The guys in my car pool have definite opinions.
They are decidedly pro-pizza.
They liked the Persian Gulf war, especially the bomb videos. They think Saddam Hussein is a bad guy who ought to be locked up.
They have strong views on education. Rather than lengthening the school year, as some studies have suggested, the car-pool guys want it shortened, by about six months.
The car-pool guys are 6 to 10 years old. A couple of mornings a month I drive them to school.
All I do is shut up, steer and listen to car-pool palaver. I listen for several reasons.
First, without downing six cups of coffee, I am not very verbal early in the morning.
Second, I am outnumbered. The five car-pool guys are mainly bTC interested in listening to each other, not to some adult behind the steering wheel. At home and at school these guys have to listen, or pretend to listen, to the grown-ups. But in the car pool, it is their turn to speak up on worldly matters, like ideal body weight.
That is what the car-pool guys talked about the other morning. Like a lot of Americans, the car-pool guys are not pleased with their weights.
But unlike many of their fellow countrymen, these guys don't want to lose weight, they want to gain it.
A couple of them said they would like their ideal weight to be 1,000 pounds, just like a sumo wrestler. This opinion was offered up by the Jameses. One of them is 7 years old, the other is 8. Each reported his weight as around 70 pounds. Like many Americans, the car-pool guys sometimes lie about their weight. But unlike the rest of us, the car-pool guys cheat by adding, rather than subtracting, pounds to what the scales say. The elders of the car pool, the two 10-year-olds, quickly informed the Jameses that shooting for a weight of 1,000 pounds was both unrealistic and unhealthy.
The elders suggested targeting something in the neighborhood of 750 pounds, or 570 pounds, a weight that one of the elders said was the poundage carried by Andre the Giant. Andre, a professional wrestler, is a man of great stature with the car-pool guys.
There then followed a spirited debate over whether being as tall as a giant or as fat as a sumo wrestler was the ideal body type.
The tall-as-a-giant contingent pointed out the advantages of being able to move around and crush enemies.
The fat-as-a-sumo-wrestler side was supported by the 6-year-old. He is the youngest and, at 50 pounds, the lightest member of the car pool. However, he has been known to claim he is 8 years old and weighs 60 pounds. With envy in his voice, the 6-year-old said that if "you were a sumo, you could belly-bop anybody." And he added that when you sat on somebody, that somebody would remain at your mercy.
After I dropped the car-pool guys off at school I compared their ideas on ideal body weight with my own.
My views on how much I should weigh have shifted over the years, as have parts of my body.
Whenever I consult the height and weight tables published by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. to see where I fit in, I am always disappointed.
At 180 pounds, I am too heavy for a "medium-frame" person of my height, 6 feet even. So rather than trying to take off pounds, I try to declare that I have a large frame. Large-frame guys could weigh as much as 188. But to do that my elbow has to be wider.
For me to join the ranks of large-frame folks, the knobby protrusions on either side of my elbow would have to measure more than 3 1/8 inches long. Even when it was swollen, my elbow was at least half an inch short of making the big frame.
So I have abandoned my hope of elbowing my way to an ideal weight.
Then last year, I heard Mary Abbott Hess, president of American Dietetic Association, say the secret of a good body was in the width of the hips. As a man, my waist should be no wider than my hips, she said. A woman's waist measurement, she said, should be 20 percent smaller than her hip measurement.
But even under these kinder, gentler and rounder guidelines, I sometimes find myself failing the ideal body test.
So now, when I'm feeling chunky, I know where to seek solace -- the car-pool guys.
In their view, I'm not heavy enough. And the other night before I went upstairs to wrestle with a couple of them, I bulked up with a big bowl of ice cream.