Once upon a time while reading Yaraon, I stumbled upon THIS article. “Otto no Chinpo ga Hairanai” (or “My Husband’s Cock Won’t Fit”) by Kodama – a non-fiction book storming the bestselling book charts. Why of course my favorite shitty net tabloid picked up this news item. The title easily remains in memory, doesn’t it? It certainly did remain in mine, since I recently encountered the book again after all those years and decided to read this meme novel. Or is it not a joke at all? Whatever is the case, the book sold enough to warrant a TV series and a movie based on it. There has to be something relatable about it then.
Well then, is it entirely about somebody’s husband’s cock? Before anything else, it’s an autobiography of confessional character. Not a famous person’s autobiography, but still an interesting and dramatic story – so well-rounded and literarily written, it’s hard to believe it’s not fiction at times. A sad, tough to read story. Though also funny at times. And as sleazy as you’d expect from the title. In the tradition of Japanese literature, biographies of losers like this one have been called shishousetsu or “I-novels“. Read Dazai or Katai for more.
The novel is written from first person perspective and the woman whose life we’re told about has no name, but for convenience’s sake I’ll be calling her the author’s name. Kodama was born in the deep province, a tiny, oppressive settlement in northeastern Japan, where bears roam and the feeling of civilization slowly leaving these parts drives people insane. Her family – a poisonous gathering of people only with increasing their chances of survival as their reason for huddling together. At school, when asked why people form marriages and have children, she genuinely has no idea. Her parents hate each other, after all. Kodama is the oldest of the family’s three daughters so she’s had it the worst, but they all had a tough childhood spent on avoiding her vapid’s mother’s rage. She never knew what might make her mom throw a fit, so she grew to be a person terrified of humans, hiding every and anything possible from the outside world out of fear. Though now she’s an adult, she’s grappling with being a human wreck for the entire duration of this story and beyond. That’s what this book is about.
However, relief is near. Kodama is now an adult, moves to the city and starts college. Although the dorm she lives in looks rickety, she’s more than satisfied at being far from her family. The first day in her new residence, she’s visited by a male neighbor. He’ll eventually become her boyfriend, and then her husband. She could have met someone who’d make her already miserable life even worse, but her husband turns out to be a (moderately) good dude.
And then THAT happens. That titular thorn in her side, a problem constantly present in the back of her mind, tormenting the woman. The two try having sex and… his cock won’t fit. All attempts at coitus end in pain and blood. As if her life wasn’t shitty enough, fate decides to add an insult to injury and disables them from having sex. Kodama tries to find a solution, but all signs point to her being the only woman who’s ever had that problem. And so, pleasuring her husband manually is her only option. The question I was asking myself through a large bit of the book was: why not go to a doctor? Because she doesn’t. I guess she’s too socially clueless. And since her parents raised her to be self-hating and selfless, she now has a new guilt-producing emotional burden to carry. Later, like a hopeful epiphany, she comes up with the idea to try lube, but it doesn’t do much.
Eventually, husband finishes college and becomes a high school teacher and a year later, Kodama becomes a teacher herself at an elementary school. Though struggling with human interaction (the children are fine, but adults are absolute shit), Kodama continues to live bravely. At least until she switches schools and becomes the teacher in charge of a problematic class nobody else wanted. Was it their previous teacher who was the problem or was it the class? At first, the kids behave, but after a short period of them doing reconnaisance on their new teacher, all hell breaks loose. The parents of the class’s leader, Miyuki belong to a cult – the girl hardly ever sees them. On some days the girl causes no trouble, but oftentimes, to vent her frustrations, she abuses their teacher with some enthusiastic help from the rest of the class. Kodama sees her behavior for what it is – a call for help, and tries to intervene by contacting her parents, to no avail. Selfless as always, she blames herself for not being able to do anything more for the child in her care, while things only get worse and worse. The woman has nobody to help her, having once won herself some disdain from the other teachers. She can’t sleep, vomits from the stress and contemplates suicide everytime she goes to school in the morning, only to go to work and suffer through another day anyway.
Meanwhile, her husband starts going to a local fuuzokuten to get his rocks off. And doesn’t put any effort into hiding it from his wife, too. Later, he’ll catch an STD. She knows everything, but never stops being good to her spouse. Even when, as a successful educator admired by his students, he goes on tirades about the high requirements he has of fellow teachers. The standards she can’t live up to.
At a point, she starts writing a blog – or rather, a simple net diary, since the internet at the time was so young, nobody yet knew what a blog is. Sadposting about her disaster of a life gives her some consolation, and also some unexpected new acquaintances. Men start emailing her, asking for a meeting in real life. As she’ll learn later, Kodama should have cared more about where she started her diary – it was on a service belonging to a porn site. Horny dudes thought her blog is only a quirky way of advertising herself. On a lark, she responds to one of them, a middle-aged uncle type. And thus, The Twist, a bolt from the blue happens. The end up having sex and… it fits! Turns out it wasn’t her who was defective. This huge discovery makes her lose control – she soon gets addicted to having sex with random dudes from the internet on weekends. Some of them as weird and mentally warped as she is. She does it partly to make up for the lost time, but mostly to vent – she’s under immense stress at work, after all.
Kodama survives a year at her school – the awareness that she can just quit her job instead of suffering in silence slowly dawns on her and she goes through with it. Since she’s now jobless and recovering from the hell of teaching, her mother nags the woman into having children. Before she can even try, however, a strange disease comes over her – she can’t move her joints. Turns out it’s an autoimmunological disease caused by extreme stress – her body is out to kill her. And it decided to do so now that the danger is gone, to boot. The pharmaceuticals she has to take now make pregnancy something out of the question. After a while, Kodama slowly gets back to teaching on an irregular basis. And then, due to an early onset of menopause, the option to have children disappears for her forever…
In 2014, when the novel was written down and published, Kodama was almost forty. Her struggles continue to this day. It’s a true story, and definitive endings (not to mention happy endings) don’t happen in those. Unless when you die. Or maybe I should call Otto no Chinpo ga Hairanai a story partly based in reality – I can’t easily believe in somebody as pure, good, and altruistic as Kodama existing. I can’t help but wish her luck.