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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, January 22, 2002

Being the tall guy

By Tanya Bricking
Advertiser Staff Writer

John Orendt started his tall club to meet people who share similar experiences from their height.

Gregory Yamamoto • The Honolulu Advertiser

Where do you fit in?

6-foot-8 — Height of a standard door. Also the height of John Orendt, who sometimes he tells people he is 5-foot-20 just to let them do the math.

6-foot-2 — Minimum height for men to be eligible for membership in the Tall & Fit Club of O'ahu.

5-foot-10" — Height of the average man in the United States; average height of a supermodel; and minimum height for women to be eligible for membership in the Tall & Fit Club of O'ahu.

5-foot-4 — Height of the average American woman.

John Orendt admits he has a scheme to meet women.

He's starting a club.

But the requirements are pretty steep, especially by Hawai'i standards.

Women must be at least 5-foot-10 to be eligible, and men who want to join must be at least 6-foot-2.

So far, Orendt, who is 6-foot-8, is the only member of the Tall & Fit Club of O'ahu.

The 45-year-old computer software engineer is handing out business cards to those who might measure up.

He says it's more than a giant personal ad.

Married couples are welcome to join. Anyone who meets the height requirements can become a voting member of the group, part of a global network in Tall Clubs International, whose conventions bring the Tulsa Tip Toppers and Boston Beanstalks together.

This is a first for Hawai'i, where the average height is at least a foot below that of the 235-pound guy who drives a spacious Ford van, looks for pants with a 38-inch inseam, barely fits through doorways and is sick of being asked whether he plays basketball. (For the record, no, but he's pretty good at tennis.)

This is his attempt at finding a comfort zone in a world of short people — not that there's anything wrong with being short.

Some of his best friends are short.

"It's a relative thing," he said. "All my friends are short. Even the tall ones."

He hasn't told many of his friends about the club yet. But they might not qualify. He claims this is just a way to broaden his social circle.

"People in general feel a strong need to belong to something," he said, "and this may fill that void."

Lonely up there

But let's be frank. Orendt has a thing for tall women.

He doesn't discriminate. He once dated a 5-foot-3 woman.

Sometimes he'll dance with the short women at the Ocean Club at Restaurant Row. He dances on the floor level, and his partner usually goes to the upper-level dance floor to meet him eye to eye.

"My preferences are tall and thin," he said. "Unfortunately, that's the profile for supermodels. It makes it tough."

Orendt, a blue-eyed man with long blondish hair, a German heritage and a fondness for Australia, met his late wife in a tall club. He likes being around people who don't see his height as a curiosity.

He wants to meet people who understand the need to get to the movie theater early to find the seat with no seat in front of it. He wants to share the experience of begging flight attendants for the exit row.

He wants to shop for furniture with someone who knows how uncomfortable dinky chairs can be.

"One of the reasons we need a club is to get over the intimidation of meeting someone who's tall," he said. "When you go through these activities together, you no longer have the feeling of being the only one."

Riding in an elevator can be tough on tall people such as John Orendt — and for those craning their necks to look at them.

Gregory Yamamoto • The Honolulu Advertiser

Even has a charity

The club idea? It's no joke. Orendt has been a member of tall clubs in Tucson, Ariz., and Denver.

He has the constitution and by-laws written up and ready for adoption. (See his Web site, www.hi.lp.org/Tall.)

All of the officers' positions are open. Orendt wants to be in charge of the Internet site.

Annual dues will range from $20 for newsletter subscribers to $35 for married couples. Orendt said he hopes the club will even have charity events and perhaps raise money for causes such as Marfan syndrome, a hereditary disorder characterized by abnormalities of the blood circulation and the eyes, and abnormally long bones in the limbs.

So look for the tall guy handing out business cards with the word TALL in capital letters.

He's giving out his phone number to everyone: 372-1570.

He's a SWM who enjoys hiking, tennis, dancing and rock 'n' roll, in search of a tall SF with similar interests.

If you fit the description, leave him a message. He'll call you.

Reach Tanya Bricking at 525-8026 or tbricking@honoluluadvertiser.com.