Note: Stories are posted in reverse order. (Select them from the archive to read chronologically)

Friday, January 7, 2011


In a corner of the menu marked "Tonight's Special," I found a dish of antithesis.

"Fresh Normandy Style Antithesis in Garlic Sauce." is what was written there.

As I stared at the menu, I tried asking the headwaiter. "The antithesis, is it actually fresh?" 

"Ah, there's no doubt about that, sir." answered the headwaiter, as if he was offended by having been asked.

"Even after being in business for more than 30 years, not one customer has ever been disappointed by what is printed on our menu. When we say 'Today is Monday,' you can be sure that it is 100 percent Monday. And when we say 'Today's antithesis is fresh,' you can be sure that it is 100 percent fresh. Literally they've just been harvested, and they're lively as well. Even now they're still snapping away." 

"I apologize then. I was just being careful because I've hardly been able to find fresh antithesis nowadays."

The headwaiter narrowed his eyes and nodded, as if in affirmation.

"I agree with you completely. Certainly in the last 10 years all of the large fresh antithesis have been depleted, and in most places you're getting frozen Indian dwarf antithesis. Except you can barely call the ones from India antithesis. They're lacking in juices, and there's no character to their bitterness."

"Yes, certainly..."

"However," said the headwaiter, interrupting my words. "However, you shouldn't be worried. We only take in the real thing. Tonight's antithesis is a once in a year delicacy. The price is a bit high, but trying it is worth it. We quickly peal the skin, score it with a knife, and then we pour our scalding hot garlic sauce on top in order to preserve the antithesis's natural crispy firmness. The skin is deep fried and enjoyed with a salad."

"Then that's what I'll have. Along with a dry white wine that goes well with antithesis," I said.   

I felt that the price was a little too high, but what else could I do? I had no idea when would be the next time I could eat real antithesis.

- m

Sunday, January 2, 2011


When it comes to allergies, mine have been pretty terrible. 

Because of this severe allergy I have towards women, I can't believe that I spent nearly 10 months in my mother's womb, but that's what the doctor says. 

I have this space extending 2 meters around me. If a girl enters that space, I break out in hives all over my body. My tear ducts swell up and tears come flowing out. I start itching profusely, and I can't help but dig my nails in and scratch. Before long, the red swollen marks left by my nails look like a relief sculpture. The parts that I've scratched two or three times in different directions have started to look like the mesh of a net. I pick away at my scalp. I pull at my hair with all my strength to try and stop the itch. A huge amount of my hair has already come out.  I sneeze and mucus goes flying. My wind pipe swells up, so I can't breathe very well. I try my best to breathe in and then out, but each time I end up making a wheezing noise that sounds like somebody blowing a whistle.

If a girl even comes close to that 2 meter area, I can't stop sneezing. That's my warning to quickly back off. 

But that's all just a memory to me now because I've made a full recovery from my woman allergy.

Naturally... I like women. So maybe that's why I've been able to concentrate so much on my treatment.   

I think that somewhere out there in my readership, there must be some people that share the same kind of problems I've had with woman allergies. I really want those people to be happy, so today I'm going to tell them how I overcame my allergy.

The premise is simple:

You know how people who can't drink sake have one small cup each day in order to build up their antibodies? This method is a lot like that.

In my case, I began with the smell. I started by just standing downwind from women. Then, I asked a friend and had him use an electric fan behind these women in order to give off a stronger smell. When I was on the verge of no longer feeling dizzy while doing this, I took another courage-filled step. I filled up a plastic bag with the woman-scented air, placed my nose and mouth at the bag's opening, and started practicing deep breaths-- just like how juvenile delinquents huff paint thinner. The first day I did this, I blacked out after taking a single breath. Nevertheless, I wouldn't back down. I steeled my weak heart and challenged myself over the next days.

I continued this training for about a month. When I was on the verge of reaching the final stage, I could be approached to the point of several millimeters before my nose started to twitch. I got to where I could even stick my face on the inside of a skirt, so I'd say that it was really worth it.

By then I was confident with the smell, but I was still quite weak when it came to the matter of touching. 

I had gotten a piece of peeled-off sunburned skin the size of my pinky tip, and I began the treatment by touching it to all the different parts of my body. Of course, the parts that I touched became reddened and itchy, and I also felt nauseous at first, but since I had overcome the smell before, I was fine with just repeating that process. 

