Navel Lint

For Those Who Need
Something to Collect

Through history, many have distinguished themselves as master collectors. From the divine to the odd, from the historical to the utterly abject, collecting has either been considered a labor of excellence or a dangerous psychosis, depending of course, on what’s been collected. But every once in a while everyone gets blown out of water by an unusual collection. Did anyone say lint?
People have collected art, antiques, ancient books and rare coins. Some became known for developing a taste for the unusual, such as coffee grinders, cookie jars, even Coca-Cola caps. You may have seem them on TV being praised for possessing, for example, some very old and very rare and very expensive cigarette pack.
Others have had the heartbreak of their lifetime upon discovering that an old set of drawers, in their family for generations, has always been absolutely worthless.
We’re not even getting into the realm of the disturbed and the psychotic. Other hit shows come to mind, such as those about hoarders, poor souls who have completely lost the ability to discard anything. Rather than collecting things, they’ve become preys of their power to clutter their life, and wind up buried in their own home.
And who can’t explain those who collect people, or rather, their bodies? Serial killers may share DNA with any garden-variety collector, by pursuing something over and over again, but the similarities stop when they go ahead and commit their first ominous act to fulfill their obsession.
Now that you’re certifiably freaked out, meet Graham Barker, from Perth, Australia. Far from a creep, here’s a perfectly reasonable librarian, who, for 26 years, have dedicated himself to a passion that wouldn’t hurt a fly. And that it may have some scientific value too but we’d have to get back to you on that. A perfect healthy habit, to be sure, but not without some icky factor about it, to boot.
See, all these years, Barker has been collecting his own belly button lint. So far, he has filled three glass jars with the stuff and hopes to get to a few more, before his own time to be collected comes up. We told you, his passion does have an icky factor but it’s absolutely harmless. And very light too. The whole thing weights only 22 grams, the last time he measured it.
Did we mention that he gets visitors? Apparently, most people have a positive reaction, passing the usual questions involving hygiene and conservation. So in a way, his collection also helps him socializing and meet new people. Which is exactly the reason many people start collecting things in the first place.
Remember how popular hobbies used to be in the U.S.? Most of those that involved collecting, though, as with a lot of 20th century stuff, wound up in a garage, at storage spaces, the Salvation Army, and buried in public landfills across the land, more or less on this order. Whatever had value, the family usually cashed in, by taking it to one of those appraisal shows, to be praised or humiliated on national TV.
Which can be considered, by the way, a new hobby for different times. Because the world simply doesn’t seem to have much time for the other stuff, some say. We say, navel lint to all that. We still collect plenty of stuff, we just don’t take that long to get rid of them all and start all over again.
Answer quickly, how many cellphones have you bought in the past five years, how many did you send to be recycled, and how many are still at the bottom of an old bag of yours? Coming to think of it, don’t bother. It’s all material things, anyway. If you don’t see the point, what’s the point? If it rocks your boat (and law enforcement has no problem with it), go for it.
So there you go. Some collect great art. Some go to jail for serializing their crimes. And some create new categories for the Guinness Book of Records. Now if we could only remember what we did with those vintage Star Trek convention tickets…

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