The TALLK: The Air Force Vet

There’s an unspoken language amongst us "TALLS", sometimes it’s just a look, or head nod, followed by a smile because without saying it we know we have something in common. Sometimes it’s beyond the obvious physical similarities, it’s the stories we share, and life experiences that we have in common. I met the next interviewee on "The TALLK", a few years ago at a birthday brunch for a mutual friend, we instantly connected talking about where we shop and find clothes and we’ve been cool ever since. He’s become like a big brother to me even though I’m taller lol! Well here it is goes the second installation of "The TALLK"!

Name: Charles Gray
Age: 45
Height: 6’6
Marital Status: Deeply involved
Occupation: Retired Air Force, 24 years. Currently studying Culinary Management
Give us a brief introduction of who you are?
I am a black male whom is comfortable in my own skin. I am a loving, caring, giving, and devoted man of honor. I am very loyal to family and friends. I am thankful for man that I have become threw the guidance of so many people in my life. I am thankful for all that I have been able to accomplish throw the will of God.
What’s the most annoying question you get asked as a tall person?
I’m pretty sure it’s the same question that many tall men and women of color get asked and that’s, “Do you play basketball?” Most people think just because I’m a tall, black male that I play basketball. Well, I did play on my high school team, but after that, just here and there. And now, at my age, even if I wanted to, the condition of my knees don’t allow me to.
When was the first time you realized you were tall?
In elementary school. I was always the tallest kid in the class.
How do you feel your height made you different?
Being tall has it’s pro and cons…It’s definitely an attention getter. Once a tall person walks into a room, it’s like “All Eyes on Me” It seems as if everyone is so amazed at how tall I am. But I will admit, I react the same way when I see someone taller than myself. And then there are the “Cons” of being tall. For starters, shopping for clothes and shoes. It’s nearly impossible to find clothes off the rack that will fit properly. Constantly hitting my head on stuff, I don’t fit into every car comfortably (when looking to purchase a car.
Do you think being tall impacted your life differently than others?
I would have to say yes. I feel my height has gotten me in certain positions that I’ve held at work. I think a lot of people equate height with authority. For example, when I first joined the military (in basic training) I was picked to be the Dorm Chief, which was somewhat the leader of the squad. If someone in my squad messed up, it would fall back on me so I was responsible for making sure everyone in my squad was sharp. I think when someone sees a tall person, a bit of intimidation falls upon them.

What are some of your biggest challenges when it comes to shopping?
Finding clothes that fit well. I’m tall and slim, so I can’t shop at ‘big and tall’ stores. My sleeve length is a 37/38 so in order for me to find a shirt that fits my arms I normally have to purchase an XXL-which is too big in the torso area. And with pants, the inseam size sold in most stores goes to 34, and then it depends on the cut of the pants. I can sometimes wear a 34 inseam but a 36 inseam fits more comfortably. Also, most stores carry shoes up to size 13, but I wear a 14, so unless I’m lucky, I usually have to order mine on line. There’s not much last minute buying shoes for me.
How would you describe your style?
As I’ve gotten older my style has changed as with most people. Back in the day I was into the big, baggie and oversize clothes that was in style at the time, but as I’ve gotten older I like my clothes to fit properly…still urban, but pieces more tailored to my actual sizes. And I’m also trying to get out of making sure everything I wear matches. In the past, everyone matched, but today’s style is not as predictable and so I’m trying to keep up with the times and switch it up a little more.

What are some brands that you always wear?
I recently discovered on-line shopping. So my brands are now starting to change. I use to be into Sean Jean, Guess, Ecko, LRG, Nike, etc.…but now that I’ve discovered on-line shopping and I’m able to find clothing in my size, I’m slowly phasing out my old brands and starting to wear brands sold at Old Navy, Gap, Polo, Banana Republic and Macy’s. And particularly those that carry sizes long sizes that fit me.

Ok so in this section I let three women readers pick questions to ask you.
1. Is monogamy realistic?
Yes, I honestly believe that monogamy is realistic. In my opinion, for a relationship to work there are 3 very important factors that must be met:
1. Communication- without it there can be no us. If we can’t talk/listen to each other then we would never be able to understand where the other is coming from.
2. Trust – I’ve been in and know of relationships where there is none. I’m not going to be with someone that I’m constantly wondering, what they’re doing, where are they, who they’re with, or being accused of something that I didn’t do.
3. Honesty – Honesty and trust somewhat goes hand in hand for me. I need the person with whom I plan on spending the rest of my life to be 110% honest with me at all times. Once I find out someone has lied to me, my mind starts to wonder what else has that person not been honest about. With these three elements, monogamy is definitely realistic and plausible.
2. What’s your most embarrassing moment?
When I was in the second grade, school had let out and I was waiting for the bus so I can go home. Well as I was waiting for the bus, I had to use the restroom really bad and there was no restroom near the bus stop. Well needless to say, I did not make it home. I was at the point of no turning back, and I went in my pants on the bus. And when the bus came to my stop, I had to get off the bus and walk pass everyone that was on the bus to get off.
3. How do you feel about the Black Lives Matters Movement?
I appreciate those who have so much passion and appreciation for black lives that they risk their lives and futures by protesting and making their voices heard in response to the many black lives who have been and are being senselessly taken by those who don’t suffer any consequences. They are saying these lives cost just as much as any other so; you cannot take one without paying for it. You must pay legally, financially and/or with your life or your freedom.

On Charles:
Shirt: Perry Ellis
Jeans: All LEVI’S
Baseball Tee: American Rag
Light Blue Button Up: Guess
White Print Button Up: Old Navy
Blazer: GAP
Hat: Shop in Cali (will update later)
Belt: Merona
Tall & Dope Tee’s: Ramona O.
Photos by: Sharif K. & Rah Mosley
Styling by: Rah Mosley
Grooming by: Lester B.
Beard Groom: Dexter

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