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The highs and lows of being tall

How do you know if you're tall? You needn't worry – strangers will come up and tell you.

I speak as one who knows. Thanks to lanky genes and a childhood spent lying around reading books – thereby dodging gravity's forces – by my late teens I topped off at two metres in height (that's almost 6 feet 7 inches for all you imperialists out there).

Which is pretty tall – something that people have been helpfully pointing out ever since.

I don't mind, and possible tedium is more than offset by the variety of approaches. Some favour time-honoured salutations – "how's the weather up there?" – while others quickly move into keen dissections of my family and ancestry.Most merely seek a point of information – how tall are you, exactly? There are also many who fear I must get tired of being asked. So they ask my friends.

In the grand scheme of things, two metres isn't that tall – especially since a lot of people confidently tell me that they have an uncle somewhere who would make me look like a short-arse – but it's rare for me to meet anyone taller, outside of a basketball tournament.

But it carries many pros and cons. Here are just a few.

THE HIGHS

Uncrowded views

I have no idea why half of humanity buys standing room tickets to stadium shows. Especially if there's the possibility of someone like me standing in front of you. It can be an almost isolating experience, up above the crowd, but if you want to know what shoes the singer is wearing, just ask.

Dating sites

There is a place in the world for boldly stated vertical preferences, and that place is online dating sites. "Please be tall/taller than me," appears to be a common imperative. No problemo. Then again, I've surely been deemed too tall in my time – an unwitting victim of covert heightism.

Man's world

I've never been in a fight, and I'm guessing being physically imposing helps with this – it certainly adds confidence in conflict situations. I've heard of pugilists targeting taller folk, like big game hunters, but so far, so good. And when people have come at me in twos and threes, I've done the honourable thing – cut and run.

Recognisability

It's a great point of difference. "I was that tall bloke" is a useful mnemonic to flick at people who find me otherwise unremarkable.

THE LOWS

Air travel

The all-time worst thing about being tall is travelling by plane. Everyone complains about diminishing leg-room – but try flying 10,000 miles with my legs. I once had a never-fail tactic for securing the exit row – I'd arrive early, tower over the check-in counter and politely beg. Nowadays, those seats are usually sold to the earliest bidder, in yet another triumph of cash-grabbing over courtesy.

Cocktail parties

It may be great to be head and shoulders above the crowd in a stadium concert, but it's no fun at a stand-up gabfest. A tightly-packed throng becomes an amorphous mass of bald patches and bad hair partings, while nipple-level conversations can be hard to follow. Bar stools in such situations are the tall man's best friend.

Fitting in

Life is an eternal hunt for things that fit – cars, bicycles, desks, doorways, you name it. Clothes are a persistent challenge. There are specialty shops, but being relatively slim is another limitation, as opposed to being big and tall. Meanwhile, footboards on beds are the devil's work, sent to torture the lofty.

Ultimately, being tall shapes the way I experience the world, how people react to me, and has got me into – and out of – more situations than I'd ever hope to tally. I wouldn't want to change, even if I could.

Well, except for one thing. I also have huge feet. And trust me, there's no upside to that.