Here’s a good way to tell somebody’s lying to you — they tell you, “My life is a sitcom.”
No, it isn’t. Mine isn’t, either. Sitcoms are full of witty commentary and situations that end with morals and all loose ends tied up. Life has a smattering of funny moments, but it’s mostly work, eating and sleeping with dialogue that uses few syllables. (“What did you do last night?” “Watched football, fell asleep.” “Cool.”)
Now, if somebody tells me, “This thing last night felt like a sitcom,” we’re in business.
I was just hanging out at a restaurant last week and overheard somebody talking about one of my favorite standup comedians. Nobody else at his table had heard of the guy.
I walked over and said, “Sorry to just walk in, but you mentioned one of my favorite standups,” and proceeded to recite a routine. We talked for a good 10 minutes about that standup, and others. Throughout the conversation, I’m thinking, “This guy’s all right.”
He mentioned some albums he needed to get, and I mentioned that I had those albums. I gave him my card and an open invite to borrow said albums.
It’s been a few days, and no call or text. I’m sure I’ll run into this guy again in such a small place, but I won’t feel spurned if we don’t talk again. But I love any situation that lets me pretend I’m in an episode of “Seinfeld,” so cue the fake anxiety.
“The Boyfriend” first aired Feb. 18, 1992. The two-part episode showed Jerry having a chance meeting with former Mets star Keith Hernandez. To Jerry’s surprise, Hernandez is a fan of his comedy; they hit it off and exchange phone numbers.
Three days later, Jerry wonders why Keith hasn’t called.
“I don’t want to be overanxious,” Jerry said. “If he wants to see me, he has my number. He should call.”
Elaine remarks on how nervous Jerry looks.
“I can’t stand these guys,” Jerry replies. “You give your number to them and then they don’t call. Why do they do that?“
I desperately wanted to replay the scene in the office Monday, but I don’t think my coworkers would have gone along with it. The humor, of course, is that Jerry’s too old to act like a spurned girl who wasn’t called by a guy, because his social circle should already be set.
In his standup routine later in the episode, Seinfeld nails it:
“When you’re in your 30s, it’s very hard to make a new friend. Whatever the group is that you’ve got now, that’s who you’re going with. You’re not interviewing, you’re not looking at any new people, you’re not interested in seeing any applications. They don’t know the places. They don’t know the food. They don’t know the activities.
“Of course, when you’re a kid, you can be friends with anybody. Remember when you were a little kid? What were the qualifications? If someone’s in front of my house NOW, That’s my friend, they’re my friend. That’s it. Are you a grown up? No? Great, come on in. Jump up and down on my bed. And if you have anything in common at all … you like cherry soda? I like cherry soda; we’ll be best friends.”
For the record, Jerry, that last thing can still work later on in your life. I’m friends with a coworker in another department, and I’d like to think it had something to do with our chance meeting out of work, when we noticed we were drinking the same beverage (it was not a Shirley Temple).
And maybe Jerry’s wrong on the first part, because I’m in small-town New Mexico and not New York City. I bet this guy knows the places, knows the food, knows the activities.
And he knows this little incident isn’t a sitcom. It’s just a funny thing we’ll converse about, in as few syllables as possible.
Unless he doesn’t call. Why do they do that?