I was talking with my best friend Ed, who has been along on my journey through life since we met back in 1962. He brought up some of my stories and wondered why the guy was always tall, strong, and talented. What about a Big Girl story?
And here is the Story that came from that conversation. Any resemblance to people living or dead, are purely coincidental! Thanks Ed!
Here we go:
For the hundredth time Bridgett regretted being born into a family who’s last name was Bird. She didn’t mind her first name at all. When she was a little girl (which, unfortunately only lasted until Fourth Grade) she thought her nickname based on her initials was cute: BeeBee. Almost everyone at School called her BB, and she loved it. Until…
Fourth grade was her last year with a normal nickname. Maybe that is why most of her fond memories of her childhood stopped that summer between fourth and fifth grade. Because when school started up again in September for her fifth year of school, she was taller than any one else. None of the eighth grade boys came up to her six foot one inch frame. By the time she was in Eighth Grade, she finally stopped growing. At just a shade over six foot six inches tall.
From Fifth Grade onwards her nickname became…yep, you guessed it: Big Bird. They even made her dress in a Yellow Big Bird Costume for her Eighth Grade Play. “Come on Big Bird, be a good sport.” She wore that costume …once. She swore she would never wear anything yellow ever again. “Be a good sport” was a chant that she couldn’t turn off as she lay in her room that night, tears of humiliation and pain streaming down her face.
She had no one to comfort her. The boys were intimidated by her, the girls she knew couldn’t even go shopping with her. She had to go the Big and Tall store to buy clothes, and the selection was slim at best. So for most of her school days Bridgette wore sweat pants, sweat shirts, and tennis shoes.
High School was worse. Everyone wanted her to play on the Basketball team. She wanted to play the Piano. She played Basketball. The chant followed her onto the court. Hundreds of good natured kids chanting:
“Give the ball to Big Bird. Shoot Big Bird. Way to go Big Bird.” Not Bridgette. Not BB. Not “you go girl.” No. Every chant was go Big Bird. The opposing teams had photoshopped her head onto Big Bird’s feathered body- with saying like: “Big Birds can’t Fly.” Or; “Bigger the bird, the bigger the egg they will lay.” She would go home from a game without hearing any of the accolades about her playing, just the lousy chant playing over and over again in her head:
“Big Bird. Big Bird. Big Bird.”
The tears would come again. Alone in her room - the humiliation would surge up in waves: “Big Bird. Big Bird. Big Bird. “ She would cry herself to sleep. No one to comfort or listen to her sadness. No one understood what it was like to be as different as she was. She hated being so tall. So strong. So fast.
Ed was one of the guys graced with natural talent with any kind of ball. He could whistle a baseball by your head at eighty five miles an hour, and also throw one from the Right Field Fence all the way to Home Plate without a cutoff man. He could throw a football forty yards in the air, and kick it thru the uprights at about the same distance. He could dribble a basketball, or use his feet to dribble a soccer ball. He could bowl, play ping pong, or pool. Tennis and Golf could have been potential Professions for him, but he just fiddled with those games.
Unfortunately for Ed, he was short. To short to start... according to the Baseball and Basketball coaches who cut the much more talented Ed, for taller but less gifted athletes. It didn’t bother Ed. He liked his five foot five frame- heck, he had had it since eighth grade. He was used to it.
He liked surprising other players in pick up games in different sports with his abilities. He might be the last guy picked the first time you met him, after that, well you picked him first. That made his shy smile linger on his face long after the game was over.
He didn’t date a lot. He was to busy with sports and school work. Then he bought his first car his Senior year…and that kept him busy tweaking it to run like a Swiss Clock. It was a Sixty Three Camaro, and it could fly. He loved that car and had no idea it would change his life.
His High School didn’t have a big parking lot. He wanted to practice donuts on the snow covered pavement- so he went over to the Westlake HighSchool parking lot. He could skid for half a mile in that parking lot and not hit a thing. Even if he skidded off the asphalt, he would just slide for another couple hundred yards on their practice Soccer Fields. He was excited (and nervous) to see what his car could do on snow - maybe even on some patches of ice.
