Mentioning Mentia

In this short satire, Dr. Phil Gudenov discusses causes and cures for Mentia, a pervasive disease that's affecting Americans, with radio host Katie Brigand.

Mentioning Mentia
Illustration by Amber Arnold © SEPS 2014

Weekly Newsletter

The best of The Saturday Evening Post in your inbox!


Mentioning Mentia
Illustration by Amber Arnold © SEPS 2014

“You’re listening to K double oh K, your source for talk radio in the metroplex. This is A Box Full of Minds and I’m your host, Katie Brigand. My guest this hour is Dr. Phil Gudenov, the author of Mentioning Mentia. Dr. Gudenov, thank you for joining us on A Box Full of Minds.”

“The pleasure is mine, Katie. Thanks for having me.”

“Our regular listeners will recognize Dr. Gudenov from previous programs. He’s a popular guest speaker and his last book, How Smart Is Smart Enough? spent 16 weeks on The New York Times Best Sellers list. Tell us what motivated you to write this new book.”

“Well, Katie, as you know, Mentia is a pervasive problem in America, especially among people over the age of 50. Almost everyone has a family member or knows someone suffering from Mentia.”

“So true. Can you tell our listeners a bit about the causes of this debilitating condition?”

“Sure. So, there are known genetic markers associated with Mentia. If your parents or grandparents have ever been diagnosed with it, your chances of someday suffering from Mentia are significantly higher.”

“Mmmm. A frightening thought.”

“Exactly. No one should have to endure this disruptive attack on their central nervous system to say nothing of the social stigma that is so often associated with Mentia. I’ve written this book to inform people of the signs that indicate the onset of Mentia, what they can do about it if a loved one begins to exhibit these signs, and I provide information on the many healthcare professionals who have devoted their lives to conquering the disease.”

“Can you give us an idea what to look for if we suspect a loved one may be suffering from Mentia?”

“Absolutely. The top 10 signs to watch for are, first, remembering everything. They may have memory issues that will completely disrupt the normal flow of family life. Second, they may be constantly planning ahead and solving problems.”

“Oh, my.”

“Yes. Third, they may be very good at accomplishing tasks, especially familiar tasks. It’s almost like they’re a machine, just getting things done. Fourth, they always know where they are and may be acutely aware of the time. Fifth, their cognitive skills are heightened, they are keenly aware of the meanings of visual images and spatial relationships.”

“My gosh. It’s a little frightening considering just the things you’ve mentioned so far. And that’s not even the whole list, right?”

“Well, yeah, it’s frightening. And there’s more. Three more, no, four … the sixth sign of the onset of Mentia is an excellent command of both speech and the written word. Seventh, they seem to never misplace things, especially things they frequently use. Number eight, they may always exercise excellent judgment. Nine, they are driven to be extremely active in work and social life. And finally, their moods and personalities are utterly predictable.”

“My goodness, that’s a lot to consider. I’m just imagining how I would feel if my mother or father began to exhibit any or, God forbid, all of those symptoms, and I’m frankly terrified at the prospect.”

“Yes, Katie, the challenge can seem overwhelming. But, it’s important to remember that the medical community has made many advances in treating Mentia, and new breakthroughs are anticipated.”

“So, there are medications that have proven effective in alleviating symptoms?”

“Absolutely. Although we do not as yet have a cure, we do have some very effective drugs with a great track record of combating the symptoms and slowing down the progression of Mentia in most individuals.”

“You know, you mentioned the social stigma attached to Mentia. I know it’s politically incorrect in this day and age to think of Mentia sufferers this way, but I sometimes think of them as that cute old person who knows everything. Know what I mean? They’re just kind of cute, the way they insist on everything. I mean, I know I’m wrong to think of them that way, there’s nothing cute per se about this terrible disease, but surely I’m not the only one who sometimes thinks of them as cute or that little smarty pants.”

“No, Katie, you’re not alone. Unfortunately, we have a long history of these people being presented in a comical or even flattering manner in arts and literature. Sherlock Holmes comes to mind, and he’s just one of numerous examples I could mention, if I was the sort of person who liked rattling off lists of relevant data.”

“You’re kidding me.”

“No. Well, yes, a little. What I’m trying to say is that before we understood the disease, we had a tendency to present it in all sorts of media as this benign state of consciousness. We even sometimes implied it was a good thing.”

“Mmmm, mmmm. How far we’ve come.”

“Exactly. No one is immune to Mentia. It can strike anywhere, at anytime. Surely all of us can recall elected officials who’ve gone off on tangents about global warming, tax reform, civil rights, and the like. Imagine the shame you might feel if you were related to one of those highly Mentive politicians. Or the shame they, themselves might feel if and when they returned to a normal state of mind.”

“It gives me the heebie-jeebies.”

“As well it should.”

“Dr. Gudenov, you mentioned drug therapies. Are there other things the average person can do to lessen the likelihood of Mentia?”

“Watch television.”

“Television. I hadn’t thought of that, but it makes perfect sense.”

“And when I say television, I don’t mean indiscriminate viewing of just any program. I mean reality television. The more commercials the better. Fortunately for us, social scientists in the ’90s realized that many TV programs were actually encouraging critical thought. You’ve probably noticed that all that sort of thing has been removed from current programming.”

“But, what of that dear old grandma or grandpa who insists on watching documentaries on DVD or VHS?”

Pages: 1 2 3

Become a Saturday Evening Post member and enjoy unlimited access. Subscribe now


  1. Thanks Bret for this AWESOME story ~~ I really enjoyed reading this kind of humor. Looking forward to more stories !!

  2. Brilliant and very funny! Clever way to deliver a powerful message about the devaluing of critical thinking in American culture, especially by the media. Come on people, wake up…

  3. A perceptive humorous story on the dumbing down of society. The ‘bread and circus’ situation of Rome to distract the public from their country’s collapse. Hope to ‘hear’ more shows from this station.

  4. Hey Bret,
    Well Written and funny. Thanks for sharing. Good luck on your next book. My tenth comes out next month. best and good luck.

  5. Mr. McCormick’s article is hugely funny, but oh so painfully so! I’m torn between laughing and crying…. Maybe I’ll turn on a reality show and just give up on making that decision!

  6. This was exceptionally well written and funny. I loved it. I hope to see more of this author in Friday Fiction.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *