what i'm watching: maybe coffee was coffee

Someone just emailed this to me.


George: (While preparing bicarb) She invites me up at twelve o clock at night, for coffee. And I don't go up. "No thank you, I don't want coffee, it keeps me up. Too late for me to drink coffee." I said this to her. People this stupid shouldn't be allowed to live. I can't imagine what she must think of me.

Jerry: She thinks you're a guy that doesn't like coffee.

George: She invited me up. Coffee's not coffee, coffee is sex.

Elaine: Maybe coffee was coffee.

George: Coffee's coffee in the morning, it's not coffee at twelve o clock at night.

Elaine: Well some people drink coffee that late.

George: Yeah, people who work at NORAD, who're on twenty-four hour missile watch. Everything was going along so great: she was laughing, I was funny. I kept saying to myself "Keep it up, don't blow it, you're doing great."

Elaine: It's all in your head. All she knows is she had a good time. I think you should call her.

George: I can't call her now, it's too soon. I'm planning a Wednesday call.

Elaine: Oh, why? I love it when guys call me the next day.

George: Of course you do, but you're imagining a guy you like, not a guy who goes (in stupid voice) "Oh no, I don't drink coffee late at night." If I call her now, she's gonna think I'm too needy. Women don't wanna see need. They want a take-charge guy - a colonel, a kaiser, a tsar.

Elaine: All she'll think is that you like her.

George: Yes, she wants me to like her, if she likes me, but she doesn't like me!

Elaine: I don't know what your parents did to you.


This is not as off-topic as you may think. No, really! Everything New York City- related is blogworthy to me, and you can't get more New York than the older episodes of "Seinfeld". Like many Woody Allen films, I've often wondered how Seinfeld played to the rest of the country or the world - there are so many inside jokes and NewYorkisms. But Seinfeld follows in the footsteps of (and borrows consciously from, I think) that ultimate New York City sitcom, Jackie Gleason's "The Honeymooners".

What I often notice about the old Seinfelds - and that is completely absent from the later episodes, when the show had achieved status as a National Icon - is the appearance of a genuine, easy friendship among the four characters. When one of them says something ridiculous, the others will look at each other and laugh and shrug good-naturedly.

For a great example, check out the scene in the coffee shop that begins the famed bet ("master of your domain") - the way they all look at each other as George tells them he was caught with the Glamour magazine. The Elaine (with big wild hair) who says, above, "I don't know what your parents did to you" is chuckling and smiling, laughing along with George - in contrast to the nasty shark Elaine (with straightened hair) she was later to become.

I have a theory about Elaine's hair as a barometer of the quality of any given Seinfeld episode, but I'll stop now. I have analyzed this quite a bit. Lest you think I read Saul Bellow and watch baseball to the exclusion of all else.


laura k said...

Now that's what I call a comment.

Best line: "You'll be out before we get the check."

In a later scene, Kramer & Jerry watches the woman across the street, Kramer runs out, then runs back in and slams his money on the counter: "I'm out!"

allan said...

"I don't understand you. I really don't. You have nothing better to do at three o'clock in the afternoon? I go out for a quart of milk, I come home, and find my son treating his body like it was an amusement park!"

laura k said...

"I can't take it anymore! She's driving me crazy! I can't sleep, I can't leave the house, and I'm here, I'm climbin' the walls. Meanwhile, I'm dating a virgin, I'm in this contest - something's gotta give!"

We should stop this now. You believe they pay us to sit here and do this? (While I follow two baseball games and read the paper...)

allan said...

Different episode, but it's library-related!

JERRY: Oh, I'm glad you're here, so we can get this all straightened out. Would you like a cup of tea?

BOOKMAN: You got any coffee?

JERRY: Coffee?

BOOKMAN: Yeah. Coffee.

JERRY: No, I don't drink coffee.

BOOKMAN: Yeah, you don't drink coffee? How about instant coffee?

JERRY: No, I don't have--

BOOKMAN: You don't have any instant coffee?

JERRY: Well, I don't normally--

BOOKMAN: Who doesn't have instant coffee?

JERRY: I don't.

BOOKMAN: You buy a jar of Folger's Crystals, you put it in the cupboard, you forget about it. Then later on when you need it, it's there. It lasts forever. It's freeze-dried. Freeze-dried Crystals.

JERRY: Really? I'll have to remember that.

BOOKMAN: You took this book out in 1971.

JERRY: Yes, and I returned it in 1971.

BOOKMAN: Yeah, '71. That was my first year on the job. Bad year for libraries. Bad year for America. Hippies burning library cards, Abby Hoffman telling everybody to steal books. I don't judge a man by the length of his hair or the kind of music he listens to. Rock was never my bag. But you put on a pair of shoes when you walk into the New York Public Library, fella.

