My friend Inge de Bruin rang me up. She wants me to hold her hand on Friday while she gets her belly button pierced. So nervous is she at the prospect that she confessed her hands were sweating just talking about it. Inge de Bruin is a no-nonsense go-get-'em type, who has birthed two young 'uns and gone through a painful divorce, so I was somewhat surprised that she would flinch at the prospect of a belly-button piercing.
"Now, don't psychoanalyse me," she said, "but I've always been sensitive about my belly button. Every now and then I have a dream that my belly button has opened up and I'm bleeding to death."
To me, that would be a pretty good reason for not getting a piercing in that spot but I simply shrugged and agreed to come with her. Then I wandered into New Girl's office holding a copy of the biscuit recipe book I'd bought at lunch time.
"Look! Little shortbread biscuits that are shaped like buttons! Whaddya reckon?"
"Hmmm, I suppose they'd be okay - even though I'm afraid of picking up buttons."
"What the hell are you talking about?!"*
With much comely flushing of her peaches-and-cream complexion, New Girl explained that while buttons firmly attached to clothes mean nothing to her, nothing, when the same items are loose and strewn carelessly about the place it tends to get her a little uptight. If she was to open a drawer, for example, and find a button just sitting there she wouldn't be able to pick it up. A jar of buttons wouldn't faze her, though she'd probably prefer not to have to dip into it, but the individual loose button, lying around in a menacingly unattached fashion, would be her undoing.
There's a joke here somewhere about pushing her buttons, but I can't quite make it work. You have a go, if you think you're so damn clever.
*I say this a lot. I seem to live my life in a state of perpetual astonishment and confusion.