He had made a slow circle of the parking lot to make sure there weren’t any hidden fences, gulches or barriers to rip off a bumper, or break loose a muffler. That is when he saw her for the first time. She was carrying a big duffel bag slung over one shoulder and walking out of the gym to the path that led over to the main street.
The snow was falling lightly and she was going in and out of shadows cast by the big street lamps surrounding the parking lot. That hindered him from getting a good look at her. But her body leaked sadness and aloneness, he could see that in her gait. her head hung down as she shuffled through the snow. She got closer and he saw her face from an angle. He stopped breathing.
“My. God. Is she an Angel?”
Was his first thought. Ed had never seen a six foot six Valkyrie with such exotic features. Her face had a slightly Oriental look to it, with high cheekbones, folded eyes, and red hair. The red hair set off the green eyes like an emerald and ruby fighting for your attention. They sure had Ed’s attention.
He was transfixed. She was walking on the sidewalk next to the Parking lot now. Ed slowed his car to a walk, pulling slowly along side her. He beeped his horn gently, reaching across to roll the window down with the hand crank. She stopped and looked at him without really seeing him inside the car.
“Are you okay?”
She heard the words. She didn’t recognize the voice. She did recognize the tone though…her Mom used it often enough. Whoever was in that car wasn’t asking if she was okay, he was really asking: “What’s bothering you?”
For some reason she could never really explain- she answered him honestly.
“No. I hate being tall. I hate being a girl. I hate my nickname.”
He made her laugh with the first words she ever heard from him… a quiet steady male voice coming out from inside the car that said:
“Well, I like tall girls, and I am glad you are one. I don’t know your nickname so I don’t know if I like that or not.”
She had reached his car by now, so she bent over to look in. It was a boy. A good looking boy with straight hair, a clean face, an athletic light build, and brown warm eyes. He had a smile that was just a whisker away from being a smirk. She liked him instantly.
“My nickname is Big Bird.” There. She said it. The worst part of her existence was being called Big Bird. And here she had gone and told it to a complete stranger. A boy. A boy her own age. She waited for the laughter. For the wink and nod and the unsaid: “Well that makes sense doesn’t it?” comment to come. He was looking right at her…God, she could swim in the warmth of those brown eyes. For a moment, she let herself believe that she could. His eyes grew wide.
“Why the heck would someone call you that? It must hurt like hell. “
She knew right then that he was different than all the rest of the boys she knew. He was hurting for her…she could see it in those warm brown eyes. She let herself swim in them for a minute. It was a luxury she rarely granted herself. To indulge in flirting with someone you like. All the boys she knew (and a quiet a few men too) just had a kinky thing for a big body. Once the novelty wore off, they weren’t interested anymore.
This was different.
“What would you call me?”
“I don’t know. What’s your name?”
“Then I would call you…Bridgette. My Bridgette.”
Her heart, having beat for years without beating for anyone else, started pounding in her chest. Was he teasing? Was he trying to pick her up? Or was he just being kind?
“Isn’t calling me “My Bridgette” a little forward?”
She said it halfheartedly, but not offhandedly. Fully half her heart was waiting for some kind of reply.
“I am sorry. I didn’t mean to offend you. But any guy lucky enough to date you would want to keep you. You would be my Bridgette until you didn’t want to be. “
His smile, always just a sliver away from a smirk, was glowing even in the cold. She had been talking to this boy for ten minutes, and he had yet to ask her how tall she was. If she played basketball. Was she going to go to the WNBA…or where she finds clothes that fit. He was looking at her like she was…well, just a girl.
She almost fainted from the release of having to be anything other than just a girl.
“Why don’t you get in the car? It is freezing out there. We can go for a ride together.”
This time his smile had slid almost off his face - it was as smirk filled with hope.
Reality came crashing back down on her. She mumbled the words she had to say way to often.
