We said our goodbyes, and as he walked away he turned and said, "I'll see you shortly," not see you later, or see you next time, but I'll see you SHORTLY.

Even if he was unaware of it, I knew what he was implying.

I was born short, and have remained short all of my life. Sadly, with the years taking a toll on my spinal column, I am becoming even shorter. Most of the time it has been a non-issue. I think the first time I became aware of my shortness was in my pre-pubescent years. I remember aunts and uncles telling my mother that it was only a matter of time before I would "shoot up." That was the phrase they used, and it has stuck firmly in my mind -- shoot up.

I don't remember ever asking my parents about it. They were both short, as was the entire lot of the Renzullis and Rondinellis. I wonder if my parents were concerned about my lack of height. Were they disappointed that I did not "shoot up?" Did I fail them? I don't want to think about that.

For the most part I am oblivious to my shortness, and it's only in certain circumstances that I'm forced to deal with it. One that seems to becoming more frequent is being in close proximity to a very tall person. I make a concerted but subtle effort to avoid being so close that I have to look up at them. I will move away to allow some distance between us -- 10-12 feet for casual acquaintances and 4-6 feet for close friends. My wife says I look all "shifty" when I'm creating this buffer zone, but I don't believe it.

I recently stumbled across an article about famous Hollywood actors who were short. I thought this would give my self-esteem a big boost, but it was not to be. The actors they were calling short were all taller than me. If you're 5'5" tall, 5'7" is not short. That's tall. Over a dozen actors were listed, and they were all taller than me. The only one shorter was Danny DeVito, my new role model.

The real reason for today's diatribe is a recent encounter with our new washing machine. It was early morning and I was getting ready to get in the shower when I realized I needed a towel. I yelled to my wife who said clean towels were in the dryer. Still in my underwear, I made my way to the laundry room where I found a towel and proceeded to remove the remaining dry clothes from the dryer.

The problem began when I decided to transfer wet clothes from the washer to the dryer. This was my first encounter with our new top-loading washer. The task went smoothly until I reached the last of the clothes, mostly socks, at the bottom of the tub. I stretched my lean sculpted arms as far as they would go, but could not reach the bottom. I stood on my toes and pressed my abdomen hard against the edge of the washer and came tantalizingly close, only to have the socks slip from my fingertips.

After several unsuccessful tries I became a cauldron of frustration and determination and would not be satisfied until I got that last miserable sock. I managed to lean over until my feet were no longer touching the floor, balancing on the edge of the washing machine that was now quite familiar with my belly. It was then that I realized the elastic band of my underwear was caught on something, and was the only thing keeping me from reaching the socks. I thought if I began rocking back and forth I might reach the bottom, but quickly dismissed that notion when I almost did a header into the tub and was saved by my underwear, which was now being severely tested.

I could only imagine what might have been a nightmare scenario for my sweet wife -- finding me lost in the bowels the washing machine with only my legs and feet visible and my underwear around my ankles. I loved her too much to expose her to that. So I carefully settled back down to the floor, checked my underwear for tears, and grabbed a coat hanger. With some creative twisting I fashioned a hook with which I eventually retrieved the socks.

I met Patience in the hallway on my way back to our bedroom. She looked at the deep large red line across my lower abdomen and said, "Oh dear, you didn't empty the washer did you? There was one more cycle left for that load."

I wonder if Danny DeVito does his own laundry.

Probably not.

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