“I’ve shrunk an inch?” I croaked. “Yes,” she affirmed, bustling off to lead me to a severe, antiseptic cubicle where, clothed only in thin paper, I would await my turn with my doctor.
I sat gingerly atop the black pedestal-like piece of furniture provided in these types of environments. Like a Swiss army knife, you never knew what was going to pop out next: stirrups, sonogram equipment, exam lights, paper towel holders. I wondered if someday my doctor would pull out something better than the paper-towel-like robe that I kept clutching about my shivering form. Or maybe a coat! Now that would be nice. Or maybe it could turn into a rack and I could get my inch of height back.
My father always loved multi-purpose gadgets and I often speculated as to what he would think of one of these contraptions and what kind of alternate use he would come up with. Never into functional fixedness, he would have had a blast with this puppy.
I sat and contemplated my future. I’ve shrunk an inch, I thought, a whole inch! Terror seized me as I envisioned my future. The last time I was this height I was 13. Shivers ran down my spine.
Not too many years ago I wore spike heels to augment my diminutive stature. I gloried in reaching coffee cups, various Tupperware containers and coffee filters. But I hadn’t worn spike heels for years! I was afraid of falling off them and breaking a hip.
I’ve shrunk an inch! I was too short already. Now I’m closing in on my grandmother. Grandma Shiveley stood a whopping 4’9”. Remembering the story where she had to fetch a chair and climb on to it in order to box my father’s ears, I considered the ramifications. I mean, who was the dummy here, the person who thought their 21-year-old WWII veteran son would still be there after she dragged a chair across the room to cold cock him, or the son, who actually was?
It’s hopeless, I thought. Not only am I getting shorter, I’ve probably inherited some idiot tendencies as well!
I shivered with cold. My paper “robe” was barely covering the goose bumps that had formed all over my body. I’ve shrunk an inch! I thought wildly. And here I thought Chris was getting taller. I guess I’ll have to buy another growth chart, I reasoned. One going up for Chris, and one going down….
Various scenes ran through my trembling brain. Me, wearing an apron pinned to my housedress, wearing rolled up stockings and black “old lady” shoes, my gray hair sticking out of a bun resting upon my dowager hump.
Me, walking through the grocery store, my chin leading the way as I clutch the grocery cart like a walker.
I decided to calm down. Chuckling to myself, I decided that the doctor would probably come in, greet me as usual, and laugh at my terror in becoming the “incredible shrinking woman.”
There was a rap on the door. I called, “yes!” and she entered. “Oh my. I see you’ve shrunk an inch!”
Excerpt from Swinging Bridge