There was an old joke line that people used when they wanted to cover for their boss'  or other superiors absence when a third person inquired as to the bosses whereabouts. 'Oh, he's out back contemplating his belly button' you'd snarkily say. That let the question-asker know that you either honestly didn't know or out of stubbornness weren't going to reveal where the boss was at the time.

It also could mean the inquired upon person was someplace stoned, but that's another column for another day.

Actually, Omphaloskepsis or navel-gazing is a Greek word for well, contemplating your navel as an aid to serious meditation. Are you surprised there's more to meditation than closing your eyes, crossing your legs, and saying OHM over and over with your thumb and forefinger touching?

And it's all good as long as the ol' belly button is in good shape, but as swimsuit season is here it's a good time to check out your little tummy scoop and make sure everything is copacetic.

For most of us, it's just there and a little pinky finger swirly wipeout during the shower or bath is about all we need in terms of navel maintenance. However, things can go seriously wrong really fast down there.

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Belly Button Problems

Skin Problems - sure your skin anywhere can become irritated, but the skin around your navel is a little extra sensitive. Look for cleaning products without alcohol which will leave your skin dry and itchy. Everyone knows what happens to a small patch of skin you scratch at too much.

Piercing - Ouch. Again I'm not a fan of needles but a lot of people like the look. As simple as it seems things can go wrong leading to scars and infection. Look for a professional to do the job, watch as they wash their hands in warm soapy water, dry them and put on gloves and see that they keep all of their equipment in good condition and sterilized. A complete stranger will be running a piece of steel through your flesh, once the wound has healed simple hygiene should cover any issues.

Omphalocele - Ever see a human with no belly button? This is a birth defect in which the stomach wall isn't fully formed at birth and some internal organs are outside the stomach. A series of surgeries on the infant eventually gets it all back in, but typically surgeons do not create a 'button', and so the person grows up without one.

Candidiasis - This one's kinda gross, you may skip to the next one if you like. This is a fungus, candida that thrives in dark warm moist places. It smells funky too. Look for itchy, swollen skin putting out some funk smell. You can get it from antibiotics, also pregnant women and the obese are susceptible. OTC antifungals in powder or lotion form should knock it out.

Sebaceous Cyst - Notice a lump under the skin, that moves when you touch it? Could be a blocked gland or an inflamed hair follicle, perhaps a cut or scrape may have caused it. Typically it doesn't hurt, but you'd better hit up the doctor on this one, it's a cyst. Your doctor will have to drain it. When it pops and the ooze is coming out, hold your breath.

There is a range of other issues from bacterial infections to temporary 'outies' on pregnant women. Good hygiene with non-abrasive non-alcohol containing soaps combined with the pinky finger rubout normally keeps everything in tip-top shape.

And if you naturally have an outie and want an innie or you just don't like the shape of yours, there are plastic surgeons for that, they have books of belly buttons you can pick from as though it were a hairstyle you are changing.

If anyone is looking for me, I'll be out back contemplating my navel.

Getty Images - Typical "innie" and everything seems to be just fine here.