“I am to tall to fit in most cars. I’m sorry. Thanks tho. “
She turned to walk away. She heard a beep and turned back.
“Bridgette, this is a 1963 Camaro. It is a Sports Car. I can move the front seat all the way back until it touches the back seat. Believe me, you will have plenty of leg room. Let me show you. “
He put the car in neutral, pulled up the emergency break to hold it in place and went around to her side of the car. As he got closer, he did notice she was taller than him. A lot taller. But what he looked at the most were her eyes. He loved those eyes.
She saw him get out of the car. She noticed he was short. But that was just an aside. He moved like a trained dancer, with that easy grace that comes with being a natural athlete. He was confident in a shy way, which she found deliciously attractive. What she focused on was his eyes. So brown. So warm. So inviting. So kind.
He came around to her side and opened the door, pulled the seat way back, and then with a wave like a Knight of old, stepped back a bit, and beckoned her to enter his chariot. She laughed - and he got his nickname from her at that very moment:
“Thank you my Little Knight. “ And forever more, when they were alone, that is what she called him. My little Knight. For he was.
She got in the car. To her surprise she had room to stretch her long long legs. With the seat angled back just one notch, her head didn’t even touch the ceiling. She was thrilled. He closed her door with such quiet elegance that she felt like - for the first time in her life- a Princess.
He got in his side gave her a wink and a quick smile that stayed right on the edge of becoming a smirk. He rubbed his hands together and blew on them a bit to warm them up. His eyes twinkling, he looked over and asked:
“Where do you want to go?’
“Where were you going?”
“Well, I was going to see what this baby can do on snow. (Patting the dashboard) I am hoping for some donuts, and maybe a few could slides. Then I was going to go to Dairy Queen and get a burger, fries, and a shake. I could just drive you home…or wherever you were going…if that is what you want.”
She couldn’t stop from smiling. She knew if she said; “Just take me home.” He would have. She didn’t want to go home. She didn’t want to go anywhere without him. She made a decision that would change her life.
“Well, I don’t know how to drive a stick. And I have never done a donut. But I am hungry. So why don’t we just do what you had planned.”
This time all the smirk was out of his smile. His smile had a gleam to it, that matched the shiny eyes he had. She wanted to see what it was like to spin in a car…so did he.
“Okay, buckle your seat belt. Hold on. And lets see what this baby can do.”
The engine roared to life. He shifted easily into gear, looked over at her with eagerness in his eyes:
“Are you ready Bridgette?”
Her gleam back matched his intensity of both excitement and anticipation.
She tapped his arm on the stick shift with one of her large supple hands:
“Let’s see what this baby can do. “
He hit the accelerator.
Twice they had to get out of the car to push it out of some deep snow. Both of them were exhilarated, excited, exhausted. Some of those spinouts would have made them toss their lunches. They laughed. They talked. They even screamed a few times coming dangerously close to a light pole, or two.
It was the most carefree hour she had ever had. As they headed out of the parking lot to go to DairyQueen she grew strangely quiet.
He sensed it immediately.
“Are you okay?”
“Have you ever been kissed?’
Her voice was so quiet. So shy. So filled with honesty, that he couldn’t help but lower his voice to meet the same level of intimacy hers had.
“ I played "catch em and kiss em” in eight grade once. That’s about it.”
She smiled a little kitten smile over at him.
“Did you catch any of them?”
He laughed a laugh that was mostly giggle.
“No. Those darn girls were fast!”
She laughed out loud.
She grew quiet again.
“I…I…have never been kissed.”
Ed didn’t answer with words. He let his lips do the talking. They laughed again when they realized they had fogged up all the windows. So they kissed again.
As they stood in line waiting to order, both of them were unaware of the stares they were getting from the folks in Dairy Queen. She was holding his hand. He was holding hers. Just before she ordered her food a thought crossed her mind:
Love makes everyone the same height.
He must have read her mind, because her heart leaped with joy when the girl behind the counter said: