What’s height got to do with it?

A few weeks after my husband and I had started dating, mutual acquaintances also coupled up. After running into them at a social gathering, my husband remarked that Jim and Patty “made for an odd looking couple,” because Jim was so much taller than Patty.

“What are you talking about?” I frowned. Patty was exactly my height, but Jim was several inches shorter than my husband. “There’s more of a height difference between us than there is between Jim and Patty.”

It must be my big personality, but my husband didn’t notice I was short until I told him.

He’s 6-foot-2; I’m 5-foot-1 and while he didn’t notice the height different then, it has had impact on our lives in small ways. We don’t dance well together (that we both have two left feet might play a role, but I’m going to blame it on our height). In one house we had built, my husband instructed the plumber to put the master bath showerhead high on the wall so he wouldn’t have to duck his head. The plumber did what he was told. The shower was so high on the wall, I couldn’t reach it. If I stood on my tiptoes and stretched, I could graze the edge of the showerhead with the tip of my middle finger. My advice would be if you and your partner are making big decisions with a bayswater plumber, come to a decision that you’re both on board with. We can agree to hang pictures “at eye level” but his eye level and my eye level are about a foot apart. My husband has bumped and gashed his head countless times. I almost never hit my head.

When I wrote for the lifestyle section of a suburban newspaper years ago, I did a story about the challenges facing people who were exceptionally tall. Did you know that the standard American doorway is 6 feet 8 inches? I didn’t. But the 6-foot-9 guy I interviewed did. I’ve never in my life had to duck to enter a doorway.

He was the tallest man I’d interviewed for the story. The tallest woman was 6-foot-2. And something she said stuck with me over the years. This strong, professional woman said she wanted the feeling of being cuddled, of being held, of being smaller than a man. But she was taller than the average guy, and with even modest heels, she’d top most of the tall ones too.

Stephanie Gordon, the heroine of my latest release Body Politics, is a diehard feminist. I made her tall so she would have an imposing presence.

But like the woman I interviewed, Stephanie longs for the feeling of being smaller than a man, but she won’t admit it.

Here’s the scene where she and Mark first meet:

She lifted her chin, and consternation flickered in her blue eyes. “You’re taller than I expected.” She studied the toes of her flat boots, then met his eyes again. She worried her kissable lower lip with her teeth, and his groin tightened.

At six feet six, he towered over most people, men included. He estimated her height at five ten. He liked a tall woman he didn’t fear crushing, wouldn’t lose in bed, who stood up to him. But he still topped her by several inches. He liked that too. “Don’t most women want a man to be taller?” he asked.

“Most do.” An unspoken but clung to the end of her answer.

“You don’t?” he asked and pulled out her chair.

Surprise flashed in her gaze at what was for him an automatic gesture, making him wonder what kind of men she’d dated in the past. Then she narrowed her eyes and hesitated. “Thank you,” she said, a hint of feminist resentment scoring her polite words. His lips twitched with humor. A woman needs a man the way a fish needs a bicycle. No doubt Stephanie would purport to ascribe to the 1970s feminist slogan. But only those who felt insecure erected a shield to protect themselves. Her emotions were easy to read.

She sat, and he assumed his seat, noticing a decrease in her shoulder tension now that they met eye to eye. That he unnerved her bespoke of her awareness of him. She was attracted but didn’t want to be. The gauntlet had been thrown. The only thing he enjoyed more than the company of a lovely woman was a lovely one who challenged him. He wanted to break through her defenses, put her at ease, then put her on edge.

“I’m not used to it.” She sniffed, revealing to Mark that she lorded her height over the males who orbited her. Yet she’d worn flats when heels would have given her a greater advantage.

Later in the date, Stephanie reflects on her impression of Mark and learns something about her self:

Sure, he’d said he supported women’s rights, but the way his aggressive gaze had staked a claim demonstrated he viewed women as objects, not equal partners. She’d caught his hostile, possessive expression when the men at the other table happened to glance in her direction.

Had she known what kind of man he was, she never would have gone out with him. She’d assumed she and Elizabeth shared similar values and that Elizabeth understood what she liked. She’d agreed to meet Mark because she’d trusted the other woman, and she was tired of her one-sided relationship with her vibrator. She wanted to talk, to laugh, and have sex. She sneaked a peek at Mark. Support me. Hold me. Protect me.

