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

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“Yes, that is a very real problem.”

“Oh, it looks like we have a caller on line one. Hello, you’re in A Box Full Of Minds. Go ahead please.”

“Hello? Am I on?”

“Yes, did you have a question or comment for Dr. Gudenov regarding Mentia?”

“Well, yes. It’s hard to talk about without getting a little choked up, but my father has the M-word.”

“The M-word, right.”

“And I’ve tried to get him to stay on his meds, but it’s impossible. Just impossible! I don’t know, maybe he flushes them. But he will not stop working crossword puzzles, and I mean the really advanced ones. He insists on using his tools to repair things! He reads Popular Mechanics!”

“Oh, my, are they still publishing that? Dr. Gudenov?”

“I’m afraid so, Katie.”

“I am at my wit’s end! He will not watch the duck show, Honey Boo Boo, none of that! I’m just afraid he’s going to do something … I don’t know … I hate to say it, but I think he’s capable of doing something … smart. There, I said it.”

“You poor dear. We all feel for you. Dr. Gudenov, would you like to comment?”

“Katie, as much as I hate to say it, your caller’s situation is actually typical. These sorts of behaviors, no matter how distressful for other family members, are all too common. Again, I have to stress that part of the problem is the fact that before the disease was fully understood, the behaviors associated with it were often considered benign or even encouraged. What was the big deal if Grampa wanted to build things in his shop behind the house? Who cared if Gramma read highly technical literature? Fortunately, we came to realize the fallacies inherent in that sort of lenient attitude. Most healthcare professionals agree that these individuals can and must be encouraged to, for want of a better term, dumb it down a little.”

“Amen. Oh, looks like we have another caller. Hello, welcome to A Box Full of Minds.”

“Hello, thanks for taking my call.”

“You’re very welcome. Did you have a question?”

“More like a comment. You see, my family feels that I have a disease called Mentia, but I don’t believe it’s a disease at all. I believe it’s the natural culmination of education and applied learning.”

“Oh …”

“I believe the problem lies, not with the so-called sufferers of Mentia, but with their less intellectual counterparts, the normal people, if you will.”

“Oh, my …”

“It seems patently obvious to me that the mental processes exhibited by those diagnosed with Mentia are in every way superior to the slop-mindedness that is advocated in the media and by quacks like Dr. Gudenov.”

“Sir, I’ll have to ask you to refrain from name-calling.”

“I listen to your show from time to time, when I have nothing better to do, mostly to stay informed about the decline of intelligence in our society. Now, you claim to be providing a valuable service to your listeners, but the shoddy manner in which you present facts is, to my way of thinking, appalling. Let me give you an example. A couple of weeks ago you interviewed Congressman Bluff about his position on the EPA and water quality. Everything he said in that program contradicted what he had said on your show six months earlier. It seems to me you should be pointing out those inconsistencies and holding him accountable for them. And another …”

“Well, I think we see where that call is headed. I’d like to apologize right now to Congressman Bluff. Our caller’s opinions are his own and obviously impacted by the disease whether he wants to admit it or not. Dr. Gudenov, would you like to comment?”

“Katie, I think this last call clearly illustrates the confrontational, almost combative attitude so often found in sufferers of Mentia. They’re intent on verbalizing their take on the world and finding fault with those of us who may not happen to agree with their assessment. It can be quite stressful for their friends and loved ones.”

“Really. Can you imagine living with that sort of thing 24/7? Sir, whoever you are, my heart goes out to your family. I hope you realize how lucky you are to have someone who sticks with you in spite of your impaired views of reality. I guess I shouldn’t have said that. I got caught up in my own emotional response.”

“Don’t be too hard on yourself, Katie. Instead be grateful that you don’t live with a Mentia patient.”

“Thank you, doctor. I can’t even imagine … Oh, there’s another caller. Hello, you’re on A Box Full of Minds.”

“Yes. Like your previous caller, I too have been diagnosed with Mentia. And frankly I think this diagnosis is a crock. How do you think we exist in a technological world without the Mentive? Do you think radio was invented by a dull-witted simpleton like yourself? What does it take to …”

“That’s enough of that, I think. Dr. Gudenov, anything to say?”

“In a way, I think we are very blessed to receive these calls from Mentia sufferers. What better way to illustrate to your listeners the tragic reality of the disease.”

“What do you think about the comment about the invention of radio?”

“Well, it’s true that Marconi and other inventors have been known to experience mentation at levels higher than we might wish for ourselves, but I think of it a bit like an athlete taking one for the team. They allowed themselves to be immersed in mentation so that you and I would not have to.”

“How true. How noble. I never thought of it that way.”

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  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.


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