One of my favorite Twitter feeds is Ned Rolsma’s @imsevenfeet, which is filled with tweets about people’s reactions to his height (and, often, his responses). Some recent ones:
“Excuse me! HEY! Do u play basketball?” – 2 ladies behind me in #UnionStation. “HELLLOOOO!” Blew em off, didn’t wanna assume they meant me.
“Hey, if we need to get anything up high we can just grab him!” – guy in Toys r Us, to lady at other end of aisle. #BlackFriday
Ned — an actor who got his broadcast journalism degree from the University of Tennessee a decade ago — tells me he came up with the idea of tweeting reactions to his height about three years ago.
I was going through a stretch where I carried a bit of a bad attitude about the barrage of “HTRU?”s & other height related remarks that follow me anytime I walk out the front door. I became overly self-conscious and took the constant attention and scrutiny very personally; generally feeling picked on, mocked, and made fun of. A good friend of mine suggested I do something fun and creative with it; make a game of it, as sort of a therapeutic way to disengage from taking it all too seriously and to share with people the litany of comments and reactions I get that run the gamut from warm, genuine, and kind, to hilarious and off-the-wall, to rude, ignorant, and thoughtless.
He says “people of all varieties and walks-of-life” bring up his height. “Boy, if I had a nickel for every ‘It’s good to be tall!’ I hear, and I find that fascinating,” he tells me in email. “It’s something I want to get to the bottom of and maybe shine a light in there, help people get past it and the other apparent ‘differences’ we have between us, and shift the focus back to that which makes us all exactly the same.”
I asked him about his growth pattern, and when he hit 7 feet.
I grew about 4 inches per year through high school, like clockwork. Very evenly, I didn’t experience one summer where I shot up, like other kids. And no growing pains, either. My parents made marks on the wall in our kitchen for my 2 brothers, my sister, and me until mine outgrew the 6’7” doorway and had to go up the wall on the other side!
I started 9th grade at 6’0”, 10th at 6’4”, 11th at 6’8”, 12th at 6’11”-ish, and I grew another inch-and-half or so between my freshman and soph. years in college, at age 18. Many doubters ask if I’m “exactly” 7ft, and the answer is officially yes (as long as I see my chiropractor regularly . I point to two concrete examples – I measured slightly more than 84” barefoot at the NBA Developmental League Draft combine in Fall 2002 and 3 years ago at a laser exhibit at the California Science Center.
Are there comments he’s kept off his Twitter feed?
Yes, but not because of content. I’m not shy about Tweeting risqué or colorful comments (I AM a loyal [Howard] Stern fan, after all! And sometimes they’re the best ones!), however I did avoid sharing some remarks from my friend’s recent bachelor party, including one adult entertainer who thrice yelled “Yao Ming!” across the club at me as I walked past, and one who bluntly wondered aloud if my manhood was proportional to the rest of my physique!
Has he heard from other 7-footers who’ve read his tweets?
Yes. I was asked to join the “Tall Club” of L.A./Orange County, but quite frankly I do not wish to associate with groups or entities that exclude people based on apparent differences – that includes religions, social clubs, governments, etc. I seek to bridge differences and cancel dualities, not celebrate them.