I have the condition achondroplasia, more commonly known as dwarfism. It has affected me from birth. I say this because I was once asked by someone when I ‘came down’ with it. As though all was well until my mother decided to put me in the wash on a high heat.
Though I must admit, it was a pretty accurate choice of phrasing. I don’t know of anybody who ‘went up’ with dwarfism.
If I had a pound for every strange comment/question I received because of my size, I'd probably have the down payment on a mortgage by now. On a pretty big house.
It's amazing how the minds of some people work when faced with something they have never seen before. The kind of questions they see fit to ask.
Take the following situation, which is just one of many examples.
I was on my way to work one afternoon, waiting for the bus. It was late as usual. I think they just have timetables up for decoration now. The rain was pouring and there were lots of other people huddled under the shelter. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed one of them was glancing at me. A man, middle-aged and he appeared to be trying to find something to say to me.
Depending on what mood I'm in, I like talking to people, though small-talk has never really been my thing. Despite what my size might suggest.
After a moment or two of awkward silence, he spoke.
“Awful weather, isn't it?”
No kidding. The rain was falling down in sheets and bouncing off the floor. Any plans I might have had for sunbathing that day were definitely cancelled.
However, I refrained from pointing out how obvious this was and just smiled in agreement. Shortly afterwards, I decided to go and sit down. Expecting our local buses to be reliable is like expecting a chocolate teapot not to melt.
He followed and came to sit next to me, still appearing to be looking for something to say as I read my book. I could feel his presence next to me, the awkwardness hanging over the air like a cloud.
Eventually, he spoke again. But what he said was definitely not what I was expecting.
“If you don't mind me asking, do you know that small guy on TV?”
I put my book down and thought for a moment. In my mind, there were only two people he could possibly mean. One was Peter Dinklage, the American actor best known for playing Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones. The other was Warwick Davies, the British actor best known for playing Willow in the film of the same name.
Taking a wild guess, I replied to the man.
“Do you mean Warwick Davies?”
His eyes lit up as though he had just won the jackpot.
“Yeah, that's him! Do you know him?”
I blinked and replied as politely as I could.
“Well, I know of him, but I don't know him personally. Why?”
“I just wondered if you were in the same business. I thought you might operate in the same circles.”
Um, no. The mere coincidence that we both happen to be little people does not make us the best of friends. The last time I acted on a stage was in our high school's production of The Wizard of Oz. I played a jitterbug. Not the lofty heights I would need to reach to become friends with famous actors. It's a little like asking a black person if they know Whoopi Goldberg.
At that moment, the bus turned into the station and I took my opportunity to escape. I don't remember where the man went. But nobody asked me for my autograph so I don't think I gave the wrong impression.
People never cease to amaze me. But I’m the last person to blame them for being short-sighted.