Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Belly Button

Can the word "belly button" be translated into Tagalog? This morning I woke up with a jolt, trying to remember if I had classes or not. It dawned on me that this was a Wednesday, my mid-week sanity break, and proceeded to think about my life's greatest mysteries today, the Tagalog counterpart of belly button being one of them. My Tagalog-English and English-Tagalog vocabulary has suffered from neglect for the past few years; I haven't heard, spoken, or written in straight Tagalog since elementary with the exception of trying to explain Machiavelli to my Soc Sci II professor last semester. I can't find the proper term for belly button in Tagalog, and I can't even remember the anatomically-correct description for the little strange hole that isn't actually a hole that once connected me to my mother's uterine lining.

Don't get me all started on my English now because I can no longer enunciate words properly as well; what usually starts out as the word "sheet" in my brain is somehow abbreviated by my tongue (and to my horror) as somehow sounding more like "shit." I comfort myself that I still haven't reached the point where I exchange f for p or pronounce spaghetti like "is-pa-ge-ti." There was a time when people were asking me for the literal translation of the Tagalog word pangingilo/nangingilo" and I couldn't help but laugh because the first words that came to my mind was the line from the Sensodyne commercial "Pain when you eat cold or hot foods." It was quite a mouthful considering that pangingilo is the sudden stabbing pain you feel upon eating food that is heated or cooled to a temperature very unlike your teeth that has been rendered sensitive by God-knows-what. Hahaha, the mysteries of translation where chemistry becomes kimika or kapnayan. But asshole that I can be, I still snigger when other people mispronounce words like sheep or fringing; sheep sounded like shep from a History classmate and fringe in the word fringing became “free-ng-ngeeng” when pronounced by my Physics professor.

Speaking of belly button, it is still a mystery to me why some people are outties and some are innies. (If you don't know what outtie or innie means, it is this: you're an outtie when your belly button protrudes and an innie if it doesn't.) Is it because of the way the umbilical cord is cut and clamped by the midwife or ob-gyne? Does it have to do with one being unusually active as a child inside the mom's womb that results to being an outtie or the nurse accidentally pulling off all the umbilical cord that results to being an innie? Some people actually make a big issue of what the belly button looks like, i.e. that it looks the print model look ugly or that it protrudes too much that the MTRCB has to sanction the TV host to wear nipple tape over her belly button. Pregnant women usually become outties if they were innies in the first place; pregnant outties usually become mega-outties like Kelly Ripa when she's pregnant.

The more mysterious thing to me is why people are so sensitive in the belly button area. Is it because the skin is thinner there? I remember the time I accidentally brushed against the belly button of my ex (we were not fooling around, mind you) and he recoiled in horror. I asked him why and he told me that his childhood nanny used to scare him that if you touch the belly button, you can eventually puncture the skin and touch your bloody innards. (Now what kind of story is that?) It somehow stuck to his mind and wouldn't even dare clean his belly button with cotton swabs and oil without sucking his breath first. Even some people recoil like my ex when I ask them if they clean theirs regularly; they are probably as afraid as my ex because some yaya of theirs told them the same ridiculous story when they were younger. I have no problems with my belly button and I am still mystified that I am the only one not squeamish enough to poke it.

Belly button was actually my mom's term of endearment, along with mahal, or anak. It rhymes with my real nick and becomes K.B.B. when my mom fully pronounces it. She rarely uses it now that I am legally an adult but somehow, she uses it when she makes lambing or wants me to be her baby again. I am actually on my last year of being a teenager and no longer quite a baby except for my occasional tantrum or panic attack. Makes me feel so old and young at the same time. Hehehe, I wonder if my mom will smile and pout sadly at the same time if she gets to read this. Advanced happy birthday, Ma. Thanks for my new room and bath room.

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