[Admin Note: Today we hand over the carpet to VSB commenter, Dara Mathis. Be nice, and enjoy!]
The first and last time I almost punched a white woman, she had it coming. (I know that 99.9% of black women can beat me up, which is why I specified the race. There would’ve been no punch attempts on a Michelle Obama).
(PJ Note: Okay, I’ve got one comment…that opening line was everything. If this blogging thing doesn’t work out, she should consider writing a book and starting it with that line. It has to be used somewhere; an album cover, a bar mitzvah program, old Civl Rights literature. El fin.)
I was taking my final tour as a grad student through my university’s book store, when the store manager stopped in front of me. I was almost 25 and she was fairly middle aged, dressed in an appropriately old lady suit with a skirt. She proceeded to lose her mind. Maybe it was the backpack slung over my shoulder or the lack of makeup on my face. Either way, something foolish possessed this woman.
She crouched before me with her hands on her knees, until her face leveled with mine, as if she were my first-grade teacher. A molasses smile spread across her face and she drawled, “Can I help you with something, dear?” (Why yes, ma’am, you can help me with deez nuts!) I had not asked her for assistance or even glanced in her direction.
I told her no. Punching a university employee might put my graduation at risk, so I held back. Most students on campus were adults. She had no reason to think I was a child or treat me like one. But I knew why she insulted me like that; I’m 4’10” and I’ve been shortchanged on respect my entire life.
Ignorant as she was, it is only a drop in the bucket of ridiculous behavior I’ve witnessed. Short people (especially black ones) are supposed to be witty to fend off jokes that are not really jokes. I’m no Kevin Hart. So I have mastered my fake laugh, but still give people the benefit of the doubt. I like to think that folk forget how to treat short adults because they have no home training. My mama gave me plenty, though; consider this my each one teach one. If you’re looking to date, wife, cuff, befriend, or not get shot by chill with a short ninja, here are a few ground rules.
- Do not pick up and carry/body slam/tickle a short person. Don’t do it! They don’t care if you can bench press them (yes, someone actually said this to me), and they don’t need a demonstration. Bruh, if you want to show me how strong you are, help me move my living room furniture around, so I know it’s real. It impresses no one when you pick up humans the size of a 9-year-old and strut. And you might get assaulted once you put them down. It’s not safe.
- Shorty or Shawty is not the default short girl’s name. Non-negotiable. You are far dumber than you think you are if that double entendre makes you feel clever.
- Make no assumptions about their bedroom prowess, like: “Oh, I don’t date short girls because their box can’t take all this,” or, “Short guys can’t handle all this donkey. You need to be 6-feet-and-taller to ride.” First off, whenever someone refers to their body parts as “all this,” it’s seldom “all that” anyway. Second, the horizontal hustle does not come with height requirements. Vag to height correlation is a myth. People of all sizes, can, um, get it in.
- “You mad low to the ground” will not work as a pick up line on short women. Nor will any other insult compliment about being short. Conversely, for short men, telling women that you’re long where it counts only makes it sound like you have a Napoleonic penis complex. Approach like you’re not height-conscious and it won’t force others respond in kind.
- Stop treating shortness like a disease. It’s cool if you prefer not to date short people. But the sound effect “Ugh!” preceding “I don’t date short ninjas” implies that there is a value deficiency in being short. There isn’t, by the way. Short ninjas deserve respect, too, even if you’re too tall to see them from up there.
- If you live with a short ninja, let them keep their dignity and wait until they ask you for help. My husband is 6’2” and has a “three strikes” rule before he reaches over my head and hands me the plate I was jumping for. But he lets me try and I appreciate that.
- And finally, never ever, ever, ever crouch down (hands on your knees) and tell a short person “get on my level,” or some other condescending bull better left repeated 50 times on a Trillville song. Trust me.
Following the above instructions may or may not snag you the short ninja of your dreams. But it’ll certainly save you the embarrassment of being coldcocked by someone who is the legal height of a Little Person. Govern yourselves accordingly.
Dara Tafakari Mathis is a freelance editor who secretly counts the dots in your ellipses to make sure there are only three. She writes about life, race & culture, and nerd activities on her blog daratmathis.wordpress.com. You can tweet her @dtafakari.