Modern Navel Gazing

My daughter and I wandered around an athletic shoe store last night as we finished up our Christmas shopping. Of the thousands of shoes on display, the one or two she was interested in were not available in her size. Even the pair she settled on fell into a puzzling gray area between too small and too large. Two young women continued their discussion of the various scheduling and employee discount policies of other stores in the mall as we approached the cash register. Neither of them ever made eye contact with us.

As the younger woman rang us up, she called out to a male employee who had just come around the counter. “Hey, how does this look?”

She lifted up the front of her shirt to reveal her bright pink belly button jewelry with several parts all mysteriously held in place and dangling from the canvas of her skin.

“Looks good,” the guy told her. “Where’d you get it?”

“Hot Topic,” she said, suggesting that she worked it in over her break. “I used to have a martini glass, but I lost my olive.”

A previous generation aspired to play out what they’d seen on movie screens, my generation remains alert for opportunities to use the smart ass humor we grew up with watching sitcoms, while the current generation is busy acting out millions of personal reality shows. Innuendo and sugar-coated romance have retired to a gated community in Florida, sarcasm is still fighting to make a painfully honest living, and the navels we gaze at now belong to strangers.