm not sure how tall you are, but any idea on good stores that carry nice big 'n tall clothing would be so greatly appreciated. Judging from your content at this blog and your contributions to the AV Club - and I could be jumping to some pretty heft conclusions here - I imagine you find that offerings at Big 'n Tall chains to be horrendous.


VoteJoe said...

Re. The Mini Cooper: Apparently, Penn Gillette bought two because they are extremely confortable for the long person.