[New? Check out the Word of the Week Intro here.]
Despite suffering from a near-crippling bout of writer’s block characterized by sitting in front of a computer screen, telling myself that if I just write something things will get better, then doing so, then reading what I wrote and jabbing myself in the eye with spork, I came across a word that is too awesome not to share so I’ll do my best: omphaloskepsis.
Pronounced, “OM-fuh-loh-skep-sis,” it is a noun with its etymological origins in the Greek word, “omphalos,” which means “navel.” Omphaloskepsis means…(wait for it): the contemplation of one’s navel as part of a mystical exercise or meditation.
I know. I’ve already taught it to my iPhone’s predictive text. The more I say it, the more I want to contort myself into a SarcMark and see if it gets my juices [1. Creative juices, you perv.] flowing. This post originally had the following short story (with the omphaloskepsis artfully [2. Not artfully at all.] worked in). I’ve since decided it’s not nearly as omphaloskepsis-centric as it really should be though, so I wrote another story. Feel free to skip this one. I probably I would.
He glanced at the time on his phone again. 8:42. Should I call her? Maybe something happened.
Letting his book fall shut on the table, he slouched into his seat. I’ve been here since 7:30, just where I said I’d be. I couldn’t have missed her.
He flipped open his phone. No missed calls, nothing. His gaze drifted down to his abdomen and he let his eyes blur their focus there as he puzzled over the events of the evening. Then it dawned on him. The petite brunette with the short hair. She’d come in just before 8. That must’ve been her–she looked right at me, and then she left.
He sat up as the realization sank in. I’ll be damned.
He threw $7.50 on the table to cover his skim, half-caf, toffee mocha latte and a precise 15% tip. She was kind of fat anyway. He stood up. What a bitch.
Reaching for his book, he paused to trace the worn cover photo with his fingers for a moment. New Moon, the second in the Twilight series. Thank God for good literature. He slipped the volume under his arm.
The lamplight in the coffee shop was just enough to reflect the glitter in his body lotion and he smiled to himself. He looked smugly past the other customers as he headed for the door amid their stares.
Outside, he paused and let the night air caress his skin. “One day, I’ll find my Bella,” he vowed. Then he let his head fall back, his spine following in full arch, and howled at the moon.
Completely unrelated replacement story with a slightly better omphaloskepsis:
She was greeted by the familiar stench of old urine in the parking garage stairwell. Linda struggled with the door and finally managed to ease through sideways, holding a cardboard box with one arm and a briefcase in the other. Eight years of loyal service to Reynolds, Reynold, & Garp, and the only memento she left with was the personalized coffee mug they’d gifted her on her first Secretary Appreciation Day.
She told herself it was fitting, that it should be easy to walk away. But it stung. Especially when she learned the leggy redhead they’d met with last week would be her replacement. She’d seen the girl’s résumé. It was pink for God’s sake. I’m just glad I don’t have to train her, Linda thought. That would be too much.
Slightly out of breath from the climb, she fumbled with the knob and shouldered open the door to the 3rd level.
Bob had called her into his office at 4:00 and told her. “I’m afraid we’ll have to have security escort you out,” he’d said, with a paper-thin attempt at sympathy Linda found nauseating. “Nothing personal. Just policy.” And so they’d paged Barry. Good old Barry. He watched as she cleaned out her desk, then gave her a reassuring pat on the back before walking her to the door. He’d held her box of belongings and shyly stared at his shoes as she donned her coat, scarf, and gloves.
Bob’s empty condolences and platitudes had irritated Linda, but the look of genuine sympathy on Barry’s face as she waved good-bye was almost too much to bear.
She pulled open her trunk and placed the box inside, pausing to remove the single picture frame from the small pile of knickknacks. She gazed at it as she opened the driver door and slid inside. The familiar face smiling up at her from behind the glass was one she looked forward to coming home to every day. Murphy was a white Scottish terrier she’d adopted from the pound 12 years ago, a perennially happy, feisty little animal who never failed to brighten her day. That was until he died in his sleep last month. It would be a long winter without him.
Linda slipped the key into the ignition and cranked up the heat. As it warmed her, the tears came. She’d been fighting them longer than she realized and now she submitted as the sobs overwhelmed her.
But Linda was wary of the tantalizing pool of self pity, and after several long minutes, she put an end to the brief indulgence. “Get a hold on yourself, Linda,” she said aloud to herself.
And with that command, she relaxed her neck and allowed her head to fall forward, initiating the personal mediation ritual that had gotten her through many stressful moments in the past. Focusing on her navel, she took a long, deep breath in as she mentally counted to 6, then exhaled as she counted back down to 1.
Her breathing was still ragged as she began, but soon became more rhythmic. At the start of her fourth breath, she recognized the beginning strains of Snoop Dogg’s Lodi Dodi on the radio and smiled as she recognized the familiar, soothing voice of the other dog in her life. Leaning back in her seat, Linda closed her eyes and let it all soak in. And within moments, she knew everything would be all right.
Hopefully things will be better next week. Maybe not, though.
In case you missed it, the first installment of IB‘s new “Books” section under the sexy new tab of the same name above. Enjoy!