News and Tribune

May 4, 2013

DODD: The short end of the argument

Local columnist

“Debate is masculine, conversation is feminine.” — Amos Bronson Alcott

Most days I am sure that my life is a country song. I don’t mean this modern stuff that passes for country music today. And don’t get me wrong, I love some of the modern music that is played on the radio, but I don’t consider much of it country music. I mean real country like George Jones (God rest his whiskey drinking soul) and Hank Williams, Sr.

I liked country when the title said it all. You know, like “If Drinking Don’t Kill Me (Her Memory Will)” or the immortal Johnny Russell, “Rednecks, White Socks, and Blue Ribbon Beer.”

Real country music was rooted in everyday life. The genesis of any country song occurs when love goes wrong. That happened to Kim and me just this past week when she was watching some cable television show about circus freaks. I was simply passing through the bedroom with no intention of stopping as she was preparing to go to bed. There was an African-American short person on the screen.

That’s it, that is all it took was just the almost passing glance of what we used to refer to as a “midget.” And she was African-American.

Kim made a simple statement of how rare that is. I simply responded, “Why do you say that? I would think there is the same percentage of African-American midgets to white midgets as there is percentage of African-Americans to Caucasians.”

As a precursor to this discussion, what I said is I am sure politically incorrect. I actually did research as to what terminology I need to use today. Common agreement seems to be short people or dwarf (the most common genetic cause being labeled as Achondroplasia). And in this case, I was dealing with two potentially correct bombshells.

There was an era in my lifetime where “black midget” would have been acceptable. On one website where I looked up the politically correct term one person who was a “short person” said that the word midget referred to a circus performer commonly referred to as a freak and was offensive. However, I was confused since the actual person to whom I had referred to was a “freak” performer at a circus, so I am not sure if that does allow for the term midget or not.

As far as the use of “African-American,” I read Whoopi Goldberg’s book where she wrote that she resented the term “African-American” because she felt she had earned the right to be just an American and not a hyphenated title. So I don’t know how in print I am to differentiate race and be totally acceptable to all people of color. (For clarification, Associated Press style says to use “black” instead of “African-American.”)

So to anyone whom I might already have offended, forgive my confusion over how to even address the main focus of this column. I am already sure my editor will need therapy when editing this piece to fit the acceptable terminology to even appear in print today. I was probably so much easier for Dear Abby in the 1950s.

Anyway, back to the subject at hand. Kim and I proceeded at that point to have one of those really emotional disagreements about people of color who were really short. It was one of those debates that was really not about the chosen subject matter at hand anyway. This was about a lifetime of being together and occasionally just being irritated by the other’s presence at precisely the wrong time.

All long-time, happily-married couples know exactly what I am writing about, and you younger, wildly in lust couples don’t have a clue. I am pretty sure it is not politically correct to even inquire of gay and lesbian couples have the same issues in their relationships. I don’t even know if they like to be called gay anymore, as I haven’t seen much current news this past week.

Let me assure you that neither Kim or I had any idea whatsoever just how many short people of color there are in the world or what percentage of short people were black, or Asian or Argentinian for that matter.

However, we not only continued this discourse to that point where every emotional disagreement between a husband and wife ends up — we went to the Internet to do some research to prove who is right and who is wrong. This was, of course, after we had both gotten to the point of defending our individual points of view by stating stupid facts for which there was no logical basis of support.

Have you ever gotten to the point where you say something that is so stupid that even you don’t believe it but continue to argue the point?

Anyway, the very small amount of time I did computer research simply verified one thing for me. Just how many short people of color there are in the world hasn’t gotten all that many research dollars for study.

It was soon apparent that so few people argue about this that even the United States Congress has not appropriated any tax dollars to set up a foundation to do the research. And they once funded a study that determined that dieting hamsters preferred food over sex. I can only imagine what Weight Watchers Inc., will do with that little gem of information.

Kim did eventually go to bed and I sat up a while snickering at the discussion that had preceded bedtime. If only we had been drinking whiskey and driving a pickup truck when this had occurred, I am pretty sure Kenny Chesney could have written a pretty big country hit song about us. How about this for a title — “She Was a Pretty Little Thing but She Was Never Short on Love.”

— Lindon Dodd is a freelance writer who can be reached at