Blue Diamond Floor Almonds with Drug Dinner
In order to taste these almonds you must be on the floor of my father's sixteen seater passenger van. He never had sixteen passengers in there. He just filled it with trash. At first I was reluctant. In fact, I just thought of them as garbage along with the pistachio shells and bread crusts. As I cleaned, I only saved the small change, nickels and pennies. My father looked in, heartbroken.
"Nooo!" he cried in anger and despair. He was genuinely hurt. "Those are my floor almonds!" Recovering he said, "Try one."
I picked one up from the carpet where an indentation remained and slid it into my mouth. It was the most delicious almond I had ever tasted. It was fresh and sweet like a raisin, moist inside, and golden brown like the slender evening sun. Why were they so good? I now recalled my father plucking them from the floor as he drove for many weeks so why weren’t they stale? I ate them as I went, saving the extras in a plastic bag.
I was cleaning out the van because we had a drug dinner. This is when a big pharmaceutical company will take you out to an expensive dinner with other psychiatrists. In order to eat at a drug dinner you have to be a psychiatrist, or, like me, the son of a psychiatrist. Actually, in my ten years of attending them, with the exception of my brother, I've never seen another son of a psychiatrist there.
The company will tell you why their drug helps with anxiety, or bipolar disorder, or manic depression over light mixed greens and cocktails. Over the main course they will dutifully render the potential side effects while in the same stroke dismissing them. You might notice there is a cosmic balance to the mind. For example the erectile dysfunction drug has depression side effects while the anti-depressant has sexual side effects. If you took them both, maybe you would be ok.
If you go, do not choose the chicken. Your best bet is the steak, or if you're going healthy, the salmon with grilled vegetables. There are no other options. Remember to order an expensive drink, like a scotch, or at least a mineral water, because they have to pay for it. You may insult the lecturing psychiatrist with impunity, because he's just a hired gun who has betrayed his Hippocratic sensibilities for a briefcase full of disgusting corporate cash.
My father, always contemptuous of the orators, would whisper slanders to me in his thick Czech accent, his mouth full of tender greens. The graph would rise, showing potentially happy people and he would say:
"It is the same as HEROIN."
And a moment later, "absolute POISON."
Don't ask questions. In the end, they only prolong the wait to dessert, usually an outrageously thick chocolate cake, deeper and darker than the most terrifying depression. Don't take more than one box of sample medications when you leave, like my father does, because I just end up cleaning them all out of the van after a few months as I did when I collected his floor almonds. I showed him the pile of medications, maybe ten thousand dollars worth, with the bag of floor almonds.
"Throw that garbage out!" he instructed, pointing to the medication. World War II and then Stalinism had him hoarding food. In every car were blankets, bottled water, cans, and a can opener. "Any day now it could be complete anarchy." he mused as he peeled open a can of kidney beans in the parking lot sipping first the juice and then taking gulps of the beans with his Swiss army knife. "Save those almonds!"