I spotted an old friend sitting in the diner behind a huge chocolate sundae yesterday. I hadn’t seen him in years, but I recognized him immediately. He still resembled Dom LeLuise, the late comedian, but there was something different about him, his expression or his posture…..something.

“Al, old man,” I said. “Where the heck have you been?” He looked embarrassed and mumbled something about working on a project. “Apparently, a long term project, Al. Something in your line? You’re a chemist, right?”

“Yes, but I’ve branched out. It’s a combination of chemistry, endocrinology and gymnastics. It’s quite a long story.”

“I’ve got plenty of time, Al. I’ll buy you another dessert and you can tell me your long story.” I slid into the booth across from him.

“Actually I’ve wanted to tell it to someone who might believe it. It started with a visit to my wisecracking doctor. I’d gone for advice about my obesity problem and he said I could either start dieting seriously or get tall enough where my weight would be appropriate for my height. He checked a chart and said, ‘That’d be about seven feet.’ And then he laughed raucously at his little joke. It was a very hurtful remark to make to a desperate patient. I got up and left , ignoring his shouted apology.

“I realized then I was on my own. I tried all the diet and exercise clubs, but I lacked the resolve and eventually dropped out of their boring meetings and painful calisthenic classes. Then one day I remembered my doctor’s insensitive joke and began to understand it was my last resort.”

“You mean about getting taller? Al, that’s not possible at your age.”

“I discovered it is possible. There are medications to fire up our pituitary glands and human growth hormones, banned in some professional sports because they provide unfair physical advantages. Stretching yoga exercises can actually lengthen our spines. I’m working on a pineal gland idea that may also be a source of added growth.”

Al was getting worked up and customers were beginning to look our way. I tried to add some humor to calm him down. “Don’t forget the medieval rack, Al. That can add a few inches to your length.”

“I haven’t forgotten it, at all,” he growled. “I’ve got a painless version on my drawing board now.” He was leaving in a huff. He started to get up….and up ….and up. He had to stoop to clear a chandelier and get through the diner’s door. I watched out the window as he drove away in an SUV. I knew that was him because his head was sticking out of the sun roof.

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