“Then you’ve got your brother,” she observed. “That makes five—wow. Now, that’s a big family.”

I looked at the sunbaked cars we would soon be climbing into—furnaces, every one of them—and said, “Yes. It certainly is.”

Little Guy

I was sitting around the house one evening when I suddenly wondered how tall Rock Hudson was. It’s not often that I think of him, but I’d recently rewatched the movie Giant, so he was on my mind.

One of the many things I’ll never understand is why a search on my computer might be different from a search on someone else’s—my sister Amy’s, for instance. She’ll go to Google, type in “What does a fifty-year-old woman look like?,” and summon pictures I can’t believe they allow on the Internet, unlocked, where just anyone can see them. I don’t mean Playboy shots but the sort you’d find in Hustler. It’s as if she’d asked, “What does the inside of a fifty-year-old woman look like?”

I did the same search and got pictures of Meg Ryan and Brooke Shields, smiling.

I said to Hugh, “This computer of mine is so…wholesome.”

I said it again after looking up Rock Hudson. “How tall is…” I began, and before I could finish, Google interrupted me with “…Jesus? You want to know how tall Jesus was?”

Well, OK, I thought. But it’s Rock Hudson I was really curious about.

Were Amy to open her laptop and type “How tall is…” Google would finish her question with “…Tom Hardy’s dick?” With mine, though, it’s Jesus, who they’re guessing came in at around six feet, which is ridiculous in my opinion. What are the odds that he was both tall and handsome? Is he described that way in the Bible? In some of the early northern European paintings, Christ looks like you flushed him out from under a bridge, but in Sunday-school books and the sorts of pictures they sell at Christian supply stores, he falls somewhere between Kenny Loggins and Jared Leto, always doe-eyed and, of course, white, with brown—not black—hair, usually wavy. And he always has a fantastic body, shown at its best on the cross, which—face it—was practically designed to make a man’s stomach and shoulders look good.

What would happen, I often wonder, if someone sculpted a morbidly obese Jesus with titties and acne scars, and hair on his back? On top of that, he should be short—five foot two at most. “Sacrilege!” people would shout. But why? Doing good deeds doesn’t make you good-looking. Take Jimmy Carter. Habitat for Humanity didn’t do a thing for those tombstone-size teeth of his. Or at least I remember his teeth as seeming pretty big. I should Google Image them. On Amy’s computer.

At five-five, I never give much thought to my height until I do. Whenever I come across a man my size—at the airport, say, or in a hotel lobby—I squeak the way a one-year-old does when it spots a fellow baby. It’s all I can do not to toddle over and embrace the guy. Whenever I do say something—“Look, we’re the same height!”—it turns weird, though I don’t know why. Don’t fellow Porsche drivers acknowledge one another, or people walking the same breed of dog? With small straight men, I often get the feeling that they don’t want their shortness pointed out, that it’s like saying, “Look, I have a bald spot too!”

I want to ask the guys my size if, like me, they find themselves being hit up for money a lot. Hugh and I will walk through one city or another and, while he’ll advance down the sidewalk uninterrupted, I’ll get stopped again and again. “Can you give me a dollar? A cigarette? Whatever’s in that bag you’re holding?”

It’s not that I have a particularly friendly face, so I have to assume that my stature has something to do with it, especially when the request becomes a demand. “I said, ‘Give me a dollar.’”

“Would you be talking to me this way if I were taller than you?” I want to ask the ten-year-old with his hand out.

I know that short straight men sometimes have it hard when it comes to finding a girlfriend, but I thought that for people like myself—“pocket gays,” we’re sometimes called—it was no hindrance. In retrospect, I guess I wasn’t paying much attention. The Washington Post has a regular feature in which they send two people out on a date and then check in to see how it went. Recently the couple was gay. Both stood more than six feet and listed in their “Deal-Breakers” box “short men.” They did not, I noticed, exclude white supremacists or machine-gun owners.

Who wants to date you anyway? I wondered, scowling at the photos.

I’m not one of those short men who feels he got shafted. Yes, it’s hard to buy things off the rack, but that’s what tailors are for. I fit easily into airplane seats. I can blend into crowds when I want to. Added height would be of no more use to me than a square head, so who needs it? I like knowing how tall other people are, though, especially celebrities. That’s why I Googled Rock Hudson, who, at six foot five, had every right to appear in Giant. He towered over his costars in that picture, but with other actors it’s hard to tell.

I once asked someone in the movie business how tall Paul Newman was. This was back when he was still alive and before I had the Internet. “Oh,” said this woman who’d worked with him on Mr. & Mrs. Bridge, “he’s tiny.”

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