*These 5 stories make up the novel titled イン・ザ・プール
5. イン・ザ・プール (In the Pool)
Japanese Level: ☆☆☆
Kazuo was suffering from some major work related stress. It was making him both mentally and physically ill. After going to the local mental health clinic, he decides to follow some simple advice: get some exercise. Willing to do anything to feel better, Kazuo tries swimming at a nearby indoor pool. He is refreshed beyond belief, and is blown away at the positive feelings he is having. So he invests in some nice swim trunks, a book on swim technique, and begins making this a daily habit.
Things are great. He feels alive.
Until swimming is all he can think about. Every morning for 2 hours, seven days a week. The exhilaration and endorphins flow. Regardless of where he is during the day, his mind is always in swim mode. His mental clinic doctor, Dr. Irabu sees his changes and decides he wants to try swimming too. And soon his doctor is addicted as well. But 2 hours a day is not enough. Kazuo starts leaving work early every day for another two hours at night, also 7 days a week.
His wife tells him he has an unhealthy addiction. Kazuo scoffs at this idea. But he knows he wants to swim more. If only there was a way to swim uninterrupted for hours on end. He and his now also swimming doctor hatch a plan, to attain the ultimate swimmer’s high…
4. 勃ちっ放し(Left Standing)
Japanese Level: ☆☆☆
Tetsuya suffers from a rare and extremely embarrassing disorder that suddenly sprung up out of nowhere. After a strange and erotic dream about his ex-wife of 3 years ago who was cheating on him, he woke up as many guys do.
On the way to the bathroom still half asleep, he bumps into a book case which smashes a heavy book in the worst place possible. After recovering from excruciating pain, Tetsuya has a big problem. His 息子 (“son”) won’t go down. Rushing to the hospital, Dr. Irabu tells him it’s a rare case, but it should kind of sort itself out.
But Tetsuya’s job and life can’t just be put on hold. He has to find a way to carry on normally, without anyone finding out about his humiliating ailment. He also has to find a solution, as after weeks go by with no reprieve, he starts to realize the cause may be due to repressed anger towards his ex-wife he was never able to release.
3. コンパニオン (Companion)
Japanese Level: ☆☆☆
Hiromi was a struggling model. She had made some television appearances, was featured in magazines, but now her job mostly is being a party “companion.” She was hired to be the beautiful girl at the party. But she hadn’t given up on her dreams.
She starts feeling that she is being stalked. She knows she’s beautiful, and guys can’t leave her alone, and wherever she goes she feels she’s been watched and followed, morning to night. Her friend suggests going to a mental health clinic. There Dr. Irabu tells her she should dress down, stop wearing make up, and just act like an overall slob. Then people will stop stalking her. But she can’t do that. Not if she wants to be the greatest model there ever was. As she becomes more and more paranoid, people start keeping their distance.
Dr. Irabu continues to give her advice, at the same time falling in love with her, and decides to start changing his appearance so that she’ll like him. The two together continue to fall together into a narcissistic spiral.
2. フレンズ (Friends)
Japanese Level: ☆☆
Yuudai has an addiction. His mobile phone. If he lets go of it for a few minutes his hand starts to shake. He needs it. He sends 200 texts a day and must be in contact with his friends at all times. His parents make him go to the local mental health clinic to resolve this issue (this story was written in 2002, so it was before this type of thing was widespread).
Yuudai meets Dr. Irabu, who rather than give him advice, wants to know all about his cell phone life. Dr. Irabu never had a cell phone, and now that he sees how cool it is, he must have one. Yuudai gives him some advice, and “passes on” his addiction to his doctor. Yuudai normally wouldn’t care but now he is being texted dozens of times a day by Dr. Irabu about what he is eating or what he is doing.
Yuudai doesn’t see a problem with his mobile phone connected life. It makes him cool and always available for his friends. So what happens when his phone dies and he has to wait for a new one? What happens when he realizes his friends don’t really care about him as much as he thought. Can he break the habit?
1. いてもたっても (Can’t Relax)
Yoshio went to the library to try to find what was wrong with him. He went through all of the medical mental illnesses and finally found the one that matched him: 確認行為の習慣化 (someone who compulsively checks things over and over again).
How did this happen? He’s never had any problems before. Just one day when he put out his cigarette in his apartment he had a strange flash of it causing a fire while he was out of the house. He couldn’t very well quit smoking, so he had to make sure that the butts he put out were really out. Otherwise his apartment might catch fire. So he ends up at Dr. Irabu’s clinic for an answer.
“If you are going to worry about cigarette butts causing a fire, you might as well worry about your gas stove, and your electrical outlets.”
And so Yoshio did. Not only did he have to check for cigarette butts, but his gas stove, and all electrical outlets. His daily check routine just to get out of the house was now up to 2 hours, and he just couldn’t feel comfortable outside any more.
Going back and forth between obsession and Dr. Irabu’s office, things get worse, or better, and Yoshio is taught the difference between the “worry causing” and the “worriers.”
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