Five Foot Two And Still Sane

Nov 08
2010

Right in the middle of the Rally To Restore Sanity, I wanted to tell someone off.

We had gotten to the mall two hours early to ensure a decent spot and settled near the beginning of the middle (insert political joke here) where the Jumbotrons were in view for anyone over 5’6”.  D.C. (my boyfriend, not the city) could see the screens clearly, but I spent much of the 3 hours either on my toes or wavering from right to left (insert flip-flopping joke here) to catch the ever-shifting sweet spot between people that gave me a hand’s width view of either screen.

That probably sounds annoying, but when you’re my height, you learn early on that extensively engaged calf muscles are your fate at large gatherings like concerts and rallies. (When I was in my early 20’s, men who wanted to impress me often put me on their shoulders whether I wanted them to or not – supposedly to help me get a better view. It was this very gesture that put me directly and disruptively in the lead singer’s spotlight at a Little Feat concert in the late ‘80’s.  But I digress.)

So we had carved out our little patch of Team Sanity Land by 10:30 a.m. The surrounding empty patches slowly filled, everyone doing their best to claim some ground without treading on anyone’s paper-thin physical boundaries. One guy tried so desperately to crouch by my backpack without touching it that I swore I could see his Achilles heels burning.

When the show began with performances by The Roots and the honey-voiced John Legend, we all managed to dance without stepping on each other’s toes. And when the guys from Myth Busters encouraged all 200,000 of us to send a wave from the stage to the Washington monument, our collective reasonableness allowed us to achieve it in less than a minute!

Is there a greater universal collaboration than the wave? Literally, every single body cheering and moving in time to create one undulating expression of joy? Each piece is an imperative part of the whole, even if you’re only five foot two. (Side note: you know what it’s like to participate in a wave you can’t see coming? It’s…well…a lot like life, I suppose.)

Sanity was certainly prevailing for me. Until about an hour and a half in, when an unexpected bout of unreasonableness challenged me to an internal duel.

I was reveling in my spot close to a nice stranger over whose shoulder I had discovered my best Jumbotron view yet, when two latecomers arrived. They seemed to be in their late 40’s, with faces that betrayed lives probably consumed with enough fear to indulge in numerous substances to quell said fear. She led her boyfriend – a man with a protective shield of hair – with confidence and purpose through the crowd. They threaded the needle of the remaining available three blades of grass and came to rest right in front of me, obscuring my palm-sized view of a digital Jon Stewart. She dropped her bag and exclaimed to her boyfriend, “I can see great right here!”

I mumbled sarcastically to my accommodating stranger neighbor, “I bet you can.”

She turned to me smiling, “You know, it’s hard when you’re short!” I nodded my head in assent. She didn’t seem to notice I was, in fact, shorter than her.  I’m shorter than most adults. And most teenagers.

She turned back to the perfect-Jumbotron-view-previously-known-as-mine and I looked to my neighbor.

“She didn’t get it.”

“No, she didn’t,” he said.  He was close enough to kiss.  Not that I wanted to, but it was nice of him to let me look over his shoulder when there was a view to be had there.

As I leaned back in D.C.’s direction to again search for the elusive sweet spot, the cognitive dissonance set in.  As much as I wanted to regard her with the compassion of Yusuf’s (aka Cat Stevens) “Peace Train,” I felt like unleashing Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” on her inconsiderate ass.

Unlike them, we had planned. We made our reservations one day after the rally was announced; we read up on what was not allowed on the mall (no alcohol, no glass, etc.); we flew 3,000 miles on Thursday; we planned and planned and planned to get to the mall by 10 so we could carve out our own slice of national terra firma.

This lady and her boyfriend, clutching cigarettes and glass-bottled beers, had shown up 90 minutes in, muscled their way into the beginning of the middle section and planted themselves in our hard earned location.  The polite New Yorker in me wanted to say, “Hey, what the fuck?”

But this was the Rally To Restore Sanity, after all; we were supposed to be a group of reasonable folks. We were all there in solidarity of intelligent discourse. It would be against the whole spirit of the thing if I opened a verbal can of whupass on a fellow Team Sanity member, even if she deserved it.

So I kept my mouth shut and kept my internal struggle internal. I let her stay there. I somehow still managed to enjoy hearing the rest of the show while gazing upon a nice diversity of shoulder blades and armpits.

