Are you black? You’re Aisha Tyler.
Are you straight? Thank God. Please proceed.
Do you lock up the coffee shop that you own in Manhattan every night, wondering why love continues to elude you, why you remain friendless and scorned every day, when all you have ever wanted to do is bring happiness and joy to people, which you consider, after all, that you have succeeded in doing in this friendly, colourful establishment that you own, with its large cups of coffee, its comfortable seats and musical guests –and do you then go home to your perfectly agreeable apartment in Brooklyn, which no-one condescends to visit, in which you have not received a single unpaid-for sexual favour in the last five years, and do you stare at your now-thinning hair in your bathroom mirror and recall your teenage years in Düsseldorf, how happy you were as a perky young punk, hanging out in the park with your friends and your dog, Hanno, and listening to Die Toten Hosen on a big boombox for which you had saved up all your earnings from your weekend newspaper round, and do you then remember how one afternoon in the park as night was beginning to fall and there was a throng of red cigarette ends lighting up the faces of your classmates, you smoked a joint with Lotte and she told you, you know what, you’re actually a really sweet guy, and after locking eyes for a second you shyly leaned in for a kiss which she did not refuse you, and how soft it was, how lovely and warm to kiss her, and how touching, between kisses, to feel her smoky breath on your face – and do you then masturbate sadly while wondering what your future holds, and then order some pizza and text your mother? You’re Gunther.
Do you drive your kids to school in the morning feeling full of a jumpy sort of energy, a tingle of excitement at something or other that you cannot immediately place but which, you realise when you think about it long enough, is merely the rush of happiness, of pure contentment and exaltation, and do you feel so overwhelmed with luck that you, yes you, Janice, were blessed with so many and such kind friends, and children so beautiful and inquisitive they make your very heart leap at every minute of the day, and a husband whose calmness and consideration for you are matched always by what seems to you a still undimmed beauty, a very male gorgeousness that kindles desire in you to this day so that when he comes through the door after work and his face brightens to see you feeding the kids in the kitchen and babbling away with them so merrily, you think that if the children weren’t around you would probably jump his bones right then and there in the lobby of this light and airy house you simply cannot believe you own? Do you reflect on your life ten years ago, when you were still searching for your thing, for that breath of life to animate your existence, when every day you felt for some reason belittled and cursed, and do you wonder, good Lord, how did you turn it around, and what might you be doing now if you had not escaped to Boston and married Jeremy on so foolhardy a whim, and reflect that, not to be immodest, but perhaps good things really do happen to good people, and do you laugh your head off to think that it happened to you, to simple, little old Janice? You’re Janice.
Are you in your sixties and still in possession of a luxuriant moustache, and do you sometimes still catch sight of yourself in a car window by accident and think, “Wow, who’s that?” and then realise it’s you and, heck, you’ve still got it? You’re Dr Richard Burke, the character played by Tom Selleck as a recurring role.
Are you currently studying for a law conversion course after having changed your name – you always had an obscure feeling that ‘Tag’ had ruined your chances of projecting the gravitas to which you aspired – and revelling in your newfound abilities, which tend towards negotiation and summation? Did you bump into your old girlfriend, whatshername, Rachel, just the other day in Central Park, walking with her moody daughter by the pond, and did you consider going over to say hello but then notice that she looked harassed enough as it was, checking her outmoded telephone and snapping at her daughter that they could not go rowing because she wasn’t dressed appropriately, and did you then decide not to say anything but simply walk past, only for her to notice you, recognise you, and give you an odd look that afterwards you remembered as being almost pleading, and did you wonder briefly what had become of her and that goofy gang of people she hung out with way back when, before returning to the warmth of the library to get out some books on Torts? You’re Edward Jones.
Do you have a completely different set of friends now and thank your stars that you only have to see Rachel twice a year for things she invites you to, Ross never, Monica and Chandler never, and Joey never? You’re Phoebe.