For example, if you really want to make history come alive, create a mental image of the person or persons involved. Consider George Washington the night before crossing the Delaware to attack the British in Trenton. He’s in his tent and it’s colder than a . . . it’s cold, and he’s unfastening the thirty-eight buttons on his uniform as fast as he can so he can put on his jammies (whether they were a one-piece with the feet sewn in or not, that’s up to your imagination). As he lifts off his shirt, he looks down and sees a bit of fuzz lodged in his bellybutton. He pauses but for a moment and wonders what every man and woman since the dawn of time wonders, “Where did that come from?” (I suppose he could have saved it, put it in his journal, and someone could have sold it on eBay centuries later, but that’s beside the point.) Here’s a man, about to make history by accomplishing what many have declared extraordinary, and he’s dealing with navel lint. No one’s exempt.
Karl Marx, banging away on a cheap typewriter with no shirt on to complete his manuscript of the Communist Manifesto by the deadline given him by some capitalist pigdog, most likely paused at moments and looked down to find the fuzzy foreign matter gathered at the navel region. Frank Lloyd Wright, designing the engineering and architectural marvel known as Falling Waters, surely had to deal with it. An overabundance of navel lint may help explain some of Salvador Dali’s more surreal works. History’s most notable achievements and events were wrought by men and women who battled the fuzzy navel. The only person who may never have had to deal with this midriff detritus was my 9th-grade Health teacher, Mr. Delpippo, because I swear he was hatched from a pod – thus no bellybutton.
Recently, my wife informed me that she has never had navel lint in her life. While I worship the very ground that she walks on, and I would move heaven and earth to keep her on a pedestal, I knew her declaration was a bold-faced lie. I gave her the breakdown of notable people I just listed here and asked if she was better than all of them. She smiled and said, “Of course. They’re all men.” Exasperated, I did what any red-blooded American male would do in a case like this: I called her a Communist!