Eventually Jon Stewart pushed comedy aside to remind us, among other things, that we all work together every day. Like cars threading together to travel into a tunnel, we’re considerate of each other, taking turns to get things done.  “You go, then I’ll go. You go, then I’ll go,” he said. And I thought, you know what?  He’s right.

Except for the lady that usurped my foot of grass.  She apparently had said, “All 200,000 of you go, then I’ll go…and take your spot.”

My nemesis was the epitome of what Stewart called the “selfish jerk who zips up the shoulder and cuts in at the last minute, but that individual is rare and he is scorned.” And he was right.  I did scorn her.  But I caught myself, swallowed my disdain and took refuge in the sea of sanity that filled the mall.  Because after all, she may have zipped in at the middle hour, but since she was late to the party, the poor thing also missed the wave.

*****

I leave the creative videos to my man and take stills instead.

Enjoy the view from just 62 inches above ground.

(…plus the length of my arm as I held the camera above my head.)

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Team Fear Folks…
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…including my nemesis!
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Where’s -? – never mind. Found him.
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…Team Sanity Citizens…
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…and, finally, the signs.
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…and some final self-indulgence.
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13 Responses to “Five Foot Two And Still Sane”

  1. betty malicoat says:

    As a person of small stature, 5'1", I salute your apt description of the struggle between what you came to see and hear and what shows up to, not only block the view, but also disrupt the purpose for being there. You handled it perfectly!

  2. Robin Dale Meyers says:

    Thanks, Betty! Next time, I bring a step stool.

  3. Hope says:

    This is exactly how I felt every time I was at a concert and would get whipped in the face by some enthusiastic dancer's hair. I think it also happened once on the mall, in fact, at Earth Day. It made me very fond of the bun.

    Also, a long time ago, a friend's very earthy mom once made this comment regarding some appalling situation: "There's a serpent for every Eden." She said it gratefully, like it was a way to remember to accept these weird things that make us work harder and embrace them. I was 17 at the time and so I kind of thought she was out of her mind, but I never forgot that. I still mumble it to myself at times like the one you're describing.

    Wow, my whole comment is about hippies. Well, hell…Peace, baby.

  4. Robin Dale Meyers says:

    I fear that enthusiastic dancer's hair was my own. I apologize.

    …and I wonder how my friend Eden would feel about that serpent comment…

    Peace out, dude.

  5. Phil Stewart says:

    Great prose, dear! Your writing juices are superb. I always enjoy your articles!

    XXOO

    Phil

  6. Robin Dale Meyers says:

    Thanks so much for reading, Phil! Praise and readership keep those juices flowing…!

  7. Lynne Maclean says:

    You rock in all your shortness!

  8. Robin Dale Meyers says:

    Takes one to know one!

  9. Jon says:

    And what prevented you from asking the lady to either step aside or stand behind you? Heck, this was a nicey-nicey lefty liberal progressive rally. I doubt she would have asserted her second amendment rights on your ass.

    And even if she did, I bet your chivalrous boyfriend would have taken the bullet for you, right? Right?!

  10. Robin Dale Meyers says:

    Three things prevented me from engaging with her: 1) I hate confrontation, 2) despite her enjoyment of the rally, she had a face that wouldn't take shit from anyone and 3) I didn't want to end up on DC's shoulders – he's got a bad back.

  11. Alfredo Ramirez says:

    Sounds like it was a lot of fun. I had the unfortunate duty of having to deny boarding to 2 passengers who were heading out the day before to the rally. They were both about our age and a little to intoxicated to get on a plane. Plus the dude ended up being a total douche when he began "rallying" the other folks to let him board. Pilot saw this and said no go. Felt bad for his girlfriend.

  12. Robin Dale Meyers says:

    Dang. He clearly didn't deserve to go to the rally, since he displayed such unreasonableness. Perhaps this was the final straw in a long line of insane behavior that proved to his girlfriend it was time to finally break up with him. You may have saved her dating life. Congrats.

  13. Kat says:

    well, self realization through your blog. It started for me at festival seating for rock concerts. Being in behind fans taller than I and only being able to see the joints and cold duck being passed my way. Perhaps I too shall bring a step stool, if I ever attend another concert that way. End result being able to see concert. And added bonus being able to remember concert.
    Thank you !

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