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The Essay
Show #245
The Benefits of Eating Nuts
David Gunn

Canadian Wingate hunkered over a plate of particularly peppery pecans in his cousin's bungalow that sat half in and half out of a forgotten fork of the Gauley River in Bung Hollow, West Virginia, a town whose Native American name translated as Place Where Great Bear Once Took Lives of Many Warriors Before Noble Brave Ood-nuun-tunk Vanquished Mighty Beast with Old Look-Behind-Squaw Trick. As he reviewed the utter illogic of the levitational ears he had just witnessed, Wingate abruptly realized that, happily, he hadn't bitten his tongue in the recent foreseeable past. Without a helpful law of science to explain the synchronous movements of the eighty-some orphaned organs and keep his attention focused on the present, that thought quickly led to his recalling a 1993 study in the New England Journal of Medicine that touted the benefits of eating nuts. The article instantly created an uproar from a few narrow-minded rights groups for the mentally ill who thought that dining on them was a poor substitute for managed health care. Over time, however, the benefits of a humanely sautéed lunatic proved to greatly outweigh the disadvantages. It was, for example, much cheaper than keeping some madman institutionalized under the care of professional lobotomists for years on end. Also, it provided a useful source of protein to the human food chain. But then the article had lost credibility when it concluded "the next time you're panhandled by some creepy schizophrenic with the delirium tremens, don't shrink back in disgust; instead, get out your knife and fork and dig in!" Wingate shuddered at the memory of one skid row hors d'oeuvre he'd especially enjoyed back in Saskatoon. He also remembered what had become of the man's ears and nose and eyes, as well as hundreds -- no, thousands! -- of others, and he wondered if perhaps the results of those abominable experiments were finally coming full circle. As if in response, his tongue suddenly leapt out of his mouth and started poking and lashing his face and arms. Being comprised mostly of soft fleshy tissue, it didnít do much damage. Still, Wingate was terrified at this seemingly spontaneous outburst from one of his favorite organs and, because he was unable to control it through normal brain-to-body part motor channels, he instinctively fought back -- he bit it. The tongue yelped and ducked back into his mouth. At the same time, a rogue game of dodgem sprang up in his inner ear, causing his sense of equilibrium to go on holiday, and he keeled over onto his nose. Normally, this would have been a shock to his nasal system, but it, too, had suddenly refused to limit activity to snuffling and warehousing inorganic salts and it was thrashing about like an animatronic cauliflower in a vegetarian bowling alley ... which was a debatable analogy, indeed, but Wingate had lost his sense of humor along with his equilibrium. Inches from his splayed nostrils on the table was an appeal from the local community food shelf. As he imagined entrusting his set of World Book Encyclopedias to a piece of furniture made out of, say, lime Jell-o, he sensed that his sanity was following right on the heels of his humor and equilibrium. And still his sensory organs weren't done with him. Now the pupils of his eyes began to simultaneously dilate and contract, causing the vitreous humor to froth in a decidedly unfunny manner. By the time his cousin found him and applied ear to ear resuscitation, he felt like a North Dakota missile silo that Godzilla had mistaken for a bidet.

Gradually, normalcy returned to Canada Wingate's senses, and he was able to gaze vertigo-free out the bungalow's window at eighty-some noses hovering expectantly over the dark Appalachian river waters. Bung Hollow Wingate glanced from the ears to his cousin. "You can maybe explain this phenomenon now?" It was more an allegation than a question. "Yes," replied his cousin wearily. "But it's not so much a phenomenon as it is a cautionary tale. Sit down. It's a long and convoluted story" ... a story which, alas, is simply too longvoluted for this 245th episode of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar, but one which we hope will at least attempt to show up for next week's exciting but potentially inconclusive chapter.