small fears

Originally published April 6, 2007

Those that know me can attest that among my many foibles is an irrational fear of midgets. Yes, the little people, they frighten me. I’ve felt this way for some time now. I can’t seem to pinpoint any particular incident that may have caused this phenomenon. I was never tortured by a dwarf or sexually assaulted by mini-Kiss, but the phobia is real nonetheless.

For the record, I have no ill will, prejudice toward or hatred of midgets. I respect all people irrelevant of physical features, race, gender, etc. This fear is not based in animosity or disrespect. I have seen many midgets achieve greater success than full size me will ever reach. It is as previously mentioned, an irrational fear.

Plain and simple…..they give me the willies in the same sense of the word people are frightened by clowns, or republicans.

With that in mind, I found myself in Downtown Royal Oak, Michigan recently. On my way to meet a friend for a drink , I parked in the public lot behind Little Tree Sushi and fed the meter accordingly. As I turned to walk towards Main street, out of the corner of my eye I noticed a figure the size and shape of someone smaller than I, much smaller. Upon further investigation it turned out to be a midget.

Standing directly in front of a parking meter, coins in hand, this gentleman was perhaps four foot tall. I did not see him drive up, or park, or get out of a car, but it was clear he drove there as he now stood primed to feed the Royal Oak economy one quarter at a time. The problem was that he couldn’t quite reach the coin slot in the meter.

By this point I had become transfixed – one part morbid curiosity, one part nearly wetting my pants. Had he noticed me noticing him I’m sure the situation would have become awkward, as I stood essentially in the middle of a row of parked cars, mouth agape, eyes awash in fascination. Fortunately we never made eye contact.

Several times he reached upwards towards the coin slot, which I would estimate was approx four and a half to five feet off the ground. Several times he failed to insert his coin. It was horrible to watch. Yet he maintained his composure, never cursing (at least not loud enough for me to hear), never stomping about in a tantrum like fashion. He examined the pole, as if to make sure it was actually that tall. He surveyed the ground, perhaps looking for a high spot, I don’t know. He stared at the meter, a slight hint of “fuck you” in his eyes.

It occurred to me at that moment that perhaps I should help. I, a man of above average height, could easily deposit coins into such a device. I had just done it in fact. That was the thought. I would grab my fear by the throat and squeeze the life out of it as I helped a midget feed a parking meter, here to fore banishing this silly psychosis once and for all.

On the other hand…..

He was a midget. As I mentioned, I am afraid of midgets. Never underestimate the power of fear my friends, especially the stupid kind.

Apart from this fear, I couldn’t help but wonder if it would be insulting to offer my services in this way. Would I be answered with an “I can do it asshole” and a smirk? Would I exacerbate the situation and create an equally uncomfortable environment?

By the time I pushed these thoughts aside and decided I should offer my help the gentleman had retrieved from his car a phonebook. Yes, a phonebook, friend of short people everywhere. He placed it in front of the meter, climbed the single step, deposited his change, and returned the phone book to his car – which on a side note was significantly nicer than mine.

I never saw him again. I think about him this day though. Was he an embassary of my subconscious sent to show me how silly my issues with midgets are? Is it possible I could dismiss this odd affliction and someday even be friendly with the smaller sect? Or was this just God punishing me for some small (no pun intended) karmic failure I committed? I’m inclined to believe it was a bit of all of the above.

Who knows? Grass grows. I hope he does too.

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