Contemplating your navel
As a language expert afficionado, you get asked all sorts of odd questions.
My editor wrote to ask me a vital question: What do we call that stuff that collects in the filter of a clothes dryer? I immediately told her the exact scientific word: fluff.
She then mailed me back and wanted to know what you call the stuff that collects in your belly button.
I know, I know… my day is filled with tasks of startling importance!
Naturally, I told her that we call this stuff ‘belly button fluff’, but then decided to dazzle her with the extent of my knowledge and let her know that the real term for these kind of ‘fluffs’ is, in fact, lint.
Yes – you get pocket lint, clothes dryer lint and – wait for it – navel lint!
I’ll wait while you applaud me for making your day.
Now, navel lint is truly fascinating to many, it seems. In fact, a Dr. Karl Kruszelniki from Australia even went as far as to delve into the in and outs (pun intended) of belly button fluff. He was awarded an Ig Nobel Prize in 2002 for ‘achievements that cannot or should not be repeated’.
This stuff defies the laws of gravity and – contrary to popular belief – it doesn’t migrate downwards from your armpits but upwards from your underwear.
One thing I wonder though is this: if your belly button sticks out does that mean you collect less fluff than if you’re an ‘innie’ and your belly button is sunk into your tummy?
I’ll just tiptoe away now and leave you to contemplate your navel – or maybe even someone else’s!
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