Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Shrinking Violence 11/4/09

You don’t hear any references to midgets for years, and then three come along together.

I was re-watching Martin McDonagh’s brilliant In Bruges, which is one of my favourite films of all time, and which features a midget - Canadian actor Jordan Prentice – who gives rise to some of the funniest quotes from hit-man Ray (Colin Farrell).

Then I was reading American comedian Chelsea Handler’s book, My Horizontal Life, in which she describes the various men she has been to bed with – one of whom happened to be a midget.

And then, this week, I was trying to dodge the traffic to get to the Beverly Centre on La Cienega, and a motorist leaned out of his window and yelled: “Idiot midget!”

At first I was most offended by the “idiot” part of the abuse. Cars in Los Angeles are allowed to run anyone down at anytime, because although the white man on the sign is technically telling pedestrians to cross, motorists can ignore it at their leisure.

When four lanes and about half a dozen feeder roads choose to ignore it at the same time, making it to your destination without losing a limb becomes something of an achievement.

So I was not being an idiot. I was doing what the little white man was telling me to do (ie cross the road), and it was hardly my fault if the people in the cars chose to ignore the possibility that someone might wish to take up his offer.

Then the “midget” bit started to bother me. I haven’t been called a midget since my schooldays. When I was in my early teens, Bridget the Midget was in the charts, which was a disaster for small people everywhere.

I had survived my primary schooldays being called Titch, after the children’s ventriloquist show, Titch and Quackers (a small boy and his pet duck – how we laughed), and also Short Arse; but Bridget stuck with a few people, most notably Robin Davies.

I met him a couple of years ago and reprimanded him for ruining my youth, but, quelle surprise, he had no recollection of it.

In one fell swoop, “midget” brought back those painful years, and I felt quite tearful. Also, I am not a midget; I am five feet tall, which to a midget is a giant.

But I have discovered that LA is a very size-ist place – although not where men are concerned.

If you are a man with money and/or success, it doesn’t matter if you are two feet or ten feet tall; but all the women seem to be over six feet, which is just as well, given the gargantuan breasts they have to carry around.

I recently met Verne Troyer, the famous American actor (actually, that’s four recent midget connections – weird!) who appeared in the UK’s I’m a Celebrity . . . Get Me Out of Here! last year.

I was introduced to him by La Toya Jackson, to whom I had given up my seat on an Air New Zealand flight to LA. Verne is just two feet eight, and when I excitedly approached to introduce myself, he shrank to about 12 inches in terror, as if in an effort to disappear altogether at this strange giant’s advances.

Nobody, I suspect, calls Verne an idiot midget when he attempts to cross a road; but then maybe he has tall people to carry him.

As a small woman, however, I stand out as a bit of a freak – or so I keep being told, albeit couched in less offensive terms. I have been called “unique”, “interesting”, “sweet”, “different”, and when I went looking for a new apartment, all the potential landlords expressed worry over cupboard height and recommended stores where I might be able to purchase a set of steps to help me reach the top shelves.

I have been told that I can capitalise on this uniqueness, though so far I am finding it hard to see precisely how. I suppose I could put myself forward in Hollywood to play Verne’s tall girlfriend, but then from everything I’ve seen, he has a preference for women over six feet, too.

With Christmas coming up, there must be shortage of elves somewhere (unless Verne’s mates have already nabbed all the best jobs); and if Stephen Spielberg ever decides to do ET II, with the actor inside the prosthetics no longer with us I might be able to audition for that – although Verne will probably nab that one for himself.

No, unless they are planning on making Gulliver’s Travels starring Welsh midgets invading Lilliputia, it seems that I am going to have to be content to live my LA life out on a limb – or separated from it, if I keep encountering the drivers like the ones on La Cienega.

Idiot giants.

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