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The Mariko Aoki Phenomenon

| 5/24/2013
  • It’s the middle of the day on a Saturday. You’ve had a venti coffee, which in your mind is one cup, but is actually like almost three. You don’t like calling it a venti, but you play into their game, because you don’t want to be judged by the baristas. You’re in the local bookstore. “Who buys this shit?” you think, as you walk down an aisle filled with Anime graphic novels on one side, and every book to ever be sold at an airport on the other side. You’re glad that there is still this bookstore, and you’re sad they are disappearing. You take that last, nasty sip out of the cup. It’s never as good as the first. It hits you. You need to poop. Now.

    This is how 75% of my bookstore visits go. Am I exaggerating? Yeah, probably a little bit. But let’s say it’s 50%, which is actually a pretty reasonable guess. What is it about being in bookstore, hopped up on a little coffee, that makes me want to drop a deuce? I’m not a regular coffee dumper. And I don’t read books often enough on the shitter to make that connection. I’ve always joked though that there was some kind of mental connection between bookstores and pooping. When you’re in the home of the books, you just have to poop. But when bringing this up with people who can tolerate me, I’ve only gotten a mixed response:


    “Of course! The same EXACT thing happens to me. Every time. It’s like that many books equals shit storm.”

    “Ehh, maybe? I dunno. I don’t pay attention that.”

    “[Blank stare and/or dry heaving].”

    I’ve never relented, however. I knew I wasn’t the only one to have this feeling, this urge. How could I be? There is no way that I am the only person in our known universe to have to pinch some hot loafs while perusing paperbacks. I knew this had to be a common occurrence. And yesterday I was made aware of this. My Japanese savior, Mariko Aoki.

    In 1985 Mariko Aoki contributed an essay to the publication Han no Zasshi (or as Americans would say: Book Magazine). In her essay, she made the observation that browsing through bookstores made her need to read the restroom. I can just imagine a Japanese woman, sitting down to her electric typewriter, ready to type up a short piece about dropping bombs in her local bookery.

    Who would have thought!? A Japanese woman in the eighties making a public proclamation about shitting up bookstores. I guess it’s no surprise though. Those Japanese are into some weird stuff.

    Some seem to think there could be a laxative effect caused by the chemicals in the ink on the paper. Others seem to think that the posture of browsing may cause the flow to get going. Likely it is myriad factors, depending on the person. However, the evidence for this phenomenon remains weak.

    We here at TheBrabble take pooping and other butt-related matters very seriously. I pledge our commitment to determine the authenticity of the Mariko Aoki Phenomenon in the future. We believe the day will come when public policy will catch up with this physical and mental wonder and demand clean public restroom reform for all and give this Japanese woman the eternal and international praise she deserves: her name relating to a very specific kind of dump.

    Photo Credit: By Warburg (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

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