Before long, I got as far as being able to hold hands, to embrace while clothed, to embrace while naked, to be OK with all the stuff beyond that, to go in without needing one of those you know whats, to become hated by women, to get to where I'm finally causing allergic symptoms in women all over the place, and even to have them almost call for police when I come within 2 meters.



There once was a young man who became a delinquent for the sake of his health.

His father had sold his libido to an old man that he had met in passing at a Pachinko gift-exchange station. In return, he got two packs of Mild Sevens, a tin of roasted seaweed, a toy car that changes directions when it hits walls, two grapefruit, and a plastic draw-string tote-bag with a picture of a steam locomotive running valiantly across the plains of Hokkaido. That last one wasn't really something that the young man's father had asked for.  

"How generous," thought the young man's father. Not only had the old man given him those gifts, but he also received Keiko Takeshita's latest album, a Dunhill lighter, a tin of rice crackers, and some Golden Blend Nescafé along with sugar cubes.

The father had figured that his son's libido was only worth around four tins of roasted seaweed. At first he was suspicious that the old man would suddenly bring up an even larger request in exchange for the additional items, but he felt relieved when he saw him turning around to wash his hands with liquid soap, then going up the stairs. 

There are a lot of people who have won more pachinko balls than that old man, but few could be said to have matched his level of grace and refinement. Those who merely take their balls and selfishly exchange them for gifts lack any sort of personal philosophy. The young man's father tried to ponder such things, but in doing so his head began to hurt, so he just gave an admiring "Yep" and smiled.

An entire week had passed since that day, but the young man still had no idea that his own father had sold off his libido.  

Seeing absolutely no change in his son, the father became more and more concerned.

He tried asking his son about it in a roundabout way. 

The son, not really understanding the meaning of the question, shouted "Kiyomi's a fine girl!" and threw an ashtray into the TV. 

            They had only moved into the house four years ago, but if there had been a Top 10 list for loud voices heard in that house, the son's yell with the sound of the cathode-ray tube exploding would have certainly taken 1st or 2nd place.

Having heard the racket, the delinquent son's mother returned home holding a several month-old infant in her arms. The father was concerned, but he warmly welcomed her back.

Another week passed, and the mother asked her healthily delinquent son about his libido.

"I dunno what yer talkin' about," shouted the son in a not-quite-so-loud voice and without throwing anything.

            The father heard about their conversation from the mother and thought to himself: "Maybe I'll look for that old man again and sell my whole family's libido."

- i


Yoshiro Odaka had a book out entitled "How did I ever become a Sectional Manager?" but since his first work was unfortunately released right after that of his colleague, Ōyama Takao's "You Gotta do This To Become a Sectional Manager!" its sales were far from spectacular.

Mutsuko, his wife, called her mother and sister-in-law over from their house in order to try and bring the now despondent Mr. Odaka back to the cheerful man he used to be. 

She really needed their help.

The three women, one with the maiden name of Yamamoto, one with the married name of Yamamoto, and one who had been a Yamamoto for quite some time, placed stickers saying "Company" over the word "Sectional" on his book. 

The former Yamamoto, now Yoshiro Odaka's wife, was a woman of enduring enthusiasm. When they had reached 50 hours of applying stickers, her mother and sister-in-law nervously suggested that she arrange some bullet train tickets for them all back to the Yamamoto household. 

"But I'm an Odaka now!" she said, her eyes flashing as she watched over their sticker application intently.

            Their work continued on for more than twelve years.

It might have been better if she had started selling them as they were being corrected, but if they began to sell out then they wouldn't have been able to make the replacements soon enough. The day finally arrived when all 3,000 copies of the first edition had "Sectional" replaced sticker by sticker with "Company," and the publication dates at the end of each book had been changed so that they could be set up in bookstores. Mutsuko Odaka read once more over the work of her husband who had stood by her over the long years, and tears of joy began to fall from her eyes.

Yoshiro Odaka was still in the bath, but when he heard the sound of his wife's sobbing he got out and ran to her, body still dripping. Odaka had already achieved the title of general manager by then. The nude, middle-aged man, wrapped in a wet towel, awkwardly held his wife and wept. 

