Monday, March 09, 2009

At Long Last

For years I have obsessed over a physical condition for which I could not find a solution. I have tried ointments, creams, jellies and emollients. Over the course of several decades I submitted myself to various doctors who examined me; prodding, poking, probing to no avail.

The embarrassing questions and the stares tried my patience. Each time I sought help the verdict was the same; there was nothing that medical science could offer me in the way of relief.

I then tried metaphysical "cures" only to find myself taken advantage of by hucksters and charlatans. After years of searching and thousands of dollars, I finally gave up and resigned myself to my fate.

Until today.

From the Chicago Tribune:

A chemist in Vienna has taken the term "navel gazing" to its logical extreme and guaranteed himself a curious epitaph: Unraveler of the mysteries of belly-button lint.

I would literally swell up with this stuff within a few hours.
And the stink...

Georg Steinhauser discovered that there is a certain type of body hair responsible for directing lint into the navel. The researcher spent three years studying 503 pieces of schmutz from his own belly button, then published his conclusions in the journal Medical Hypotheses under the title, "The nature of navel fluff."

Among other gems, the article notes: "Accordingly, and to the author's personal experience, navel lint seems to be a phenomenon that affects primarily male adults."Steinhauser found that hairs around the belly button have a scaly structure that pulls fibers from clothing and then directs those fibers—along with dead skin, fat, sweat and dust—into the belly button.

Finally an answer. It's called schmutz. The man's a genius.

This is not a joke; I once had a favorite flannel shirt that I could only wear for three hours. I would then pull a cubic yard of schmutz from my navel. My wife used it to knit Christmas doilies for the Salvation Army. During the winter we would burn it to heat the house.

He wrote that scales on the hair act like "barbed hooks," catching a "melange of foreign materials" and coalescing them into easily removed clumps of lint. Thus, Steinhauser posits, men with abdomen hair likely have "cleaner and more hygienic belly buttons than those who do not"—provided, of course, they go to the trouble of actually removing the lint lumps.

The "Schmutz Horizon" is the area around the navel where lint, dead midgets and slow asteroids are gathered by belly hair (AKA Satan's Schmutz Hounds) to make its way inexorably into the depths of the umbilical remnant scar, also known as the Inney Sanctum.

For those who don't want to deal with the lint altogether, Steinhauser recommends a good belly shaving.

I have already started a regimen of daily abdominal filament removal. I lost sixteen pounds the first day and went down two belt sizes. I wept.

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