The Usual

cocktail in a glass

A psychiatrist was in the habit of stopping into a local bar after a day of treating patients. The daily routine never varied. The bartender would greet him with a cheery “Hi, Doc!” The doctor would pull up a stool and say, “The usual, please.” And the bartender would serve the doctor his usual.

“The usual” in this case was pretty unusual. It was an odd drink the psychiatrist had learned about during a stay in Mexico years earlier. The drink was a daiquiri — an ordinary daiquiri, except for the addition of a chunk of walnut. No other customer drank this odd mixture, but the bartender kept a small store of walnuts handy for the daily order.

One day, however, the bartender got careless and ran out of walnuts. His customer was due in about ten minutes. The bartender searched the premises and finally discovered, not what he was looking for, but a supply of hickory nuts left over from a party. He decided to make the substitution, hoping the psychiatrist wouldn’t notice the difference.

“Hi, Doc!” he called out as his customer came in. “The usual, please,” the doctor said, seating himself on his favorite stool. The bartender mixed up the drink, chopped the hickory nut, added it to the mixture, and served the glass to his customer. “Enjoy,” he said, pretending an interest in the glasses he was wiping.

He watched the psychiatrist take a sip and saw a look of perplexity cross the doctor’s face. Another sip. More perplexity. The doctor put down the drink and waved to the bartender, who smiled and said, “Yes, Doc?”

“I have a question to ask you,” the doctor said. “Please tell me the truth. Is this or is this not a walnut daiquiri?”

“Afraid not,” the bartender said sheepishly. “Actually, it’s a hickory daiquiri, Doc.”