Lila in the Land of the Giants

Posted on March 16, 2015


What if pickle jars came with lids that were 8″ in diameter? What if countertops were four feet high? What if chairs and toilets were three feet high? What if leaf-blower handles were as big around as mayonnaise jars, or steps were a standard 12″ high? Welcome to my world.


It has been noted that Lila is only five feet tall. This is well within the bounds of “normal,” and yet it is also well below average height for women… and really, really below average height for Americans in general.

I have previously lamented the difficulty in finding well-fitted shoes or clothing, and the annoyance and even insult that I felt during our home-building process, when I had to very bluntly reject the so-called “adult-height” bathroom vanities and “comfort-height” toilets… reminding the suppliers that I AM an adult, thank you very much, and letting my feet dangle while I do my business is NOT my definition of “comfort.” With a 28″ inseam, I am not concerned that one day, I won’t be able to lever my enormous bulk up off the toilet. I am more concerned that one day, I might suffer an undignified death by losing my balance and cracking my head on the bathroom floor as I tumble from the precarious perch of the so-called “comfort” height toilet.

It has gotten worse in recent years, but it was ever thus.

I have long despised the average sofa. Here’s how it goes at friends’ homes: “Lila, you look so tense sitting on the edge of the sofa! Sit back and relax!” “Your sofa is deeper than my femur is long, so… no thanks.” After some badgering, it becomes apparent that when Lila sits back “properly,” her feet dangle. Observers invariably find this just hilarious, but both of my knees are reconstructed, and let me tell you, sitting with my feet dangling gets pretty damn painful after a while. This is why, when badgered, I may just end up pulling my feet up and sitting cross-legged with my feet on your furniture… or move to the floor, which is usually more comfortable anyway.  To hell with propriety.

Lawn tools like mowers have push-handles that are too tall for me to have good leverage to push them. Leaf vacuums have tubes that are so long I have to hunch up my shoulders to keep them off the ground. The same goes for shoveling snow: the shovel handles are designed to be at a “comfortable” height when the shovel is at the optimum angle for plowing and scooping up the snow. Again… Lila has to shovel while holding the handle at an awkward angle with little leverage, which leaves me just muscling through it at a disadvantage. I am consistently complimented on my trapezius and deltoid muscles. My secret? Just using everyday items designed for someone much bigger than me.

Alas, while my shoulders have perhaps benefited from decades of living in the world of too-tall everything, my hands are starting to suffer for living in the world of too-big everything. I cannot tell you how many tools, containers, latches, lids, and handles for just about anything are designed with some big ol’ man-hands in mind. I have learned some tricks over the years to manipulate these things, and I’m not shy about using tools where others can just use their fingers, but still… constantly over-stretching my hands and putting too much stress and force on the joints at too much of a disadvantage has inevitably led to a bit too much wear and tear.  I see arthritis looming on my horizon, and I’m not looking forward to that.

Laugh if you want, but imagine this: what if pickle jars came with lids that were 8″ in diameter? What if countertops were four feet high? What if chairs and toilets were three feet high?

I used to dream of furnishing my home with boudoir furniture and tiny antiques that fit my own frame; to hell with the “average” people, let them sit with their knees up to their chins for a change while I repose in comfort. This is why I am glad to have my parents’ doll-like 1950’s Danish furnishings: they’re small. Come on over and suffer, baby.