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Picking Up a Seventeen-Foot Tall Woman

by James Swingle

I was walking through the East Village on a Friday night and entered the dim light of a dive on First Avenue. A woman with long black hair was sitting at the bar. She was seventeen feet tall. She sat erect on her barstool, but had to tilt her head forward to keep from banging it on the ceiling.

She must have felt me staring at her. She looked over her shoulder and met my eyes. Then, with no more interest than she showed the ice cube she was dunking with her swizzle stick, she turned back to her drink. I walked over and sat down next to her.

“Can I buy you a drink?” I asked.

She picked me up in her enormous hand, held me in the air for a second, and then dumped me headfirst between the two barstools. I climbed to my feet. The bottom of the barstool was a foot over my head. I grabbed the edge, slowly pulled myself up.

“Hey,” I yelled up at her. “Don’t pull that superior act with me. “

“I’m seventeen feet tall,” she said. “Look how short you are.”

“I always start out a little shy,” I said. “But once I get to know a woman, she shrinks down to size.”

She nodded, the hair on the back of her head patting the ceiling. “I’ve seen it happen that way. “

I took a sip of my beer. I was normal size again. She had to tilt her head forward to fit under the ceiling.

She pointed to a table near the window, where a tall man with olive skin and wavy hair sat, obviously bored. I noticed a second later that a woman was with him. A four-inch blonde. She stood beside his beer mug, looking as if she might disappear all together at any second.

“He’s hot,” said the woman next to me.

I shrugged. I didn’t want to become her friend. “He’s with someone.”


“Right there.” I pointed.

“I don’t see anyone.”

“By his beer mug.”

“Oh... I didn’t see her.”

We turned back to the bar. I sipped my beer. She swished her swizzle stick in her drink. “Damn, did you see how small she was? She’s a good-looking woman, too.”

“Look at this couple,” I said.

A couple was walking toward us. The guy was so small he had to run to keep up with the woman’s strides. She was lean, with thick red lips I imagined pouting out from the cover of Vogue. As they passed her moussed hair scraped the ceiling, knocking bits of plaster on us.

After they had passed, we turned back to the bar and laughed.

The woman next to me could sit upright now. There was about a half foot of space between her head and the ceiling.

“Just once I’d like to have a relationship with someone where we could both be our normal size,” she said. “I’m so tired of either being this big ogre” — she looked down at me; I smiled and brought my beer up to my mouth — “or becoming some little toy that guys carry around and then discard.”

I set my beer down. “I had a girlfriend once,” I said. “We were both the same size.”

“What happened?”

“She moved to California, for school.”

“You really loved each other?”

“Yeah,” I nodded.

“That’s great.”

“It was. We shared a studio apartment, on the second floor at the bottom of an air shaft — it only got sunlight an hour a day. Her mother saw it and said, ‘If you all can live here without killing each other you must be meant to be together’.”

The woman laughed. “Well, apartment aside, sounds like you two got along well.”

“Yeah. It was the best.” She was watching me, her head even with mine. We leaned towards each other. We kissed. We swung around on our stools so that we faced each other and kissed again. We pulled back, looking at each other. She rested her hands on my legs.

“You know,” she said. “I think I could really like you.”

No, don’t, I thought. It’s too soon.

“I’ve been waiting to meet someone like you,” she said.

Please, stop, I thought. But it was too late. We stood up. Holding hands, we walked towards the door. She kept telling me how great this could be. She shrank with every word. By the time we reached the sidewalk, she was swinging at the end of my arm like a carnival prize won by knocking over three pins for a quarter.

Copyright © 2006 by James Swingle

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