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Welcome to a translation for how tall men actually are when they tell you how tall they are. I, a tall man, may have my man card revoked for telling secrets from inside of our society’s walls, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take for journalism and to give everyone the truth.

Speaking of truths, let’s start with a fact:

The average male height is 5 feet 9 inches.

We’ll use that as our demarcation line.

If a man tells you any number below 5-foot-9, you should pretty much assume the reality is one or two inches shorter than they claim. If they are claiming exactly 5-foot-9 it is probably in the range of 5 feet 6 inches to 5 feet 8 inches. It’s a tractor beam and everyone really wants to get to that average height.

If a man is shorter than 5 feet 6 inches, it is possible they will tell you their real height, because at some point you aren’t fooling anyone and you need to accept being the #shortking that you are. I have friends who dip below 5-foot-6, and they are far more accepting of their heights than my friends who hover near the median.

I think the only height a man will tell you he is—and he actually is that height—is 5 feet 10 inches. A 5-foot-10-inch man is in a specific place where he is above average height, but also not tall enough to lie his way to the 6 foot barrier. It’s just too much. Even men aren’t this dumb.

No man will tell you that he is 5 feet 11 inches.

Because if a man is 5 feet 11 inches, he is definitely going to lie his way up an inch to get to 6 feet. That’s easy. If he were really clever, he’d just skip the obvious lie in saying 6 feet and go to 6-foot-1, and take away the most likely lie. It’s less of a giveaway than someone who tells you they are 5 feet 11-and-a-half inches. This is the tallest lie one can make.

True six footers have an interesting dilemma: on one hand, they are tall enough to not need to lie, but also, they will still add an inch because they don’t want to be clumped in with all of the 5-foot-11 dreamers. How do I know such a thing? Because, my dear reader, my license says 6 feet 1 inch.

Six-foot-1 is a height that allows us to maintain our lengthy superiority over other regularly tall guys who are a slight cut less of a man. “How’s the oxygen down there?” we may quip frivolously, while also noting the perfectly unreasonable excuses like big hair and big shoes of our competition, to stay an inch ahead.

A man who is actually 6 feet 1 inch will add an inch, to stay away from us, the 6-foot liars. So anyone who claims they go 6-foot-2 is certainly of the 6-foot-1 variety.

A man who is actually 6 feet 2 inches shouldn’t, but may also pay that inch forward.

Not because 6-foot-3 is a preferable height, but because it’s important to keep the right company. Same goes for someone who is 6 feet 3 inches, who may tell you they are 6 feet 4 inches. But this is pretty much the last acceptable height lie.

Because anything over 6-foot-4 is now freakishly tall. Six-foot-4 is impressive and majestic, but 6-foot-5 is gawky and freakish. Don’t be upset at me for saying this; I don’t make the rules. You know this is true, also. If you are over 6-foot-4, people need to start making special accommodations for you, and the height thing is no longer an aesthetic gift.

While you are certainly top shelf in terms of special retrieving talents, 6 feet 5 inches is an absurd height for a human.

Things will be demanded of you: chores, basketball showcases, that you duck when going into rooms built before 1997. So anyone 6-foot-5 or taller is going to give you a straight up answer if you ask them for their measurement.

Of course a caveat is anyone who is a professional athlete, who seems contractually obligated, or contractually benefitted to adding a couple inches to their listed heights.

Take this trusty guide with you, and abide by it on dates, or other man-meeting opportunities that may arise. Good luck, and remember, height is just a number. And numbers are easily manipulatable, but humans never should be.

Josh Bard

Josh Bard is a guy. A sports guy, an ideas guy, a wise guy, a funny guy, a Boston guy, and sometimes THAT guy. Never been a Guy Fieri guy, though.

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