By Duff McKagan
If you've seen me at any rock shows over the past few years, you will notice that I wear the same jeans at every gig. As a matter of fact, I wear those pants everywhere: to the grocery store, on the plane, to the kids' school . . . and to weddings. I had them custom-made. Not because I'm the kind of guy who needs to be the only one on his block with his pair of jeans. For the life of me, I cannot find a pair of pants in the store that will fit. Trust me, I've tried.
I am somewhere in between average and big-and-tall, I suppose. Nothing at either store seems to fit. It makes me feel all alone sometimes when I go to a clothing store only to find nothing in my pant size. I mean, when was the last time you saw a pair of 32/36s hanging on the racks? This, my friends, is the problem with being tall.
I'm not sure what the average adult height is, but I am most positive that it is much shorter than my 6'3". Why am I so sure of this? Well, because for most of my life I have had to stoop to grab something off of a countertop, desktop, or grocery check-out counter. Things that are meant for an average height have been much too low for me for many years now. I must constantly strengthen my back and keep it limber.
Now I am not one to complain about my lot in life. I'm well aware that things could most certainly be a whole hell of a lot worse. I have all my arms and legs and fingers and toes. My intellect and sanity are mostly intact and in working order. I have two children, so obviously all that stuff works, too. No, I am not complaining. I just have a few items that I want to throw out there:
I'm not looking down on you, I swear. Eye contact is polite, and I am a firm believer in it. But over the years my neck has started to ache from looking down most of the time. My work predestines that I must stand most of the time and "rock out" with my other band members. Over the years, only Jeff Rouse and Mike Squires of Loaded have been near tall enough for me to look straight in the eye onstage. About 12 years ago, Mark Lanegan, Ben Sheppard, Mike Johnson, and I were going to form a band together for the simple fact that we were all tall. It sounds funny now, but we were serious about it then. If you are the only tall guy in a band, you run the risk of looking goofy if you're hunched over all the time.
I'm not trying to kick the back of your seat, I swear. I am THAT guy you will see on those Alaska Airlines flights from Los Angeles to Seattle. You know, the guy in seat 9C who looks miserable as they are serving snacks. Miserable because the tray is too low to lay out flat when it is fully pulled out of its vestibule! I am also that grumpy guy whose knees are completely bruised after the person in front of him decides to recline their seat. I always wonder what the guys in the NBA do when they fly? What does Krist Novoselic do? He is a good 4 inches taller than me!
I really am not a slouch. I know we have all seen those tall people out there whose postures have become perma-hunches (for some of the reasons that I have just named). So I have been faced with the quandary of standing tall without seeming like I am sticking out like a sore thumb. How do tall people keep their heads up when making conversation in public? How will I "bend at the knees" for all that I do now, when my legs get too weak in my 80s and 90s? I want to stand tall for sure, but I still want to fit in.
Officer, if you weren't a short unhappy fellow, you'd be speeding, too. My legs are fucking long, but my arms are not proportionate. I must play an ongoing game of seat and wheel adjustment so that my back doesn't get too sore from stooping forward so that my hands can rest at the 10 and 2 positions, or so my legs don't get too cramped when I bring the seat forward to save my back. If I had to be a truck driver for a living and do long hauls, I'd be a cripple in no time for sure.
I married up! My wife is 5'11" and our daughters are very tall for their ages. At least in my home, we can all fit in together. My wife modeled for a living for a long time, and it is only in that career (and some sports) that you can actually make a living because of your height. When she picked me up at Burbank Airport for our first blind date, it was marvelous to be able to look her in the eyes without craning my neck. It still is!
I'm not sure why we have such small dogs, though. That is a study for a whole other column. I'm going to take some Advil now ...