I strode into Bubba’s on Shore Drive at 1 p.m. last Friday afternoon and as I did, the hostess sized me up and nodded toward her right.
“Your group is meeting in the back,” she said pleasantly.
“How do you know which group I’m with?” I asked, surprised.
She rolled her eyes and grinned.
Yep, even with three-inch-heels I’m still a short person. And I was joining The Alexander Pope Club For Little Men and Women at their 8th annual meeting. There, at a long table in the back room of Bubba’s - “the diminutive of Brother’s,” the invitation reminded us - were about 20 similarly pint-sized people.
What better day to celebrate the joy of being elfin than on December 21, the shortest day of the year? And what better way to celebrate than with short pints of beer, shrimp and homemade shortbread in the merry company of others who were always picked last for basketball?
In a world where tallness is widely regarded as a virtue and where being runty is regarded as a curse, it was delightful to watch this erudite band of bantamweights battle wits with original poems that touched on the subject of stature.
A pride event, if you will, for pygmies.
I attended the inaugural meeting of the group in 2010 and wrote about it for The Virginian-Pilot. It was the brainchild of Terry Lindvall, C.S. Lewis Endowed Chair in Communication and Christian Thought Professor of Communication at Virginia Wesleyan University.
I don’t think Dr. Lindvall would be insulted if I mentioned that he is not a tall man.
For those unfamiliar with Alexander Pope, he was a brilliant 18th-century poet - you know, “a little learning is a dangerous thing,” who stood just 4-foot-6-inches. Tidewater’s collection of proud, small people - heavy on academics like Lindvall - revere him and open their annual meeting with a toast to the dead poet.
It must be hard for lanky people to understand, but some of us like being short. No one cringes when they see one of US coming down the aisle of an airplane. In fact, the horsey set probably enjoys sitting next to miniature passengers. Likewise, no one grumbles when they are behind us in the movies or at a football game. We never block your view.
You could be nice to us. But no, the fashion world continues to churn out clothes that look ridiculous on us and store managers continue to put things on top shelves and yell at us when we climb like monkeys to retrieve them.
Yet most undersized folks remain good humored about being short in a tall world.
Lindvall kicked off the poetry reading:
Eight years of meeting
With each greeting
Time is fleeting
In Parlement of foules
Olde Chaucer growls
A short wan preface:
“Ars longa, vita brevis”
Thus we yearn
For a few more years
But we also learn
Time shrinks as we drink beers.
Height of stature
Bows on the stage
Before the imminent
Short length of age.
The meeting was - unsurprisingly - a short one.