"What's this movie about again?" my sister Samantha muttered in a jet-lagged fog. She'd disembarked from her London flight a day earlier and was still stiff. Slouching in her seat, she tried to stretch out her long legs, balancing a bag of popcorn in one hand and adjusting her glasses with the other.
"A serial killer terrorizes a city," I answered above the din of people shouting in the aisles, saving seats and screaming popcorn requests. "He kills prostitutes and cuts out their eyes. Just your standard happy Hollywood fare. Here, give me that." I took her bag away and ate two handfuls as she attempted to rearrange herself.
"Is it my imagination or are movie seats getting tiny too?" she groaned. "I thought I'd sleep on the plane, but how can you possibly relax when crammed in a three-by-three-foot space? And now this."
"Blame our genes," I said. "Plus British Airways. You don't notice those Brits having any problem folding themselves up and dozing off."
"Well, they're little," she said, taking her popcorn back and looking pointedly into the bag.
"Speaking of which," I said as I reached over and took a sip of her lemonade, "how are things with the men over there in London?"
Sam rolled her eyes. "OK," she said noncommittally. The 10-year age gap between my younger sister and me made both of us a little uncomfortable around the area of sex. On my side, there was always a tension between wanting to know and being confronted with too much detail. On her side, talking to her older sister about sex was probably like Mom Lite.
"They're so tiny, you know?" she said. "It annoys me."
"I do know," I said, and thought briefly I should leave it at that.
We chomped our popcorn in silence.
"But tiny ... how?"
"Well, short," said my sister, who is 5-10. I nodded in agreement as we looked at the blank screen. Samantha crunched on some kernels. "Remember my friend Julianne? The one who's like a Botero?"
"Yes. Botero, Rubenesque. I remember."
"Well, she had an interesting experience last week. We were all at the pub, drinking away, and one thing led to another and she went home with this guy named Peter. Now, Peter has always had a thing about her, he's always looking at her ass. You remember Julianne has a huge ass, and huge breasts. But she's not fat -- she's just, well, big. And Peter is tiny. Apparently it has always been his fantasy to be with a big woman."
"You mean Peter's short. Like what, a little shorter than us?" I brought my hand up to my eyebrows. "What, 5-5? 5-6?"
"No, no. I mean little. I mean, 5-2 at most. And teeny wrists, and little hips. Just one of those little guys." Samantha started to giggle. "And I gather having sex with Julianne was one of his biggest fantasies played out. He had his hands on her ass the entire time."
"How was it for her?" I shuddered. "Frankly, this is not a very nice mental picture, them having sex. What about his penis?"
"Medium," she said. She looked thoughtful, then pulled on the straw of her lemonade. "It wasn't so nice for her. She said he didn't have enough oomph to go deep enough."
"Blecchh." I was glad she wasn't detailing her own sex life, but these failed sexual encounters were like gory traffic accidents. I hated hearing about them in theory but also felt compelled to look. "Sometimes these tiny guys have other skills. Did he go down on her?"
"I don't think so."
"No? Did she on him?"
"Yup." We sighed heavily. Samantha sipped some more lemonade.
"I really am a sizist, I think," I observed, after a while. I glanced around at the men in the theater. Sitting down, they looked normal, but you just couldn't tell. "My friend Harriet, she's the same way. She's worse actually. She said when she was a teenager, she brought this boy home to meet her parents, and when he left her mother started giggling, saying, 'You two looked so funny together!' And ever since then, she's not been able to go out with a short man. And when she says short, she means the same size as her, 5-10."
"That rules out a lot of men," Samantha commented. "Does she equate short with weak?"
"I guess so," I said slowly. "For me, it's not weak. It's -- something else. I just figure in our culture, they're going to be screwed up in some way about their shortness."
"How could they not be," Samantha interrupted, "with women like you and Harriet?"
"And you," I said. "You said it annoys you. I'm just being honest here. I don't like men in turtlenecks. I don't like mustaches. And I do not take short men seriously. If they're my height, maybe. But I look at a short man and I think Big Ego, Small Dick. Is that so terrible?"
"That is terrible," Samantha said severely. I put it down to her youth. "I think it's English men that I don't like," she grumbled. "Maybe it's not their size. I like French men and they're usually tiny. But they know what they're doing."
The lights began to dim and we slouched deeper in our seats. "You didn't tell me Ewan McGregor was in this," she whispered as the credits started to roll for what would turn out to be an absolutely horrible movie. "I like him."
"He's cute," I whispered back. "But he's a movie star."
"Thanks for stating the obvious."
"What do all male movie stars have in common?" I persisted, hissing in her ear. She nodded knowingly as we said in unison, "They're short."