There is a story behind this. In Brooklyn we visited lots of friends, including Ryan's friend Brett. I'd never met Brett but from all accounts he is a fun and lively guy. Apparently just three short weeks before we made it to New York, he was biking through the city when a police car ran a red light, causing a garbage truck to slam on its brakes in the middle of a busy intersection. You might guess where Brett was when that happened.
Needless to say, he split his kneecap, had emergency surgery and now has a full length leg cast. All things considering, he seemed to be doing well when we stopped by his apartment, which is (rather frustratingly) on the second floor. My drawing skills are amateur at best, and so when I showed him the portrait I said, "I didn't mean to make you look so sad. Say something happy and I'll write it down."
I realized as soon as I'd said it how annoying that request must seem -- hey, be chipper! -- and to his eternal credit, Brett's response was "I have nothing happy to say."
Happily, he seems to be recovering well.