D.L. Stewart: A lifelong goal is inching away

My doctor just called with the results of my latest physical exam and the results were alarming.

I’m shrinking.

For most of my adult life I’ve been 6-feet tall. But now, according to his measurements, I’m officially 5’10.5.”

I should, I suppose, be happy he also reported that the rest of the check-up indicated my liver, kidneys and all those other things I can’t see are fine. But I’ve always been proud to say I was a 6-footer.

There’s no good reason for that pride, of course. It’s not as if I achieved my former height by means of hard work and clean living. Still, reaching 6-foot was a goal for boys of my generation. But then, in my generation 6-footers could play center on their high school basketball team.

I know getting shorter is a natural consequence of aging; plenty of little old men used to be big young men. Your spine compresses, your feet get flatter and, bingo, the next thing you know you’re calling a flight attendant to help get your carry-on bag into the overhead bin.

The good news is that I’m probably not shrinking any faster than most other men my age. On average, we shrivel about a quarter to a third of an inch each decade after we reach 40. And I can take some consolation in the fact that my height still is above average. For American men, the average is 5’9.5.” And I’d still be known as “Stretch” in Bolivia, where the average is 5’2.”

But if this keeps up I worry that eventually I’ll become one of those little old drivers who can’t see over the steering wheel of his car and all other motorists will be able to see will be the top of my head. Which probably will be bald.

There’s also the impact on my wardrobe as I inch downward, which is the reverse of the impact on my wardrobe when I was a teenager inching upward. Instead of outgrowing my clothes, my clothes will be outgrowing me and I’ll need a new wardrobe. Otherwise my hands will disappear into my sleeves and the cuffs of my pants will be under my shoes.

While there’s not much I can do to get back the inch and a half I’ve lost, there are, experts say, ways to slow the process. They recommend not smoking, not drinking alcohol or caffeine to excess, exercising and eating lots of foods with vitamin D in them, such as kale.

I’d rather be auditioning for a role as a munchkin in the local theater production of Wizard of Oz than eat kale.

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