Note: one day in late 1995 I got a phone call from England.A writer heard of my
fanzine Giant and Tiny People--which is no longer available-- and wanted to interview me about it. The article was
published in early 1996 and had a promotional picture of Scott Carey, two inches tall, standing on a hand.|
DELIGHT FROM A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE--Stephen Jarvis talks to a man who gets
high on imagining he's suddenly short
It strikes me that you could put yourself in the right mood with a magnifying glass.You just look at the world through the lens--and try to imagine that the reason everything is larger is because you have gotten smaller. Though some people find themselves thinking along these lines without optical aids...
"...I'm pretty happy with my current height of 5 ft. 10 inches," says Bob Nelson, a 33-year-old American who works as a postal sorter, "but I'll often wake up in the morning and think about what it would be like if I'd shrunk to 6 inches tall. I mean, how would you react if you suddenly saw your cat as bigger than a house?
"Or what if you were 60 feet tall, so that you saw an elephant as small as a mouse?" With these words, he does something that a psychiatrist--a shrink-- could only marvel at.He converts a tiny man's fears into an instant sense of power. Then he suggests a third possibility, less extreme but with anxieties all its own.
"Or suppose," he says, "someone suddenly became the size of an 8-year-old child. Suppose I woke up and found I'd gone from 5'10" to 4'2"..."
He describes a world in which his clothes are now far too big; where light switches and doorknobs are higher than before; where he has to go on tiptoe to reach things; where 12-year-olds tower over him like basketball stars. Then,he puts forward one final scenario.
"Or, what if you actually are an 8-year-old child, only you're over 6 feet tall--how would you convince a bus driver that you have the right to travel half-fare? We're so used to seeing our world from an everyday perspective--it's exciting to see it from a different and bizarre viewpoint."
But is it only for the excitement that he thinks like this? He admits that personal circumstances might be a factor in this fascination with altering human dimensions. "I weigh 280 lbs.," he says. That's 20 stone. "And I'd like to be thinner. So yes,that's probably part of the reason for being interested in changing my size."
For Bob, this has now gone beyond a mental game.Last year, he launched Giants and Little People , a specialist newsletter. (NOTE:No longer available) The main aim of the newsletter is to explore literature,movies, and TV shows in which people are scaled up or down. The classic example is Gulliver's Travels which Bob first read at school at the age of nine. "One thing that struck me," he remarks, "is that when Gulliver goes to Brobdingnag he sees how ugly the giants are up close--and he realises that HE must have looked ugly to the Liliputians."
The theme is also covered in such movies as Honey I Shrunk the Kids , the 1989 Disney film in which an inventor creates a device which accidentally shrinks his children to 1/4 of an inch tall. They are unknowingly swept into the trash and find themselves in the yard...where they are attacked by scorpions and end up flying on a bee's back. Other films of a similar nature include The Attack of the 50-Foot Woman, The Amazing Colossal Man , and The Incredible Shrinking Man . The most recent addition to the genre is a movie now on general release, The Indian in the Cupboard , featuring a three-inch Red Indian brave.
A quick browse through Bob's newsletter shows just how many other examples there are. The TV series The Twilight Zone , for instance, features several ingenious twist-in-the tale versions of the genre. In the episode "The Invaders", a lonely farm woman is terrorised by tiny alien invaders...who turn out to be US astronauts--thus, she is a giant alien woman! While in the episode "The Little People", two astronauts land on a planet whose inhabitants are no bigger than ants. One of the astronauts decides to become a god to the tiny natives--but is later squashed by two GIANT astronauts who land on the planet.
Television commercials also use the genre. You will know of the Jolly Green Giant but you many not be familiar with an advertisement for American restuarant chain TGI Friday, which feature a 4-inch man. Standing next to some shrimps he says: "These are called 'Cajun Angels', because they know I hate the word 'shrimp'."
Bob and I have been talking on the telephone for some time when I suddenly recall a character from childhood comics, the Atom, who possessed the power to shrink to sub-atomic size--which was very useful, because it enabled him to travel anywhere via an open telephone line, riding on the beam of electrons that connected one receiver to another: "If one of us could shrink like that,we could have talked in person," I say.Bob has one interesting perspective on telephones:
"It always used to bother me in the TV series Land of the Giants when the little people were speaking on the phone to a giant. The little person's voice would have been like a whisper . I mean,if a 6-inch person talked to you over the phone, would you understand?"
LONDON DAILY TELEGRAPH, JANUARY 1996