Of Belly Buttons and Soup Dumplings (and a 30-day writing challenge)

Screenshot 2017-06-14 at 11.40.15 AM

Yesterday afternoon, my five-year old was lying upside-down and face-up next to me in our big leather office chair as I typed away on the computer. Her legs were sticking up, resting on the chair back, and her head was dangling off the bottom. She was clad in only underwear because of our hellacious New York heat wave.

Now, to understand this story, you have to know that my daughter has an enviably enormous innie. It is round and wide and deep and looks like a place an alien spaceship would land.

So, as I was tickling my girl’s naked belly and blowing zerberts on it, she suddenly got serious and asked me, “Mommy, did you know my belly button looks likes an inside-out soup dumpling?”

I paused for a minute to digest this, because she’s right. If you turned a soup dumpling inside-out so the seam was on the inside, then plopped it into a flesh-colored bowl with a little lip on it, it would look exactly like her belly button.

She continued, “My belly button is the dumpling and my blood is the soup.” Not quite as accurate, but certainly a decent analogy.

Then, she took her powers of observation and metaphor-making into the realm of philosophy by asking, “Why is my belly button a soup dumpling?”

As questions go, this ranks right up there with my oldest daughter’s question, at perhaps a slightly younger age, “But why do we all live in a yellow submarine?”

Fast-forward to this morning, and I still have no idea how to answer either question. But a quick internet search has revealed some fun facts:

1) Belly button plastic surgery – mostly for people with outies wanting innies – is a real thing, and it goes by the extremely fun word “umbilicoplasty.” This sounds like a word one says while bouncing on a trampoline, perhaps while keeping 6/8 time.

2) In 2005, the number of people getting umbilicoplasties was roughly comparable to the number getting butt implants.** I’m sure there is a profound cultural comment to be had, but I . . . don’t have it.

3) The word “zerbert” (synonym: raspberry) was popularized, if I remember correctly, by The Cosby Show.*** Before that, my family used a term we picked up from some friends. Their word was “boofa” – also nicely onomatopoeic.

4) Zerbert has no antonym. Which means one should be invented. Suggestions?

On a tangential note, I am an extremely lazy writer in need of major external motivators, and for that reason, am challenging myself to blog every day for the next 30 days. Expect random thoughts, humorous antics, the fruits of idle googling, and hopefully the occasional insightful post. It all depends on how much sleep I get and whether my kids oblige me by continuing to be funny.

*Photograph from Xiao Long Bao – Chinese Soup Dumplings Recipe

** Fun facts from What makes an innie an innie? And more belly button mysteries

*** Confirmed by Urban Dictionary


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