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Jim Mullen: One giant leap for man kind

Jim Mullen • Updated May 11, 2018 at 4:00 PM

I passed a 25-year-old kid in the mall this morning, walking with some of his friends. He was an average-looking guy, with the exception that he was easily a head taller than I am. All of his friends were taller than I am, too, but just by an inch or two. Some of the girls in the group were just about my height: 6 foot even.

Looking around, I noticed that all the kids in that age group seemed taller than the average person in my age group -- some of them much taller. Maybe it’s just a sign of my dotage, but now that I’m paying attention, young people have suddenly started to look alarmingly gigantic to me.

I was in a grocery store not long ago, and there was a 6-year-old sitting in the cart his mother was pushing. “Isn’t that a little old to be pushed around by your mom?” was my first thought, until I saw the Mylar balloon the child was holding. It read “Happy 2nd Birthday!” What are they feeding this kid? Magic beans? How big are HIS children going to be? King-sized anything simply won’t be big enough anymore.

Apparently it isn’t big enough already. Customers already complain to hotels that their feet hang over the edge of the bed, and to restaurants that their chairs and tables are too small. The back seat of most cars is a joke. 

Traveling economy in an airplane today is like being loaded into an already full trash compactor. If you can, beg for aisle seat because then, at least, you’ll be able to move one arm. Mummies have more legroom than airline passengers. Of course, the mummies had to have their brains dissolved and sucked out through their noses to get that kind of space, but after one or two connecting flights, that doesn’t sound so bad. 

When we visit a historic site, whether a house or a museum, the furniture all looks as if it came from a doll’s house. Will our giant great-grandchildren think the same of today’s couches and doorframes? Will we start to look like Hobbits to them? Will they have to watch where they walk so they won’t accidentally crush us underfoot? 

Will hotel rooms come with smaller facilities for us tiny old folks, so we don’t accidentally flush ourselves down giant-sized toilets? Will we be able to stand the pressure of showers without being blown over like a cub reporter in the middle of a hurricane? Will doctors have to use special tiny needles to take older people’s blood without draining us completely?

Then again, it’s not just young people who look bigger to me lately; it’s everything. Maybe I’m shrinking. Bed pillows seem to be the size of sofas now. Personal soda bottles look closer to two-liters. Coca-Cola introduced their “king-sized” bottle in 1955. It was 12 ounces. I think we were meant to share it. Coffee cups? You mean, like, one cup of coffee? I think I saw one in an antique store. Can you believe people used to drink coffee in those little things? Didn’t they know about travel mugs? Can you imagine trying to drink your daily six cups of scalding-hot banana/hazelnut Kona fresh-ground gourmet coffee in a cup? In bumper-to-bumper traffic? I wonder if there’s a statistical case to be made that humans have been getting taller since the gourmet coffee shop trend started.

My friend Pat says there are things I can do to make myself taller, like hang like a bat when I sleep. But that seems like a lot of effort with little reward. Besides, I have a creepy feeling that the younger, taller generation already thinks that people my age sleep that way.

Contact Jim Mullen at mullen.jim@gmail.com.

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