You know the drill: You’re at the doctor’s office, and it’s the prelim round: A nurse is taking your blood pressure, going over your meds and, finally, checking your height and weight.
If you’re like me, you’re more interested in finding out how much that big, old-fashioned-looking scale says you weigh. I mean, I already know how tall I am, right?
On this particular day, this past week, my blood pressure and my weight are just fine. Then, just for the heck of it (being in a dangerously jaunty mood) I ask about my height.
Five foot nine, the nurse says.
What?! Can’t be! Why, I’ve been five-eleven (OK, OK, maybe five-ten and three quarters, if you really want to get technical) ever since I was a teen, and maybe even a little before that.
OK, the nurse says, I’ll try it again.
This time I make sure I am standing really tall and straight.
And now I’m five-nine and a half.
Which is an improvement.
Somewhere I have lost an inch. Not only for that, for years I have put my height down on forms as five-eleven (I figure they’ll laugh at me if I am really technical and say five-ten and three quarters), and apparently for some time now the folks who have looked at these forms and then looked at me have been privately and quietly shaking their heads, pitying me for harboring such a grand delusion.
“Poor guy,” they must be thinking, “too proud to admit it. Oh well, at least he doesn’t dye what’s left of his hair, and that comb-over isn’t too ridiculous. Let’s humor him.”
As you might expect, part of me is mightily embarrassed.
But another part of me is wondering: What happened to that inch? (OK, OK, that inch and a quarter. Geez, you math whizzes are so insufferable.)
What’s worse, I don’t know exactly where I lost the inch. Or whether I lost it all at once or gradually. Did I mislay it on a bus? (I’ve been known to do that with umbrellas.) Or was it more gradual? And where is my missing inch now? Is someone who saw me lose it on that bus but didn’t speak up about it now mysteriously an inch taller? (Can’t trust anyone these days.)
Or should I be checking the cushions of my living room furniture? Maybe that lost inch is somewhere in a chair, along with 56 cents in change. Or maybe I left a quarter of an inch in my living room chair and the rest of it fell out over time while I was napping on the couch.
If you’ll all excuse me now, I have to get out the vacuum cleaner….