Odaka had kept only one secret from his wife. He had already begun printing his second book, "Succeed in Apartment Management!" which he had entrusted to the publishing company of an acquaintance.
Ōyama Takao, his old nemesis, had just published "The Way to Cash-In on Condominium Management!" the day before.
He certainly wouldn't mention anything like pasting stickers saying "Single-Family Residence" over "Apartment." Odaka gently stroked the firm hair of his wife's perm as tears slowly trickled down his cheeks. 

Mutsuko, feeling a sense of warmth and affection in her husband's hand for the first time in a long while, trembled through tears as she threw off her skirt.

- i


Out of all the things that could have happened, we had gotten ourselves lost in the middle of an asparagus field. Our plan was to arrive in the next town by the afternoon, so we had started walking early in the morning. By the time we had realized that we were in the dead center of a gigantic asparagus field, the sun was almost setting in the West. The wind blowing around us carried with it a distinct chill, and the ominous smell of asparagus began to fill the air. 

I took out a map and compass from my rucksack and tried to figure out our current location, but ultimately I had no idea what had gone wrong. There wasn't an asparagus field listed anywhere near here. 

"At any rate, let's figure out which way the town is. If we know the right direction, we can make it through this field no matter what happens," I said.

The lightest of us, my younger brother, swiftly climbed up one of the towering asparagus trees. Clinging onto its trunk one-handedly like a monkey, he surveyed the surrounding area. 

"I don't know. I can't see a thing. I can't even see a single light," said my brother, shaking his head. 

"What ever will we do, big brother?" asked my little sister, her voice sounding as if she could cry at any moment.

"It'll be alright, don't worry," I said, patting her on the shoulder. "We'll gather plenty of firewood. Enough to make a fire lasting overnight . I'll dig a trench near here." 

Following my words, and covering their mouths and noses with towels to prevent paralysis, my brother and sister gathered dead asparagus branches with as much strength as they could. I dug a ditch around 1 meter deep with a shovel. The dry 1 meter ditch was nothing more than a consolation, but it was better than nothing. At least it would help keep my frightened brother and sister feeling safe.  

The full moon stood out clearly in the sky, and its light threw a blue cast upon the cloudy fumes that were spraying from the asparagus roots.  A number of small birds that had escaped too late had fallen to the ground, and were thrashing their wings about in agony. Very soon, the moon would be overhead, and they would probably be ensnared by the asparagus tendrils. Out of all the things that could happen, it just had to be a full moon tonight.

"Put your bodies lower; even though the gas is above your head, it won't get in. Whatever you do, don't fall asleep. If you sleep, the tendrils will come," I said. 

The long night was only just beginning.

- m


An assistant must not eat the bean-jam buns that the teacher is planning on enjoying later without permission. An assistant must not devise schemes to prevent female guests from entering the teacher's office on visits, just because they're said to be pretty. An assistant must not reuse tea leaves for the teacher's cup while keeping the first brew for himself. An assistant must not begin by saying "Well, you see," when speaking to the teacher. An assistant must not expect to receive a higher salary than the teacher, or to sit in a more comfortable chair. An assistant must not, on a whim, print words like "President" on his business card.

As such, I no longer plan on continuing my role as assistant, henceforth and forevermore.

- i

eisenhower (or: "A view on postwar history from 1958")

On the evening of September 21, 1958, Sonny Rollins was alone on the Brooklyn Bridge, practicing away at scales on a tenor saxophone as it slowly grew dark around him. 
"Hey mister, what'cha doing?" asked a passing boy.
Sonny answered, "I'm fighting an atomic monster." 
"You liar!" said the boy.

At precisely the same moment, President Eisenhower was right in the middle of the New Mexican desert, commanding the troops as a heroic battle to the death unfolded against a horrible atomic monster with four gigantic claws. The Secretary of State explained the ground situation in an exhausted tone: "Mr. President, at this rate the Earth will be annihilated. Our weapons are simply no match for it." 

"May God forgive us. For we have brought forth unto this world that which was never meant to be," muttered the President.
The atomic monster snapped its claws as it advanced, trampling tanks and artillerymen alike.

My 9-year-old self yelled to my mother's back while she was in the kitchen. "Hey, are the donuts ready yet?"

- m