She had just finished listening to Randy Newman's [WORD ILLEGIBLE] funny song about short people - Short People Got No Reason to Live" - when it occurred to her that she had never actually been short.

To be more precise about it, the shortest she'd ever been in her entire life was Tall for Her Age, which isn't the same thing at all.

In a youth that was lined up by height, she was always at the end. Even for posterity she was locked into the backrow of every class picture.

When she was an adolescent, everyone else had busily diverted his inches into diverting places. But she used them all up just to connect the ankle bone to the thigh bone. It wasn't that she was "really tall," explained the best friend (of average height), it was just that she had these long legs. For years she tried to think of herself as a basically averaged-sized person who had been trapped on stilts. It didn't help.

She finally grew from being Tall for Her Age to being Tall for Any Age. She did this at the worst possible moment, just as she looked around and discovered boys. What she discovered was that they were shorter. In high school, of course, romance hinged on whether a boy and girl saw eye to eye - not to mention shoulder to shoulder. And so, she spent four years sitting down.

When she absolutely had to stand up - to walk for instance - she learned how to do it with her left hip dropped, her right foot extended, her shoulders hunched and her head tilted to the left. All of this made her look like an abnormal person of a normal height.

Now, when she wasn't executing this feat, she did spend a great deal of time with "platonic" friends. Platonic friends were, by definition, men shorter than she.

In colledge, the yardstick by which her eligibility was measured was still a yardstick. Or, rather, two yardsticks. The men she was "fixed up with" came dribbling into her life off of various basketball courts and then went dribbling out again to marry the 5-foot-2 pom-pom girl. To this day, she has an abiding hostility toward the short girls who "used up" the tall boys.

The one time she found her vertical match - at someone she could look up to from three-inch heels! - he was interest only in a horizontal match. Of course, there were some advantages in being tall. No one ever described her as cute, perky or a ball of fun. But in those days, she wanted to be cute, perky and a ball of fun.

Instead, people used to tell her, "With your height, you can carry it." Sometimes "it" was a trunk. Other times "it" was an extra 20 - pounds - 10 for each hip. But usually it was something atrocious, like a voluminous maroon mohair cape that made her look like a moulting Abominable Snowman.

Tall for her age, she was harder to match with clothes than with mates. In shops, salesladies ended up accusing her of having knees that were incurable exhibitionists. She was told that it was her fault. Why weren't her parts in the right places?

In her darkest fantasies brought on shopping trips, she always envisioned Seventh Avenue being run by one cutter who had come straight from a cave in Transylvania for the express purpose of making every dress pattern in America fit his warped mannequin.

But, no matter what Randy Newman said, it wasn't the fault of short people. No, it was the mathematical dictator, the Average Person, who insisted on running the world according to his measurement.

Now, however, she was learning to accept herself, inch by inch. She was still Tall for Her Age, but her (short) mother had always told her, "When you grow up, you'll love being tall."

She probably will.