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The bottom of the matter

It's a new year. Let's talk about your butt.

You heard me. Your butt. Your caboose. Your posterior. Your cakes.

Don't be shy. You talk about it all the time. You even talk about it with near-strangers -- personal trainers, clothing store clerks. Especially in January. January is get-in-shape month. No sooner does the hangover wear off from New Year's Eve than magazines wake you up screaming, "10 Ways To Lose 10 Pounds!"

And where do most people want those pounds to shed?

That's right. The rump.

So let's be up-front about the behind. We are infatuated by it in America. Women especially. High heels sell better because they give the illusion the butt is smaller. Black clothes over white ones for the same reason.

You can buy pants with butt shapers inside them. You can even buy padded panty hose. (That just sounds wrong.) Exercise equipment boasts of ways to shrink your butt ("glutes" when they want to sound professional). Women sweat through hours of StairMasters, steppers, elliptical machines, leg lifts.

And what, they say through panting breath, is the justification? "This really works your butt."

Recently, a line of exercise shoes called Skechers zoomed in popularity after their thick angled heels supposedly helped tighten your tush. Never mind that you feel as if you're going to tip over as you walk.

Go to the Internet and type in "shrinking the butt." There is no end to your choices -- including some exercise site that boasts the Brazil Butt Lift Workouts. Near as I can tell, this unique workout consists of lifting your leg up and down. But Brazilian women have a reputation for being tall, tan, long and lovely, and nowhere in there do you hear "fat butt," so there you go. They must know what they're doing.

I used to think this was just the craziness of women. But lately there's this TV ad with this guy named Mike Rowe who I am supposed to know but don't, and he says the thing he likes most about his Lee jeans is that his girlfriend says "they make my butt look good."

And then a woman looks seductively at him, tugs his belt loop, and says, "Lookin' good, Mike."

So, wait. Are men supposed to worry about this, too? How our butts look? Come on.

Here's the thing. I can understand an infatuation with the face. I can understand wrinkle creams, nose jobs, tooth veneers. Because when you look in the mirror, you see those things. When you meet someone, they see those things.

But your behind is so behind. I mean, have you ever really seen it? The best you can do is crane your neck in one of those three-way mirrors and even then, it's not a very good look.

Yet there's no denying, we are funny for the fanny. Not a music video goes by in which someone isn't swaying a bottom. Bootylicious is actually part of our vocabulary.

And now the silly season is back: It's January, and the infatuation begins anew. Tighten the tail. Chisel the cheeks. Beautify the bum.

Too bad we never put this attention on our brains. Can you imagine a month every year where people went crazy trying to tighten their logic, chisel their analysis, sculpt their IQs? You wouldn't have to buy sneakers or jeans. Maybe some carrots.

Alas, it's not to be. January is for bringing up the rear. We can only wait until this annual insanity fades, the calendar advances, and we go back to doing with our butts what the good Lord intended.

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