by Toby Pakula
Hi, do you remember me? We spoke at Kristen’s birthday party. What did we talk about? Books and movies, mostly. We discussed M. Night Shyamalan, and I’m pretty sure we had a long conversation about Thomas Pynchon.
You don’t remember me? I’m the guy who overuses the word “trope.”
No matter what I talk about, I find a way to employ it. Why? First of all, I like the way it sounds. Go ahead, say it out loud.
More than that, I like the way it sounds coming out of my mouth. I’ve said it so many times, in so many contexts — from noisy bars, to quiet funerals, to my high-school valedictorian speech — that my mouth has actually grown around the word. Watch me as I say it.
Pretty good, huh? Do I ring a bell, now?
You know what’s also nice about saying “trope”? It can afford you dominance in a conversation. As crazy as it sounds, a lot of people don’t know what the word means, but they’re too ashamed to admit it — especially after I’ve used it six or seven times in the span of two minutes.
You still don’t remember me? Boy, what’s it going to take?
How else can I get you to remember me as the guy who overuses the word “trope”? I have a good idea. Tell me the titles movies you like, and I’ll automatically deride as them as full of lame tropes. Ready?
“Mentally unstable girl deceives, but it turns out she’s got a heart of gold.” Trope, trope!
“The Green Mile?”
“Magical black man exists to heal white man from some affliction.” Could you have picked a lamer trope?
“Little Miss Sunshine?”
Let’s see. “Workaholic ignores his family for his career, fails at work, but it’s okay because he realizes all he needs anyway is his family.” The tropiest of tropes!
I’ve got an idea. Tell me a little something about yourself, and then, as I normally do, I’ll try to insert the word “trope” into my snide response, okay?
You’re a barista, huh? Hmm. Give me more. Oh, I see. You’d like to be a writer. Fantastic. “Coffee shop worker with artistic aspirations” — oh no, not that old trope. You’re killing me!
Now do you remember feeling slightly offended by my glib remarks reducing you to a trope, as well as unease because you didn’t understand what I was implying? No? Crap.
Let’s give it one more try. I’m going to …
Hey, where are you going? Come back here. Don’t tell me you’re pulling out that old trope, “intellectually inferior woman repelled by man who overuses the word ‘trope.’”