JERRY: Look, Mr. Bookman. I--I returned that book. I remember it very specifically.

BOOKMAN: You're a comedian, you make people laugh.

JERRY: I try.

BOOKMAN: You think this is all a big joke, don't you?

JERRY: No, I don't.

BOOKMAN: I saw you on T.V. once; I remembered your name--from my list. I looked it up. Sure enough, it checked out. You think because you're a celebrity that somehow the law doesn't apply to you, that you're above the law?

JERRY: Certainly not.

BOOKMAN: Well, let me tell you something, funny boy. Y'know that little stamp, the one that says "New York Public Library"? Well that may not mean anything to you, but that means a lot to me. One whole hell of a lot. Sure, go ahead, laugh if you want to. I've seen your type before: Flashy, making the scene, flaunting convention. Yeah, I know what you're thinking. What's this guy making such a big stink about old library books? Well, let me give you a hint, junior. Maybe we can live without libraries, people like you and me. Maybe. Sure, we're too old to change the world, but what about that kid, sitting down, opening a book, right now, in a branch at the local library and finding drawings of pee-pees and wee-wees on the Cat in the Hat and the Five Chinese Brothers? Doesn't HE deserve better? Look. If you think this is about overdue fines and missing books, you'd better think again. This is about that kid's right to read a book without getting his mind warped! Or: maybe that turns you on, Seinfeld; maybe that's how y'get your kicks. You and your good-time buddies. Well I got a flash for ya, joy-boy: Party time is over. Y'got seven days, Seinfeld. That is one week!

Anonymous said...

I have a special place in my librarian heart for that episode ... surprise, surprise. You know, I've been thinking about using my spare time to train as a library cop. Apparantly the hired goon business is booming these days, and someone's got to track down those overdue fines! The way library budgets are being slashed in the public sector, that 40 cents may be more important than we realize. Delinquent bastards! They shall all pay!!! [insert evil maniacal laughter here]

On another note, the Canada's own sorta-Seinfeld starts season 5 tonight at 9 (EST). Of course I'm referring to Trailer Park Boys. Look for it on the sat. if you can - some Canadiana that is well worth checking out!

laura k said...

Trailer Park Boys is Seinfeldesque?

Anonymous said...

In its own way, yes.

Guys like me who grew up in the buttfuck of nowhere can totally relate to every single aspect of the show (and every character).

So in that way, absolutely.

laura k said...

That's cool.

The buttfuck of nowhere, eh? That sounds worse than where Redsock grew up - which is pretty trailer park-y.

I've never seen TPB. I don't know if it's even on here, so that might be a treat waiting for me after I cross the border.

My idea of Canadian humor is Kids In The Hall. I love them.

Anonymous said...

Grew up in mid-south Ontario rural farm area (miles from anything but blink-and-miss-em small towns), spent several winters in the north (towards James Bay), also spent much time (most summers) in Nova Scotia (where coincidentally TPB is filmed). Basically the only thing to do was break every rule you could. Boy did we ever.

Yet somehow I got out ... sorta.


Heard somewhere they are trying to introduce TPB to the US. There is apparantly a TPB movie in the works to do so ... watch for it!

allan said...

Where I grew up was *not* trailer parkish. Not at all. Regular suburbs. With running water and L-eck-tricity and everything.

More from The Library:

"What's amazing to me about the library is it's a place where you go in you can take out any book you whant they just give it to you and say bring it back when you're done. It reminds me of like this pathetic friend that everbody had when they were a little kid who would let you borrow any of his stuff if you would just be his friend. That's what the library is. A government funded pathetic friend. And that's why everybody kinds of bullies the library. I'll bring it back on time ... I'll bring it back late. ... Oh, what are you going to do? Charge me a nickel?

laura k said...

Uh-oh... G might object to the library being called a pathetic friend. You might be in trouble...

Anonymous said...

No, Redsock's right (as was Seinfeld in that quote). The library really is that pathetic little friend. One of the many library stigma I'd like to see changed.

I'm one of a growing movement in the library realm to beef up the payment due pressure. I believe wholeheartedly in the value of the hands-on approach of hired goons. We'll get library repo-men to collect the overdue books, and if the person doesn't want to pay that nickel, our hired goons will make sure they do.

Think of it as a Library Mafia. Guys like DeNiro in Goodfellas sent out to collect payments due. Now that would be cool - and may go a long way to erasing the stigma of the pathetic friend (sorta like the geek kid in school who grows up to be a bodybuilder or movie star).

laura k said...

"Bookman: The Movie."
Pay Now... or Pay Later.