Acromegaly

Had a cousin, Elbert, was a giant. Didn’t mind being called a giant; he was about eight feet tall, give or take an inch. He wasn’t above complaining about being a giant, mind, and a family reunion was always a countdown till he smashed his head on some ceiling-hung obstruction. A chandelier in a discount diner couldn’t account for acromegaly, but it wasn’t Elbert’s fault either. He was obligated to carry on in a world whose gravity, and shirts and shoes, and women, by and large, were tailored for lighter, lesser men.

For a little while Elbert held a good job as a movie extra, now and then with a speaking role, when the background called for tormented creatures. He always looked very intimidating, though Elbert, on account of his size, spent most of his time sitting and reading. It was one of the few things he could do that didn’t frighten people. Elbert complained that he frightened people.

He died young. Giants do. He did a damn decent thing for his folks by buying his own casket with his movie money, and even figured out how to get a forklift onto the cemetery grounds to unload him. A few years before he died he told me he thought of donating his bones to science, but science had never figured out a way to shrink him to a less painful stature, so they could go soak their heads. They weren’t getting him dead or alive.

“You think God’s gonna be as big as you, when you get up to heaven?” I asked.

“He better be big,” said Elbert. “He better be big, and look like Cary Grant, and dance like Fred Astaire, and smile like Groucho Marx.”

“All that?” I said.

“How else is he gonna show me how to do all that? I’d look damn silly if I tried that stuff down here.”

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