“Five feet, three inches,” the medical assistant person noted.
“No, I’m five feet, four inches.”
“No, you’re five feet, three inches,” she insisted.
“No, no. I’m five feet, four inches.”
“You’re almost five feet, three-and-a-half inches.” Writing it down. She was writing it down on my chart. It was going on my permanent record.
“Well, can you please write down the half-inch, then?”
This had happened to me once before, when I was in L.A. and pregnant with Lilah. But then I assumed that all the extra weight was lowering me into the floor or something, and by the time I noticed that she had shaved a whole inch off my height, the Person With the Chart had already moved out of the room and I was way too large to chase her.
Now, here I was, on a whole other coast, with a whole other measuring tape stuck to the wall, facing another Person With a Chart who was telling me I was 5’3”. Well, possibly 5’3” and a half. I was short enough to begin with, and yet they felt no compunction about stealing somewhere between a half and a whole inch.
That night, I fumed to my husband. “Do you know she stole an entire inch from me? I don’t mind that she clearly added five pounds, but she stole an inch!”
The next week I ran into our pediatrician, whose office is in the same building. I warned her that the building was unstable as the foundation was sinking a full inch into the ground. Or at least half an inch.
And there it rested. I walked around as straight as I could, trying to make the most of the height I had left. I mean, it’s not like anyone around here is tall. My husband is 5’7”, for heaven’s sake.
“What? No, you’re not. You’re 5’7”.”
“No, I’m 5’8”. I just went to the doctor and they measured me.”
“You grew?” That seems patently unfair. Not only do men get distinguished as they get older, but they get taller?! “You stole my inch! They took it away from me and gave it to you.”
(The kids were sitting silently in the backseat watching their mother completely unravel, in case you were wondering where they were at this point.)
“I’ve always been 5’8”.”
“No, you haven’t.”
“Yes, I have.” He has not always been 5’8”. He was 5’7” when I met him. He’s clearly cheating.
“I’m sorry, but you’re three inches taller than me. Not five.” There. I had settled the matter. I could be 5’3½”, but J would need to be shorter, too.
Not three days later, I had to go back to the doctor to get my finger checked out. A different Person With a Chart took me back to the same measuring tape, because they need to know how tall I am to look at my finger. Here was my chance. I had to try.
“Last time I was here, they measured me at 5’3”. But I’m not. I’m 5’4”.”
She changed direction. “Let’s not measure you on that one. I don’t like that one.” Ah-ha! I knew there was something wrong with that tape. Like someone placed it half an inch too low on the wall, maybe? “Here, stand against this one. Make sure your heels are all the way against the wall.” I made sure. I waited, waited for the Judgment of the Chart. “Five feet, four inches,” she agreed.
“Can you, um, please make sure you change that on the chart?”