Thursday, December 6, 2012

Rant #859: Tall Tale

I read yesterday that the world's tallest woman passed away at age 39.

Her name was Yao Defen, she lived in China, and she was not only the world's tallest woman, she was one of the world's tallest people, period.

She was 7 feet, 7 inches tall.

According to reports, she suffered from gigantism, which can stretch limbs and other parts of the human body to almost unimaginable lengths.

And in some cases it can be deadly.

She played basketball at one time, of course, but Yao Ming evidently had nothing to worry about.

Defen was not happy with her size, often wondering why she was burdened by this curse.

I am sure that along with the height, other normal body functions that we take for granted didn't work right for her.

For one, I am sure the burden her heart could bare was increased by her size. A human heart really isn't made to support such a skeleton.

And like most very tall people, she probably had leg and foot problems.

I am sure she had to get her clothes custom made for her.

And socially, she was probably something of an outcast.

But she seemed to be a smart woman who was not comfortable with her body, her features, and her challenges, and probably all the people that stared at her because of her huge height.

I am 5 feet, 9 inches tall. That's pretty normal for the American male, I would say. 

I think the average height for the American male is 5 feet, 8 inches, so I guess I am slightly above normal height.

I just can't imagine someone as tall as she was. Put us side by side, and she was like half a person taller than I am.

I do feel sorry for people who have such a burden. 

They get stared at from the get go, and if they are not athletic, what do they do with their lives?

I remember in my old neighborhood of Rochdale Village in Jamaica, Queens, there was a guy who lived in the building across the street. 

There were a lot of rumors about him, but the fact of the matter was that as a little kid, this guy was absolutely enormous.

He must have been 6 feet, nine inches or thereabouts, maybe even a bit taller, give a few inches, and to us little kids, he looked like a giant.

We mocked him, we stared at him, we yelled things at him.

We did it because we were scared of him because of his height.

We weren't very nice to him, and there were other rumors about him that I won't get into now that added to our behavior toward him.

I always wondered about that guy. I know he didn't take kindly to our taunts, and would yell back at us.

But if you aren't a world famous basketball player, it must be difficult to live in a world where most people are at least a foot shorter than you are.

Defen was like two feet taller than her peers, if not more, and she must have had a very difficult life.

So here's to her, and all the other people in the world who have to bear the burden of enormous height.

And that's the long and short of it for today.

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