They say you have to train your brain. I did a sudoku today and had to call 911 with a brain cell tangled up in my pancreas. I think my coconut burned out. Now every time I add up, I get hungry. If I do a subtraction, my right eye closes. And if I try to do a square root, I giggle uncontrollably, although that one’s not new. The ensuing phone call with the health insurance company was like a bad trip: I ended up hungry, with one eye closed and in hysterics. All at the same time.
“Tell me, what’s the problem, sir?”
“A very painful wan. I have a neurin tangled up in my pancreas.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“I have a twisted brain cell in my pancreas.”
“How did that happen?”
“I was ding a sudaku.”
“Yes, a sudaku.”
“And why do you say ‘sudaku’ and not ‘sudoku’ like everybody else?”
“Because since the entanglement, I can’t prinunce the A … ”
“You pronounce the A perfectly. You mean the O?”
“Yes, I di.”
“And why’s that?”
“Because it pulls an my pancreas when my muth is in this pisitian.”
“I understand your distress … But you do know that the doctors are at full capacity, don’t you?”
“I’m in isilatiun. Yu’re nit ging to leave me like this, are yu?”
“No, no, no … We can’t leave you with a knotted brain cell in the pancreas! Listen, is it painful to move?”
“Then stay still.”
For a while, after hanging up, I just stood there. Then I realized that that was just silly and that I’d have to sort this mess out myself. I figured that maybe if I put my intellect to work on issues it’s more comfortable with, it might soothe the injury brought on by the sheer mathematical intensity of a sudoku. I knew something like this could happen. I knew that before diving into the sudoku, I should have warmed up with some simple adding and subtracting. But I didn’t. Anxious to lift some heavy math, I jumped straight in, my head overheated, and before I knew it, I had tangled a neuron.
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Now I try some easy brain stretching, switching to one of those question-and-answer video games. The arts and literature questions should be a cinch. I’m an intellectual, for God’s sake. Let’s see. First question: “What color was the handlebar on Julie Andrews’ famous bicycle in Mary Poppins?”
I’m dumbstruck. What humiliates me most is that they actually say “famous bicycle.” I move on to another question: “What’s the name of Dan Brown’s mother-in-law’s dog?” Oh, my God! I hardly know who that illiterate individual is. Suppose, in a fit of realism, the dog was called Dan. I answer firmly, “Dan!” Wrong. Correct answer: “Setkalokfer Pfeimankascet.” How could I ever forget that?
Last try: “In which film does Jeff Bridges cough and say, ‘Aaammm … ‘ while scratching his head like he has lice?” I know that one! It’s one of my favorites! “The Big Lebowski!” I reply excitedly. Wrong. Correct answer: “In all of them.” I give up.
I start moping around the house with that melancholy look that only one who has suffered a tangled brain cell in the pancreas from a high-risk sudoku session can understand. Out the window I can see six other neighbors working their sudokus, and none of them seem to be suffering any painful consequences. One of them is answering a sudoku with his right hand and filling in a crossword puzzle with his left. He’s Chinese. It’s no surprise this virus came out so smart.
I finally decided not to use my brain at all for a few days, which is why I’m writing this diary.
Itxu Díaz is a Spanish journalist, political satirist and author. He has written nine books on topics as diverse as politics, music or smart appliances. He is a contributor to the Daily Beast, the Daily Caller, National Review, the American Conservative, the Federalist, and Diario Las Américas in the United States, and columnist several Spanish magazines and newspapers. He was also an adviser to the Ministry for Education, Culture, and Sports in Spain. Follow him on Twitter at @itxudiaz or visit his website www.itxudiaz.com.
Translated by Joel Dalmau