Walking the Rx Red Carpet

Where do you get the scoop on the drug industry’s hot new products? Why, at the Rx spring show, that’s where! Our writer makes nice with the celebrated followers of pharmaceuticals.

Hi! I’m Toby Seamon, and as you can see, I am LIVE, backstage at the annual pharmaceutical spring show. As usual, the unveiling is complete mayhem. All the stars of the industry are here, their prescription wares proudly displayed. The year’s newest, hippest, under-the-counter trends are just waiting, so let’s dig in!

Hey, was that the man formerly known as Puff-Daddy? Wonder if he got an invite? Not an easy thing to come by in this town, let me tell you. The highly secretive, VIP list was mailed only to, ‘the elderly, the infirm, the impoverished, and the totally fucked in the head.’ Luckily my Nanna qualified in all categories and I snagged one while she was sleeping off the mickey I slipped her. The things I do for my job, hahaha.

All right, here we are in front of the Skizer, Inc., booth. And what a display, huh? Two slick-haired reps with flashy suits, flashy smiles, and flashy shoes. You guys all flunked your pre-med courses and became salesmen, didn’t you?

Two Reps: [together] That’s right, Toby, we sure did! So, Toby, how do you like the show so far?

Toby: Other than the soulless drones constantly shouting my name in order to make a power presentation, it’s just fabulous. So, what does Skizer have in store for us this year?

Rep 1: [suddenly very serious] Toby, I have to tell you, Skizer has never felt so proud or so patriotic. Desperate times require desperate measures, you know.

Toby: No, I do not know that at all. Explain in an essay of no more than five pages, including relevant examples to support your thesis.

Rep 1: Haha, the parent company doesn’t seem to have included a thesis in my presentation pack. You’ll know what we mean once you get a taste of our spring line, though. Ted, you want to take it from here?

Ted: Sure thing, Rep 1! First up is Paxromanica. Now in special Blackhawk chopper-shaped chewables, Paxromanica causes deep, abiding, and complete faith in the imperial future of the United States. PR, as we call it at the shop, was designed and created in same underground lab that Dick Cheney now lives in. In fact, the VP personally oversaw many of PR’s clinical trials, all of which were conducted in the strictest secrecy. There was a leak, though, and for a while Bono could be heard singing at the lab’s front door, but we wouldn’t let him in.

Toby: He didn’t know the secret knock, did he?

Ted: No, he wasn’t even close! It was kind of messed up. The Veep really wanted to have a photo taken of them together in lab coats, but a secret knock is a secret knock…

Rep 1: [interjecting] Okay, Ted, I’ll carry this baby to the end zone. This brings us to Lobotomar. The ‘dirty bomb’ of pharmaceuticals, Lobotomar cures all users of belief they require any other meds for anything. Thirty years of insulin injections, all out the window with Lobotomar, which will be available only from the back pages of Better Homes and Gardens.

Toby: Aside from being criminally dangerous, why buried in the rear of a magazine?

Rep 1: Ha, Toby, you’ve got it all wrong. We believe that prescriptions need to think outside of the box. That’s why Skizer is going to establish backyard, poolside cabana-style booths—just like this one!—in wealthy suburban enclaves all across the country. And if a doctor doesn’t happen to be lounging around the diving board or drunkenly groping his neighbor’s wife, we’re going to have samples stockpiled just in case.

Toby: Wow, I think crossed the end zone now. Thanks guys, and I want that essay by last bell, haha.

Ted and Red 1: [pounding Toby on back] Sure thing, Toby, sure thing!

Toby: Only at the Rx spring show, kids, only at the Rx show. Now, up here, we have a young, hot company that really took last year’s show by storm. They call themselves Fiend Drugs & Sundries, and they mean it. These people are savages. How are you doing today?

Fiend: Yo.

Toby: Yo-yo, you mean.

Fiend: Have I met you before?

Toby: Yeah, we had a very meaningful chat three seconds ago.

Fiend: I knew I knew you from somewhere!

Toby: ‘Somewhere’ is right. So what do you guys have on the slate for 2003?

Fiend: We have one word for the world…

Toby: [after waiting very long time] You were saying?

Fiend: What the fuck? Are you with the cops?

Toby: Pull it together, man! This is cable-access TV we’re on. Your under-employed father could be watching! ‘One word’—that’s where you left off.

Fiend: Damn straight! One love, one heart, let’s get together and feel alright. So, here’s the word: Dopaxil.

Toby: Dopaxil? That was one of Godzilla’s enemies, wasn’t it?

Fiend: No, dude, I’ve seen them all and there wasn’t any Dopaxil. You’re thinking of Richard Nixon. Dopaxil is the anti-drug drug. It eliminates addiction to opiates, alcohol, nicotine, sleep, etc. Even hash.

Toby: Even hash? That’s great! It really is. I can’t believe it. Any side effects?

Fiend: Blindness, retardation, short-bowel syndrome, crankiness, eye tearing, clogged arteries, periodic bouts of schizophrenia, and acid indigestion, though not ‘acid ingestion,’ hahahahaha.

Toby: That’s not great at all. That sucks. I have to say, there’s been a lot of rumors that Dopaxil is actually more addictive than any of the drugs it professes to cure.

