The Weather Up There? A Whirlwind.

George Bell Jr., 50, a Norfolk sheriff's deputy, does what he has done for much of his life: answer questions about what it's like to be 7-foot-8.
George Bell Jr., 50, a Norfolk sheriff's deputy, does what he has done for much of his life: answer questions about what it's like to be 7-foot-8. (Photos By Joy Lewis -- The Virginian-pilot)
By Fredrick Kunkle
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 10, 2007

Maybe the questions will stop now that George Bell Jr. has achieved some recognition as the tallest living person in the nation.

But here, culled from a lifetime of FAQs put to him by strangers in restaurants or movie theaters or just about anywhere the Norfolk sheriff's deputy ventures into public, are some answers:

1. He stands 7-foot-8 with his shoes off.

2. He plays basketball, or at least used to, but not in the NBA.

3. He is not Wilt "the Stilt" Chamberlain.

4. His late father and his mother were not giants, just folks of average height.

5. The weather "up there" is just fine.

Finally, he would like you to know that he has no idea, at least in a philosophical sense, how he got to be so tall. But he suspects it has to do with a crazed pituitary gland.

After a lifetime of attracting stares, bumping his head, sleeping diagonally on hotel beds and folding his legs like pipe cleaners to fit on airplanes, Bell, 50, has been at the center of a media whirlwind this week. After Guinness World Records singled him out as the tallest living man in the United States, Bell appeared Thursday on "Good Morning America," and the Norfolk Sheriff's Office held a news conference yesterday.

And the questions kept coming: What is his shoe size? (19.) His inseam? (43 inches.) What kind of car does he drive, and is it true that he removed the front seats and drives from the back seat? (A Nissan Altima, and, no, he did not modify the vehicle because he hopes to resell it.)

Bell, whose basso voice seems to be coming from somewhere seven feet below his toes, took it all in stride.

"Seeing the smiles and the recognition of the people who know me and people who've never seen me -- it was just amazing," Bell said.


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