I like 'em short

What short men lack in height, they make up for in might.

Published February 29, 2000 5:00PM (EST)

"Have I got a guy for you!" a friend said the other day. "Smart, rich, handsome, charming ..." "Is he short?" I interrupted. I wanted to know. Because after years of being politically correct, giving less attractive men a chance, I've owned up to being picky. If he's over 5-foot-7, he'd better have one hell of a personality. Or better yet, a short friend.

Sure, it's shallow to judge a man by his stature, but I can't help it. I'm only 5-5, and I'm attracted to men who are my own height. It seems perfectly reasonable to me. There are all kinds of equally superficial reasons to be turned on or off by someone. Many women will only date a man if he has a full head of hair. Others insist on a washboard stomach. Measuring a man's attractiveness in vertical inches may be superficial, but at least it's a
feature that lasts a lifetime.

Unfortunately, like so many of life's finest luxuries, there just aren't enough short men to go around. In the United States the average man is 5-9. We're second only to the Netherlands for having the tallest people in the world. (The average Dutchman stands almost 6 feet tall, or 6-2 if he's wearing those wooden shoes.) Japan's average man is a perfect 5-5, but it's an awfully long way to go for a date. For American women, there's always going to be a shortage of short guys.

Last December I took a trip to Las Vegas just so I could be there during the annual Jockey's Guild Convention. I
pictured a hotel full of short guys, a chance to get lucky with every elevator ride. But it was a losing proposition. The convention was held at the MGM Grand, the biggest hotel in town; short guys are tough to find in a crowd.

Some would say that there aren't as many short men because of natural selection. More women prefer taller men. But do they really, or do they just not know any better?

I've always wondered about women who want their men to be a head taller than they are. Perhaps they are uncomfortable about looking their guy in the eye? Do they feel too large and want to feel petite? Maybe it's some kind of daddy fixation. Or do they just believe that a man doesn't listen anyway, so why not talk to his chest?

Perhaps some women are overwhelmed by the male physique. They're only capable of dealing with one body part at a time. Personally, I like to have everything within easy reach. Kissing is a lot more fun when you're not getting a cramp in your neck. And for a total erotic experience, you just can't beat having lips, nips and hips all match up at the same time. There's a special intimacy that comes with being the same height as your
lover. Visually, your perspective is the same. You truly see each other eye to eye. And with lips so close to ears, secrets are easily shared, even in public places.

There's a sense of exhibitionism that comes into play, too. You and your lover are always so perfectly aligned, so perfectly matched up, so easy access. Clothes are all that keep your bodies from touching in all the right places.

A woman in my yoga class says that short guys
are great for "playground sex." "It's like when you were kids and the boys and girls were pretty much the same size. Back then just kissing seemed so forbidden and exciting. I feel that same way when I'm with my short boyfriend," she said, adding quickly, "not that I'm into little kids or anything."

There is a special youthfulness about short men. Most retain their boyish looks well beyond boyhood. The aging back problems that plague their taller brothers aren't as common among short men. Gravity is kinder to them.
And, of course, sex fits better. Being the same height makes it possible to do complicated positions without being super flexible. Standing sex is easier when your legs are the same length. And if you're into toys or fantasy clothes, well, one size fits both.

"But what if he's, you know, short where it counts?" asked a female friend who only dates tall guys, and is forever having bad experiences with towering infernos. I believe that as long as the man is not short on personality, the woman is probably not taking too big a risk. Contrary to what you read in Penthouse Forum, by and large, most men are neither large nor bi. Any gal who's been around more than one block will tell you that most men's organs fall within a rather limited range; most penis sizes measure up to a resounding "average."

Depending on which study you believe, the average penis size is somewhere between 5 and 6 inches. But the difference in average penis size for a 5-foot-4 man and a 6-foot-4 one is only half an inch!

Perception makes the difference. Does he pull out six itty-bitty inches or is he packing half a foot? Is size predictable? Not very. Sure you can look at feet, fingers and noses. Big thick fingers are an assurance that you'll get something big and thick -- fingers. Short, tall, fat or thin doesn't seem to make a reliable difference in predicting penis size. Tight pants make for nice packaging, but don't really reveal much about the package.

With the family jewels, like fine jewels, the setting is key. A man's body is sort of a background display for his dick. And it works like an optical illusion. Big body + average penis = OK. Average body + average penis = average. Really short guy + average penis = wow! This is the guy who looks like he's got a third leg.

You can't stereotype penis size. Personality size, however, is another matter. There is some truth to short guys being hyper, louder and more aggressive. Since childhood, they've had to speak up to be noticed and jump up to be seen. What they lack in height, they make up for in might. Terri, a third grade teacher, agrees. "Little boys who are small for their age are frequently the biggest troublemakers," she said. "They may not beat up on other kids, but they're often the instigators behind fights. The smart ones become champions at verbal sparring. Some even manipulate the larger boys into causing trouble. That's the real reason I seat short boys in the front row."

As short boys grow (hopefully not too much), they can use those people skills to get ahead in the world. Some will appear taller as they develop a big bank account. Rob, a 5-4 investment banker, swears that the more expensively he dresses, the taller he looks. "And when I'm driving my Mercedes SL 500, I look 6 feet tall!"

I've always believed that all men can be masculine. But short men have their masculinity in a stronger, more concentrated form. Yes, they can sometimes be extra explosive -- it's a matter of contents under pressure. Napoleon was a classic example. Here was a short guy who had a high-testosterone, full-of-fight personality. And he had a reputation for being one very horny dude. That picture of him standing with his hand tucked into his coat? I'm guessing he was actually grabbing his "you know what." It reached all the way up there.

Hollywood is loaded with the short and powerful. Ever since the days when 5-foot-4 Alan Ladd was filmed with other, taller actors standing in trenches, it's been obvious whose size really counts. Mel Gibson, Tom Cruise, Dustin Hoffman, Al Pacino -- the short list of sexy leading men goes on and on. And Harvey Keitel has been right up front in proving that short doesn't mean small. Even the behind-the-scenes big shots aren't so big. Entertainment moguls Jeffry Katzenberg, Barry Diller, David Geffen and Laurence Tisch are just a few of the short guys doing some heavy moving and shaking.

Football players may have the macho image. But for every massive football player who's wrapped, padded and relying on his teammates to help win the big game, there's a lone jockey riding half a dozen races a day. With only light protective gear and his own balls, he drives a 1,200-pound horse at breakneck speed down a dangerously crowded track to the finish line. Who's the real tough guy?

My friend, who wanted to fix me up, finally admitted that the man was 6-2. He had seen me at a party the week before. I, not looking in his direction (up), hadn't even noticed him. "But he sure noticed you," she said. "He's been going on and on about your laughing eyes and heart-melting smile and fine rear view. He told me he dreams of sweeping you off your feet and taking you on a trip around the world. Please, he's been begging and begging me to introduce you."

Begging? I thought. Oh, what the hell. All men are short when they're on their knees.

By Julie Manis

Julie Manis has a business in New York where she sells custom-made shirts to men in their offices. Her dream guy wears a 31-inch sleeve.

MORE FROM Julie Manis

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Love And Sex Sex