Where the hell had that come from?

Body Politics was released last week by Loose Id.

Amazon buy link ? Amazon UK Buy Link ? Loose Id Buy Link (all ebook formats)

Body Politics Blurb

Feminist Stephanie Gordon knows the instant she meets blind date Mark DeLuca it’s going to be a wasted evening. Sure the deputy chief of police is criminally sexy, but he’s arrogant, domineering and sexist. Thank goodness after the date ends, she’ll never have to see him again. A member of the Rod and Cane Society, an organization of men who discipline their women by spanking, Mark DeLuca is attracted to Stephanie like a paddle to a well-rounded ass. He sees beneath the shield of feminist militancy to the soft, sensitive woman she tries to hide. When she storms away in a snit, the chase is on. Can a man who spanks convince a diehard feminist her true strength lies in submission?

Body Politics contains feminist indignation, old-fashioned courtship, hot sex and plenty of spanking. The third book in the Rod and Cane Society series, it can be read as a stand-alone.


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11 Responses to What’s height got to do with it?

  1. Lovely post, Cara, as always. My friend is so much smaller than her husband (short and small-boned) that next to him she gets swallowed up in pictures. In real life, though, she is the one directing action. Once she’s moving and speaking and drawing attention, no one notices her height.

    Sound familiar? 😉

  2. Sue Lyndon says:

    I think one of the reasons I connected with Stephanie so well was because I was always the tall kid in class too…and like her, I always hated it, and I’m ashamed to admit a few times I didn’t see go on a second date with a guy because he was shorter than me and I couldn’t handle it. Amazing how height can play such an important part in our lives and relationships…

    • Cara Bristol says:

      I’ve read it also affects careers, that tall people are more likely to be hired than short ones. I do know a couple of women who don’t want the man to be (much) taller than them.

  3. Cara you always take real life experiences and weave them into your stories and blog posts. I love that!!! I always walk away from you blog with a new idea, or a new way of viewing things. Thank you.

    The very Bad Penny

    • Cara Bristol says:

      Thank you, Penny. I try to keep it interesting. I guess it all comes down to “write what you know.” In my previous career as a newspaper reporter, particularly when I worked for the lifestyle section, I met people from so many different walks of life. Such a broadening experience.

  4. minelle says:

    I love this. It is so true that a great many women love the pull of being smaller than a man, in a romantic way. I feel great when I feel smaller than my husband. lol, even if she was quite tall. I love how you wove that in the story. Most of the women in my family are below 5 ft 3 or 4 inches tall. My mom doesn’t crack 5 ft.

  5. Katerina says:

    I cannot tell you how much this post speaks to me! I am 5’11” and have always said how much I love standing near anyone who makes me feel petite. My husband is a few (or maybe just one and a half) inches taller than me, but shoes and such quickly use up that differential. When we lived in the city and would ride the escalator to the subway, I would always make him stand on the step higher than me so I could feel petite, even if it was just a few minutes. Our escalator hugs were the best in my opinion, because I was usually nestled into his chest. “Body Politcs” is on deck and now I am looking forward to it even more!!

    • Cara Bristol says:

      I understand how you feel about escalators, because for me it’s the opposite. When my husband and I are on stairs, I like when he is one step lower so then I can hug him at eye level.

  6. Interesting post Cara. I was always the tallest in the class, but it was ok with me. My son is 6’5″ and has been at least a head taller than his peers practically since birth. What I find interesting is the fact that people/strangers feel free to comment on it.
    “Wow. You’re tall. How tall are you?” Usually my son was ok with it, but not everyone wants to have attention drawn to themselves all the time.

    People would never (ok, I’m sure there are some who would) say to someone “Wow, You’re fat. What do you weigh? 275?”

    • Cara Bristol says:

      I am now height-weight proportionate. But as a child and teenager, I was very skinny. I weighed 80 pounds when I graduated high school. I can’t tell you how many times while growing up, I heard, “How come you’re so skinny?” I remember one kid in the fifth grade called me spaghetti arms (I laughed; it WAS creative). There are certain traits I guess people feel it’s okay to remark on. (I’m surprised by how many women will remark on the size of other women’s breasts — to their faces. If men did that…look out!).

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