I love learning new things but sometimes a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. The other day I learned that there’s something called the Mariko Aoki phenomenon and it’s when you go into a bookstore and feel the need to make a beeline for the bathroom. This is not a new idea–people have kept reading material in the throne room for, well, at least a few hundred years, although it probably doesn’t predate the invention of movable type and mass production of printed materials that made books cheaper and more widely available. Outhouses also have a reputation for being a place for doing some quiet cogitating–in fact an English professor told me one of James Boswell’s diaries was found in an old London lavatory that had been sealed up for more than a century. Fortunately Boswell left while it was still in service so he wasn’t found in there with it. And while the invention of toilet paper may not have been directly inspired by the Sears catalog the original wish book was commonly kept in johns where it wasn’t just used for reading.
The connection between reading and, well, taking care of other business may be what causes the Mariko Aoki phenomenon. At least that’s what I think. People’s brains start to associate one with the other and, well, what happens in the tubes that carry our thoughts around affects the larger tubes down in the boiler room.
This is not an issue for me, maybe because I don’t normally read with my pants down. But just thinking about it, well, that can cause things to start happening, and that’s where the problem happened. I learned about the Mariko Aoki phenomenon while listening to Wait! Wait! Don’t Tell Me! on the radio in the car. Normally I listen to Wait! Wait! at home, except for the time we went to see it live here in Nashville and I knew more about Vincent Price than Vince Gill, but that’s another story. It happened to be on during a long drive. And Peter Sagal and crew went into so much detail about the phenomenon I, well, let’s just say I started to have a little phenomenon of my own going on and I had to get home really quickly.
And that’s all I really want to say about it now because I have to go.