The Longer You Live, the Shorter You’ll Be

Live long enough and you’re likely to lose not only some of your hearing and eyesight, but also an inch or two of your height. Hearing aids and glasses are so common no one remarks about them. But accept some form of elevation to regain normal height and watch the critics step up.

So it was with Mark Zuckerberg, 33-year-old Facebook millionaire, when he testified before Congress in Washington early in April. The first day he was seated behind a table uncomfortably high for his five foot six inch height. His shoulders appeared to be lifted. Next day congress seated him in an executive sized wooden chair so broad and low they perched him on a thick vinyl covered cushion. Any patient from the TV show, “My 600 lb. Life”, would slip easily between the chair’s massive curved arms.

News commentators delighted in drawing attention to his small stature.

To my upholsterer’s eye, the cushion Zuckerberg was given appeared to lack breathing fabric; he sat on trapped air. That is less comfortable than sitting on a flat board. The air squished to the back so that he sat downhill forever pushing to climb back up.

Zuckerberg isn’t the only national figure who must plan ahead to sit at eye level with executives. Hollywood divorce attorney, 75-year-old Gloria Allred, revealed in her Netflix biography that she measures only five foot two inches. To gain command in high-level meetings with lawyers and judges, she carries a well-travelled copy of Los Angeles ’ three inch thick Yellow Pages as a booster cushion.

One year ago during a complete physical examination my doctor measured my height. I was astonished to see I had lost four inches, so slowly I had not realized why my chin was closer to my breakfast bran buds and my writing arm rested too heavily on the table to let me create curvy cursive.

I tested sitting on a 170-page Reader’s Digest Atlas of Canada, bought at a library book sale years ago. It covers the entire seat of my dining chair. The extra inch brought me up to where I had been and all was fine again.

Lately though, I’ve noticed last year’s problems returning. I tried topping up my chair with the 240-page companion Atlas of the World which adds another inch. That should do it for now.

Except for a related problem.

The two atlases together weigh six pounds. Moving the chair back and forth with that weight will eventually loosen the chair’s legs and back spindles. Then I’ll have to locate the white glue and long cabinetmaker’s clamps and repair the chair. For now, my chair is Grandma’s and like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, no one else sits on it.

I have one more chair too low to work for me – the metal folding chair I had sat upon during my years of sewing upholstery jobs. Even a three-inch foam cushion isn’t completely satisfactory but I make do. Otherwise, I’d have to carpenter a wooden platform under the chair itself. Come to think of it, that’s a worthwhile notion.

So far, my diminishing height doesn’t impact my driving. I dread to think of young folk joking about little old ladies craning over the dashboard. My five foot two inch sister drives a Jeep SUV with seats considerate as a caravan camel — with the touch of a switch they lower while she gets in or out, then return to driving height. Critics foiled.

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