"Hey, Dalton! How’s your BMI?" my aunt Toogie piped up loudly.
Lowering the sports page in order to peer at her over the breakfast table, I replied calmly, "I have a Lexus."
"Not BMW, I said BMI," Toogie shot back, adding, "I’ll bet yours is a whopper. Do you even know what it is?"
"I’ll bite, what is it?" I responded cautiously.
"There’s the root of your problem," Toogie cackled. "Too many bites."
Unable to decipher the dialogue, I turned to my lovely wife, Grace, for help.
She smiled. "I believe Toogie is talking about body mass index."
"Yep," Toogie barked. "According to this newspaper, the Feds are going to require everyone to have his or her BMI on file in medical records by 2014. Can you believe that?"
"Slow down," I pleaded. "Body mass what?"
"BMI stands for body mass index," Grace explained. "It is a relationship of one’s weight to height."
"It measures body fat, Porky," Toogie chipped in.
I was about to take a bite of bagel slathered with cream cheese but stopped short as both ladies sat grinning at me.
"What?" I queried.
"The government wants to know if you’re obese," Toogie chortled. "They don’t need regulations to do that. They could just call me!"
I didn’t counter her gibe but also made no move to reclaim my bagel. Finally, I asked, "Why would someone in the government want my information? What would they do with it?"
"Beats me," Toogie gushed, becoming more agitated. "Can you believe those clowns? They can’t fix the economy, but they want to stick their nose into my BMI? It’s big brother, that’s what it is!"
"Oh yeah, big brother," I chuckled. "That was a book, wasn’t it?"
"1984 by George Orwell," Grace interjected.
"Never thought I’d live to see such nutty stuff," Toogie sighed.
Grace rose to refill her coffee cup. "Sometimes life imitates art," she mused. After a pause she added, "Who is John Galt?"
"I’ll bite; who is he?"
"Never mind, it’s a long story," Grace shrugged.
I returned to the sports page as the ladies’ conversation trickled toward other topics. Somewhere amid baseball box scores my mind slowly drifted…
… A long line of people waiting to enter Krispy Krème snaked from the front door around two sides of the building. I took my place inside the satin roping guiding the crowd. Soon others joined the throng. Suddenly, those near the front of the line became agitated.
"The hot light is on," someone yelled. "Let us in!" chanted others. They were talking to two very large men standing with folded arms at the front door. Periodically, these two gatekeepers would stroll along the line to select people for entry into the doughnut shop.
Folks clamored for the bouncers’ attention as they perused the pack for the next lucky few. The bouncers paused at two attractive twenty-somethings just ahead of me. "You two can go in," barked one man while the other whispered into a microphone attached to his lapel.
The girls squealed, ducked under the satin roping and pranced toward the door. The larger of the two bouncers turned to me. "Name?" he inquired.
"Date of birth?"
I responded and he began flipping pages on a clipboard. "Williams, Williams," he said running a finger down the page. He stopped, looked at me, glanced at the clipboard and then back to me. He nudged the other bouncer, pushed the clipboard toward him and mumbled, "Look at this." The second bouncer whispered something into his microphone and then made a motion tipping his head quickly to one side, saying, "Mr. Williams, we need you to step out of the line."
Sensing trouble, people moved away giving me room to slide under the ropes. The bouncers and I walked across the parking lot to a van marked ‘BMI Patrol.’ A third man stepped out of the van. "This is officer Welsh. He’s going to take you downtown for some questioning," announced the first bouncer.
"But I just wanted a doughnut," I sputtered.
"Not with this BMI," answered the bouncer, tapping a finger on his clipboard. "If the man says no doughnut, then it’s no doughnut."
"No doughnut for you," barked officer Welsh in a quick cadence mimicking the dictatorial soup chef character on Seinfeld. The two bouncers grinned.
"I wasn’t hurting anyone," I pleaded. "I just wanted to go in and get…"
The bouncer with the microphone interrupted sternly, "Sir, Tiger Woods has a better chance of patching things up with Elin than you do of getting in there with your BMI. So, please get in the vehicle now before we have to…
…Grace set salad plates at each setting. "What kind of dressing would you like?" she inquired.
"Blue cheese," I answered.
Grace turned toward the man standing in the corner of the kitchen. He was tall with chiseled features and wore a black suit, tie and dark glasses. Without changing his expression or moving any other part of his physique, he shook his head a few short times from left to right. Grace turned back to me. "How about a nice vinaigrette?"
"Do we have thousand island?" I replied.
Again, Grace turned to the man in black. Again, he signaled ‘no’ with a few rapid, small twists of his head. "I think the vinaigrette would be nice, don’t you?" Grace remarked. Her comment was directed not to me but to the man in the corner and it was more of a pleading than a question. He whispered something into the microphone on his lapel and then held a hand to his ear. After a pause, he spoke, "Only a squeeze of lemon juice…
…I lay on a table surrounded by men in white coats. "This doesn’t look good," remarked one of them. "His BMI is way out of whack."
"Let me see the chart," directed a man who seemed to be the senior member of the mob. He peered at the paper given to him by an assistant. "We need remedial action, now!" he pronounced urgently.
"Shall we prep him for catastrophic weight decrement, doctor?" an assistant inquired.
"No, he looks like a good candidate for the alternative treatment," the senior doctor replied. "Are you familiar with that option?"
"I’ll bite, what is it?" answered the assistant.
"Well," the senior doctor explained, "we can get his BMI back in line by reducing his weight or by making him taller. By my calculations, he will be off the government’s rotund roster if we can just make him six inches taller. Now you just grab a leg while I take an arm and pull…pull harder…
…the tug jolted me. Grace held my arm.
"You haven’t heard a word we said, have you?" she asked.
I shook my head slightly from side to side.
"Well, pay attention this time," she pronounced. "Toogie and I are going downtown. Big sale at Bob Ellis. There are deli fixings in the fridge for your lunch. I’d suggest that you use mustard instead of mayonnaise."
"And keep your mitts off the double-fudge brownies," Toogie chuckled.
"If we’re not home by five o’clock, put the casserole in the oven," Grace added. "And think about taking a walk."
When I didn’t respond, she continued, "It would be good for you to get out and move a little more, but then I’m not going to make a federal case out of it."