Fiend: Who told you that? The cops?

Toby: No, my Nanna after she boosted a car trying to raise the cash for another prescription. For viewers out there, Dopaxil costs $320 per pill. So you deny Dopaxil is itself addictive?

Fiend: Dude, totally. Do you want to try some? My car is parked right out back…

Toby: Not if my Nanna woke up it isn’t. Thanks though! Okay, what to my wondering eyes deceive? It’s a pinstriped booth, with some kind of talking-head sports guy at a microphone. See, this is what the Rx show is all about—totally bizarre shit! How are you doing, Mr. Head?

Talking Head: I’m great, Toby. We’re live, ringside, waiting for these championship warriors to throw out the first pitch. And there’s the coin flip…and it’s heads, like me! Do you see this race coming down to the wire, Toby?

Toby: God help me.

Talking Head: Goooooooaaaaaaaaaaal!

Toby: God is always my goal. Now, please tell me what drugs you have so I can get the hell away from you?

Talking Head: This intermission report is brought to you by Bambinoril. Highly popular in the Boston/New England region, Bambinoril cures Red Sox fans of the Curse of the Bambino, giving them a fresh love and respect for the New York Yankees. Instead of the usual, ‘Yankees suck’ comments, users of Bambinoril will be heard saying, ‘You know, when I think about it, New York really does deserve all those titles. A victory for the Yankees is like a victory for mankind.’ Bambinoril is available at fine discount stores everywhere! Back to the studio with Hacksaw and Jack!

Toby: Thanks, head! Here’s to bending it like Beckham.

Talking Head: No problem, pod’ner! Roll, Tide, roll!

Toby: Damn, that was a truly awful experience. Sorry folks. Keep the camera rolling, though, I think I see one more booth up ahead. Ah, the best for last. Here we are at Globally Global Co., the leading purveyor of drugs worldwide. So, has the reach exceeded the grasp yet?

Global Man: Not by a long shot, Toby. What we want, we take. And then we give back in charitable ways that no one ever sees, understands, or really benefits from.

Toby: That’s very effective, I must say. I’m sure all those third-world, human guinea pigs thank you from the bottom of their birth-defected hearts. I see you’ve got a table just chock full of new products.

Global Man: Yes we do! First up—and we really think this is going to be a winner—Liaral. The ultimate in truth serums, Liaral cures would-be terrorists of lying so we can get to the bottom of their evil schemes. In fact, I just took some an hour ago to see what it tastes like and I have to say, my god, this stuff is absolute crap. It doesn’t work at all. I mean, I’d know, wouldn’t I? Then again, I don’t sleep so well anymore, just watch TV all night feeling guilty about how shitty the world is. Even my son in the eleventh grade is weirded out. What can I say? I mean, really, how does a parent talk to a teen? Especially when you look at them in those goddamn baggy clothes, listening to all that violent crap on the radio, trying to act like a thug and failing social studies when you know the kid is really just a geek who likes to collect stamps. You see him slink into the house at 3AM on a Tuesday night and you think, ‘My god, did I make that? Is that mine? Take it away!’

Toby: Take it away indeed. You want a moment to collect yourself or should I go on letting you ruin a once-promising career?

Global Man: You know, Toby, let’s play the sucker out. I feel good for the first time in years. Like I’m clean again.

Toby: [taking glasses off and rubbing eyes] Ho-kay. What else do you have, and please don’t tell me you took anything else.

Global Man: Oh, I took one of everything, just like my deep-rooted fears told me to. Named after the illustrious author Jonathan Franzen, here, in impossible to swallow caplets, is Franzenal.

Toby: Not since I caught my Nanna in bed with a garden rake have I ever been so afraid to ask a question, but what does Franzenal do?

Global Man: Friend, Franzenal is the ultimate laxative. One dose of this and all your shit will be gone like it was never there in the first place.

Toby: Enough! Just stop it, it’s too much. Folks, I apologize for the rude maniac next to me. He’s come unglued. I think it’s just a breath mint he’s talking about. Now what the hell are you doing?

Global Man: It’s Sexohale, baby! For those feeling sexual dysfunction of any sort—and who hasn’t felt that huh?—one sniff from the patented Sexohale inhaler provides users almost orgasmic sensations just by moving their arms around very fast. It’s like flapping!

Toby: I see the potential for abuse here. You know, dance-club injuries, all that.

Global Man: Are you kidding? We and the FDA intend to keep very, very strict control of Sexohale so that teenagers do not have any access whatsoever. If a few slip out and end up in the hands of CEOs at scotch-and-cigar bars or in unmarked packages in my garage, well, that’s just a bridge we’ll flap across when we get to it.

Toby: Anything else, you sick fuck?

Global Man: Optimax—a lozenge that makes the entire world seem rational, majestic, and beautiful, even if it’s completely lame and makes no sense whatsoever. Tastes like The Matrix.

Toby: That’s it. We’re finished here. Live from the red carpet at the Rx spring show, for myself and all the other twisted bastards, take two Optimaxs and hope Sexohale will love you tomorrow. Thanks!


Tobias Seamon recently published the novella The Fair Grounds. More can be found here. More by Tobias Seamon