People can be so quick to whittle you down to a logline. She’s a ray of sunshine, that Mavis. Keith’s a buzzkill. Sal’s a Sagittarius.

Me? I’m a downer, I guess. A first-class brass bummer. Two little syllables. You know what they are. Don’t make me say them. Two little syllables, identical on paper but aural Olsen twins. You know what that means. Say them out loud. See? Hear? Subtle nuances. Distinct but analogous ups and downs. Whatever’s the opposite of an exclamation point, that’s all I am to the world. A thud. I’m a god-damned thud.

It’s like, you have one extensive bout of depression sophomore year and then you’re perpetually incapable of positivity, you’re the international poster child for sads and bads and lame jokes by dads. I’ve had some dark times, sure, but I’m in a really good place now. Yes, it took a while to muck through the darkness; an arduous quest to slay childhood dragons and silence the clacking skeletons of my gravest mistakes. But I did it. And I came out happier. Stronger. It’s exhilarating.

Listen, I get it. It’s fun to put things into boxes. It helps us to pass judgment so that we might understand and accept our own place in the universe amid a panoply of existential chaos. That’s what my therapist says. Her name is Elena. Elena’s a pragmatist. Elena wants me to pursue self-actualization through a series of ascending arpeggios and soft tonguing. Oh, grow up. It’s a thing.

If you care to, imagine being condemned to live out your life as a caricature of your lowest moment. Because that’s what it’s like for me. I’m not an iconic instrument with 15th century origins that heralds royal arrivals and leads Iowan parades; I’m just two sad syllables, I’m a dad joke, I’m that guy who fell into the French onion dip one time on New Year’s Eve eleven years ago whose name still comes up at parties. Let me tell you something: That guy’s name is Dale. And Dale sucks.

They laugh about Dale, and they laugh at him, and then they decrescendo from their spittled chortles to take a breather before transitioning into an entirely different story about some asshole in Biz Ops.

But before they do, they close Dale’s parentheses, with those two little syllables. Womp womp.

Those two little syllables. I said them. You made me. You’re a monster. We all are, in the end. Even Mavis.