Study is no hot-button issue

When was the last time you paid any attention to your belly button? If you’re like me, I’ll bet it’s been more than a few days.

That scar on your belly is the remains of what gave you nourishment when you were a mere baby attached to your mom. In my case it was the hose that gave me my first shot of spaghetti and sardines. My mom loved that combination. Perhaps that’s what caused me to be born with a mustache and an accordion.

I doubt if many people give much thought to their BB (belly button). Minor body parts are pretty much ignored and you have to agree that the BB is pretty minor. One reason why we probably pay little attention to our belly buttons is that they are a fairly boring part of our body. Did Hugh Hefner ever have a foldout featuring the BB?

Of course not. Even medical science ignores it. How many of us have ever heard those ugly words, “We better get a cat scan of your umbilicus.”

I’ll pay some attention to my ear canals. I have to or the hairs that grow from it could end up getting caught in my bicycle chain. If I let those follicles go crazy, that canal could become a haven for small creatures searching for warmth. I’ve thought that I could train the hair for a combover but that might look a bit silly. Not only can the hair be a problem but there’s the dreaded wax build up. Every couple months most guys secrete enough wax that could support a car detailing operation for months.

I also focus much more on my nostrils than my belly button. That could be due to the fact that they are a feature of a rather prominent schnozze that makes the nostrils resemble two vast black holes at the center of our galaxy. Once again hairs coming from those two caverns must be tamed before they get tangled in a twirling fork. Of course, one can’t trim them too much when they’re protecting gaping caverns. I have to make certain they provide enough inhalation filtration to prevent small animals up to the size of sparrows taking refuge there.

I discovered that the average person inhales about 11,000 liters of air each day. That works out to 399 cubic feet of air a day or a box of air 10 feet long by 4 feet wide by 10 high. I could snort that in during the first half of an average sneeze

You may be asking yourself just before you move on to something worth reading, why am I discussing belly buttons or to be scientifically correct, umbilicuses? Because there’s a Belly Button Biodiversity Project housed at North Carolina State University. Scientists there are studying the complexities of the BB and have just released their initial findings. They say the BB is similar to a rain forest due to the vast numbers of different species that thrive in its fuzzy warmth. But if you have trees taking root in your umbilicus, it’s time to wash it with gasoline and set it afire.

Just think about this project. We have a $16 trillion national debt but we have enough dollars to fund research into a fleshy lint trap.

I imagine being assigned to this project was a promotion for some young scientists. Here’s the scenario. It’s the office of the Director of Belly Buttons. “Well, Dr Johnson. I’ve called you in here today because we’ve taken notice of the fine work you’ve been doing. Because of your outstanding record, we’re promoting you to the belly button. You’ve done so well on the Toe Jam Biodiversity Project that we believe you’re ready to handle the responsibility of the belly button or, as you know it, the umbilicus. So, well, done, young lady. Keep up the good work and I see no reason why you couldn’t be into the Armpit BP in a few years.

“So, as of next Monday, you will be in charge of the extremely delicate assignment known as the Chief Epithelial Swabby. Obviously, we like the way you handle a Q tip. Though you possess wonderful skills, you’ll still need to go through a bit more training. Your clockwise swipe is quite lovely but you need some work on counterclockwise swipe. As of now, the motion is not 100 percent but we see great promise and are totally confident in your ability to achieve perfection. So, welcome aboard, Doctor. We’ll see you Monday morning bright and early with Q tip in hand.”

There’s not much doubt that bacteria living in a belly button probably lead a fairly boring existence compared to living in other body parts. Their funeral eulogies could really be embarrassing. What does one bacteria say about another bacteria’s quiet life? “Bacillus Annie died today. She was predeceased by her parents and spent all of her life in a belly button just as her billions of ancestors. She accomplished absolutely nothing in her 12 days. She is survived by billions of cell division kids who also will go on to do nothing as well. She lived in a pile of lint like all the rest of us and that’s it. She ate flecks of discarded skin and sucked human sweat. This goes on one bacterial generation after another with little hope of escape. It was a bleak life but she lived it with great distinction. Her sad end came before she achieved her life-long desire of moving to the upscale neighborhood of the nipple. Sadly, Annie will not be missed and neither will any of us.”

We’ve heard of contemplating one’s navel which in scientific terms is called “omphalokepsis.” Now you know why it’s called contemplating one’s navel. It is believed that this practice may lead one to have deep thoughts and one can never have too many deep thoughts. As you can tell from this discussion, I am still searching for one.

Therefore, I’m going to contemplate my navel for a few minutes and I’ll report back to you. Don’t go away.

I’m done and here’s my report of the thoughts I had. How many deep thoughts do you count?

Look at all that junk surrounding my BB. I need to lose some weight. Hmm, it looks sort of like a cute little volcano. I wonder how good looking my navel is in the world of belly buttons? I’ve never looked at another man’s BB. If I did, would that mean I’m gay.? Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

I’ll bet my BB’s probably not on par with Brad Pitt’s but I’ll bet it’s better looking than Tony Soprano’s. I think I’ve got enough lint in there to knit a sweater. By the way, where does all that lint come from? Did I just see a pair of eyes looking back at me? Why did God put that thing right there in the middle of our belly? Why didn’t he put it off to the side where it’s hardly noticed? Why am I staring at my belly button when I’ve got a column to write? Hmm, I’m hungry. I think I’ll get a navel orange. I wonder if it would be more hygienic to have an outtie than an innie. I don’t have an outtie and I’m glad. They look as though they hurt.

I just realized that Adam and Eve are the only people not to have this thing I’m staring at. I wonder if that caused questions at the beach? Their children Cain, Abel and Seth had belly buttons. ” Hey, Dad , what’s this? How come you don’t have one of these?” I wonder if Adam wore a speedo? I imagine Eve wore a modest one piece suit after the Fall so her lack of a belly button wasn’t evident.

What am I doing contemplating Eve in a one-piece and creepy Adam in a speedo? My mind is sick. Finally, I just had a deep thought.

Nin Privitera is a Fredonia resident whose column appears monthly. Send comments to