A Club Just For Tall People

January 19, 1993|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,Staff Writer

The short person says to the tall person: "Do you pla basketball?"

The tall person retorts: "No, do you play miniature golf?"

Take that, squatty body.

Members of the Baltimore Tall Club do retaliate occasionally to those height-impaired people whom they sometimes label "squatty bodies." After all, they've been stared at, made fun of, called "Giraffe," "Too Tall," "Eiffel Tower" and names worse than those.

The Baltimore Tall Club? Haven't heard of it? Maybe it's over your head.

It's over most heads.

The Baltimore Tall Club is a social club for tall people. Male members must stand at least 6-feet-2 in their stocking feet, female members at least 5-feet-10.

The club's tallest male member is 6-feet-8, the tallest female 6-feet-2.

"When you tell somebody you belong to the Baltimore Tall Club," says Stephen Jones, who is 6-feet-5, "they think you're absolutely crazy. 'Come on, you're pulling my leg.' " Not only is there a Baltimore Tall Club, but there are also about 50 other groups in the United States and Canada affiliated with Tall Clubs International. There are even tall clubs in Europe.

Baltimore's club has 50 members. Nine gathered recently at the Guest Quarters Suite Hotel in Linthicum to talk about the club. They say they joined to meet new people.

"And, boy, did I meet a great group of people," says Mr. Jones, a computer systems manager. "It was like I walked into my old family.

"I'd always wanted to be small, so I could walk in a regular store and buy clothes. But when I got into this club, I said, 'Yes, I'm home at last.' "

Of the 50 members, half are men, and half are women. They're 24 to 50 years old. Most are college-educated professionals -- engineers, doctor, nurses, a computer analyst, an accountant, managers and administrators.

"None of us sitting in this room would have occasion to meet except in this club," says Brad Black, the president, who is 6-feet-6.

Nancy Black, his 5-feet-10 wife, says she's seen new members, especially women, slouch into their initial meeting or social event. But after a get-together or two, she says, they stand erect. Women change from flats to heels.

Kelly Walker, a 6-foot flight attendant, often bends over, leans against something or sits down when talking with people so she won't tower over them.

"But when you get into this club," she says, "it's like, wow, there are people my height. There are people who wear clothes my size."

That is, of course, if they can find clothes that fit. That's a problem, especially for the women. Anna Moore, 5-feet-10 1/2 , is writing a column for the club newsletter about where to buy clothes.

Mr. Black, the president, wears a 58 extra long suit. He moved here from Milwaukee.

"I usually go back and shop where the Green Bay Packers shop," he says.

These are people who have been tall a long time.

Jim Foti, 6-feet-4 1/2 , says he was taller than his teacher in first grade. Ms. Walker was mistaken for a teacher in high school.

"I'd walk in the bathroom and everybody'd hide their cigarettes," she says. " 'You're the new teacher, aren't you?' 'No, I'm only a junior!' "

Hunter Fowler, 6-feet-2, reached his full height at 14. So many people told him he ought to play basketball that he finally joined the team. He became the statistician.

"I was very good at numbers," he says. "But I was terrible at basketball."

Most members of the Baltimore Tall Club are single, but 12 are married -- intermarried, actually. Five couples met in this club, and the other met in a tall club in Milwaukee.

Members stress this isn't a dating club. But it's certainly an affable group.

Club functions include four happy hours a month at different bars, one party at a member's house and a couple of other events such as camping and whitewater rafting, cookouts or a day at the horse track.

The club also mans a rest stop at the Multiple Sclerosis Society's annual two-day bike tour, answers telephones during Maryland Public Television pledge drives and raises money for the National Marfan Foundation. Marfan syndrome is a genetic disorder that causes unusual tallness and multiple medical problems, including a potentially fatal heart defect.

The club celebrates its 14th anniversary Saturday with a dinner and dance at the Guest Quarters Suite Hotel. The affair is open to the public, regardless of height. For information about the dance or the club, call (410) 243-3222.

You can be sure that the 6-foot-5 Mr. Jones will be there. Before joining the Baltimore Tall Club, he says, he'd had his fill of dancing with women who came up to his chest.

"You walk in a room now, and these women are 6 feet," he says. "It's like, yes, I'm in heaven."

Actually, says Kathy Foti, 5-feet-11, what the tall club does is remove height as an issue. The members, all their lives, have stood out in a crowd.

But now, in the tall club, they're not different anymore.

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