New Year's Resolutions From the World's Tallest Woman

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Michael Jackson and the Giantess

While working at a Guinness exhibit in San Francisco in the mid 1980s, a young black man came up to her one evening and introduced himself as Michael Jackson. "Of course, I didn't believe him," she said. "I shot back, 'Yeah sure, and I'm the next president of the United States.'" But, she says, she and Jackson saw each other several times. He came back the next day with autographed copies of his albums and she later sent him an autographed copy of the Guinness Book of World Records. "I was truly impressed with his humble kindness," she said. "I still can't believe he sought me out." But life on the road had low points. In Niagara Falls, tourists paid a few bucks to pose with her and that grew old fast. While she's always tried to maintain her dignity, it's not always easy. When talk-show host Howard Stern tried to get her to talk about her sex life, she finally admitted on the air that she was a virgin. "I don't want to hurt Howard Stern's reputation," she says. "But he's actually a nice guy. A little strange, but aren't we all?" She talks a little more openly in her book: "A man once pursued me for a relationship, but I found out in no time that he was married and he was just curious." "I'm sure a man would marry me," she now jokes, "But what man could afford a diamond that would fit on my size-16 ring finger?" Post-Sept. 11 Compassion

By the early 1990s, she found herself working as a secretary again, and speaking at elementary schools. "I started to hate traveling. I had trouble getting in and out of planes and cars," she said. "The most satisfying work was speaking to children." The death of her grandmother and the loss of her job hit her rather hard in recent years. Her health has since been in decline, and she's had money issues. At one point she was tried selling signed paint-by-number portraits for $45. While in physical therapy, she heard about the Sept. 11 attack. "I was scared and devastated," she said. "But it also made me want to go forward. It made me feel so close to other Americans, and that we are a country that's compassionate."