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Belly Lights signal that life is flashing by

May 02, 2001

Belly Lights signal that life is flashing by



The cascade into old age is generally a long and gradual slide, but every so often a product or event will slap you with brutal force and you can feel the bottom drop out from under you and that slow slide becomes a sickening plunge like a jetliner in a downdraft.

Such a product came to my attention last week by a helpful Lifestyle editor whose hobbies include baking, reading and sitting back and watching me sweat.

This product is a thing called "Belly Lights." They are growing in popularity in places like New York and California, which means they ought to become a fad in Hagerstown about the time George W. Bush is beginning his second term.

I'm sort of at a loss as how to describe these gizmos, so I'll let the Web site ad for Belly Lights do it for me:

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"Belly Lights are an alternative to navel piercing for girls of all ages, with a twist - these illuminated charms flash and blink! Using hypo-allergenic skin adhesive and hydro foam, Belly Lights adhere to any navel. Belly Lights can be sized to fit, are easily and safely removed, and can be reused as often as you wish. Lighten up your waist-line with the original Belly Lights!"

Ooooo-kaaay.

A flashing light for your navel. Better get Del. Chris Shank to get a bill through Annapolis making it legal for a woman to have her belly light flashing while she's backing up.

But seriously. For one thing, if I had a wife and she came home one night with a drugstore bag containing hypo-allergenic skin adhesive and hydro foam, I'd be telling her, "Look, honey, whatever you have planned for tonight, leave me out of it."

And second - belly button lights? Who is she trying to attract, men or moths? "Uh, dearest? I don't want to alarm you, but you have about a hundred insects attacking your stomach."

If you go out clubbing, you won't need White Diamonds, you'll need Deep Woods Off.

Look, I'm pretty liberal and youthful-minded and "hip" concerning jewelry. Ankle bracelets? Love 'em. Earrings? Gotta have. Nose ring? Practical. (It keeps the girl from rooting around in my back yard and stealing my truffles.)

Just not too much metal all at once, OK? When you bring a girl home to mother, she shouldn't make the family think that you're marrying a rototiller. But as long as it's in moderation, I'm down with it.

I'm indifferent to tattoos, toe rings and navel piercings. Although it's not my cup of tea, I would like to meet someone with a tongue stud sometime, because I have this experiment in mind that involves high-powered magnets and lots of hypo-allergenic skin adhesive.

But Belly Lights leave me cold. And feeling old. And disturbed.

The strobe-light-like flashing is not unlike what hypnotists use to put their subjects into a trance. You don't suppose... Yes? Maybe? I demand to know, what are these women up to?

I think I see it. You go out to dinner and her midriff is lighting up like some Rio de Janeiro disco and you find yourself staring, mesmerized. Before you know it you distantly hear her voice saying, "You are getting sleeeepy. You will pick up the cheeeeck."

Even if it's not subversive, it has the potential to be very, very annoying. One or two is OK, maybe, but can you imagine a whole roomful? All of a sudden a simple cocktail party turns into Christmas at Rockefeller Plaza. Makes it tough on the photographer who's trying to get a light reading. "Excuse me for a minute, ladies, could I trouble you for a second and have everyone turn off their stomachs?"

And if the navel is flashing now, can the ears be far behind? Coming soon, the latest in women's fashion: Turn signals.

Tim Rowland is a columnist for the Herald-Mail.

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