Word count 1394
Duke and Gary, actuaries for a large Portland insurance company, were having lunch together. As usual they were complaining about their treatment as short guys. Duke started off with “You know we are usually ignored and stats prove that we get paid less and don’t get the promotions we deserve. Studies which have been corrected to take account of all other variables show that.”
“I know that Duke. We’ve been whining about that for years. At least you’ve got a great wife. I have a hard time getting a date, much less laid or married. How did you attract a great gal like Sally?”
“You aren’t the first or the tenth to ask me that. Sally has a strange history which made her avoid tall or even average guys. Everybody else in her family is over 6’ tall, even the women, and she is only 5’3”. I think that her 6’3” father wondered if he was really her father and always called her runt. Then there was the time at the circus where the so called tallest man in the world had a heart attack and almost fell on her. In high school, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar came to give a talk on education. Sally was to present him to the student body, but he suffered from food poisoning and vomited on her. After that, she would only date short guys like me.”
“I wish I could find a girl like that.”
“The odds aren’t great. I think that 1 in 565 women prefer short guys.”
“Did you get that out of ‘Popular Demography’?”
“Yup. My go-to mag for useful info.”
They fall silent and pensive while eating their respective lunches. Afterwards, Gary said “I’m sick of this talk. It’s time to act.”
“So what do we do?”
“Use other oppressed groups as models. There is the NAACP, Italian and Jewish anti defamation leagues. Even fat people have a group. Let me check on my phone. I got it, it’s NAAFA.”
“Fat chicks are gross.”
“I hear you brother. Brrr.”
“OK, we start small. Heh-heh. We’ll post a notice on the company bulletin board.”
The next day the note “Organizing short guys – meet after work in the Tilikum Room at 5:30” was posted.
Because it was Gary’s idea, he set the agenda and ran the meeting.
“Is there anyone who hasn’t been discriminated against because of his height? If so, you can leave now.”
No one left.
“Now that has been taken care of, how do we define short guys?”
After a lot of chatter, Gary said “I think I’m hearing a consensus of 5” to 5”6’. Does everybody agree?”
Jack said “Under 5’ is short.”
“Yes, but little people have their own group. I don’t want to step on their little toes.” Some laughed and some groaned.
Carmine said, “You going to leave me out? I’m 5’7””
“Good point. I gotta take them out before bed when I get lucky. I’m in, the lifts can go.”
“Now we know who we are. What do we do about it? I’ve got some ideas, but what do you think?”
Joe spoke up “Let’s document our discrimination and then talk to the press and the politicians.”
“Good idea. What else? Duke?”
“You were probably getting to this, but just in case you weren’t, the most important thing is a good acronym.”
“Holy crap, I totally forgot that!”
Somebody in the audience said “Short Humans Owed Respect Today”.
“I like it, but do we want short women in the group?”
Somebody else said “Nah, I asked a 5’2” gal to a dance in high school and she said that she only went out with six footers. Screw them – if only.”
Back to Gary “Ok, but what can we use in place of ‘human’?”
Jack suggests “How about ‘hombre’? Maybe we’d get a lot of Latino support. After all, a lot of them with Indio blood are pretty short.”
“That sounds good, but we should be able to do better.”
An hour later they had not done better and voted to go with Short Hombres Owed Respect Today – SHORT.
“Joe, you had the idea about documentation and propaganda. I know that Duke is on top of the facts for our movement. Do you have political and / or newspaper contacts?”
“I do indeed. I’m a big contributor in cash and time to the democrats, and one of the most influential in the state House Of Representatives is 5’3”. Jordan Corte is sure to support us.”
“To bolster our case Duke has compiled a short list of short male celebrities and historical figures. You should know that some of the living claim to be taller, but he got his info off the internet so it must be correct. What do you have for us Duke?”
“Current celebrities: Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, Dustin Hoffman, Paul Simon, Prince and Danny DeVito. Historically: Mahatma Gandhi, James Madison, Andrew Carnegie, Pablo Picasso and Harry Houdini. Pretty good line up, I’d say. After we get a little momentum, we can try to get the live ones that aren’t mired in scandal, or in denial about their height, to support us.”
“I think that’s a wrap, unless somebody else has something. Everything on my agenda is covered.”
SHORT made quick progress over the next few months. Jordan Corte had rounded up enough votes to get height to be a protected category in discrimination law. The Oregonian had so many letters about height discrimination; it became a continuing story with three case histories of lives ruined by height discrimination. Educators became more focused on the height of short figures in history.
Black and Latino groups became outraged at what they saw as attention paid to a frivolous group with no real claim to victimhood. Local television KOIN facilitated a debate between Roland Jefferson, Julio Cardenas and Duke Hanley. Jefferson quoted all of the statistics about police profiling, lower wages and the legacy of slavery. Cardenas also had bad stats for his group and the anti-immigrant hysteria. Hanley found a study that showed that 89% of white women would rather date a tall member of any other ethnic group than a short white man, and that when controlled for education and other variables, short guys weren’t doing that well in other respects either. In a poll at the end of the broadcast blacks had 28% of people thinking that black had won the grievance derby, 26% thought that Latinos had won, 18% had short guys winning and 29% thought that they should all shut up. Due to rounding the total was 101%.
Within a year, SHORT had spread through the US. Several states and the federal government were considering outlawing short discrimination in housing and employment. Supermodel 6”1’ Jamaica Novella bragged about the sexual prowess of her boyfriend 5’2” Mickey Vango. Shortly thereafter, James Brandy said that Vango was Brandy’s boyfriend and the claimed romance was a stunt to get publicity for Novella and Vango. In response Novella and Vango released a sex tape. The public was undecided on its authenticity after hours of viewing. Despite the controversy, it became a proof of political correctness for couples to consist of short him, tall her. SHORT got more support when three short male celebrities that were not involved in scandal made a joint public announcement in favor of the group.
Affiliated groups around the world adopted variations of 1.52 to 1.65 meters as the limits on height.
SHORT was the movement of the moment, but it was killed in part by its success. The group splintered into smaller special interest groups – Short Jewish Homosexuals, Black, Fat and Short, Just Short, and Short and Old. When the splinter groups wanted their share of SHORT funds, it was discovered that Duke Hanley, the treasurer of SHORT, had embezzled $150,000 and spent it on tall prostitutes and the lottery. Within two years short guys were worse off than they had ever been, but the lift industry was doing very well.
Inspired by the promotion and prevalence of victim and grievance groups.
Author’s Note – He does not judge on race, religion, color, country of origin, or content of soul, but rather on the opinion of his stories. He can talk trash about the short, because he is one.
Originally in the defunct Nugget Tales, now in Fiction On The Web and Raven Cage. Ariel Chart accepted it enthusiastically, but without explanation didn’t run it. In Written Tales (illustrated / defunct). .