Elaine and Jerry accompanied George to a dinner party where they got stuck and she got bored. Crowd-watching from a settee, Elaine beheld a woman carrying on mawkishly about her fiancée, Where is my fiancée? “I have lost my fiancée,” she exclaimed to Elaine, “the poor baby!” As if reading a placard, Elaine delivered this “baby”-on-bored reply.
Think “the dog ate my homework.” But where “dog” is a story made up to cover up one’s own laziness, “dingo”—a type of Australian dog—is a true story, brought up here to point out another’s craziness over their “baby,” whatever it is that, when they lose it, makes them lose it (“Maybe the dingo ate your strongbox key”). Elaine’s line stems from the real-life account of an infant death in Australia at the hands—er, jaws—of…well, you get the picture. The Meryl Streep motion picture A Cry in the Dark immortalized the story.
The prospect that the “baby” of the person you’re ding-o-ing was eaten by some wild animal is, of course, so over-the-top as to be as down-under mythological as the subject of that Streep flick. That’s the point. Some mythology is obviously at work here in that person’s mind, to make them act all “Baby can’t live without me.” They must be there for baby. “Nobody puts baby in a corner.”
As with quoting a movie (even a famous one), the risk of dumb looks or backlash is high with this line, but a high five is also not altogether out of the picture. You might kill it, as they say in comedic circles about a bit well done. Or you might be killed—the bit flops.
Either way, “dingo” is worth it*, to let them know you’re killing me.
From “The Stranded”
Season 2, Episode 9
Seinfeld Volume 1, Disc 3
Time code for the scene: 07:08 (*Watch for Elaine’s smile at the scene’s end.)
Dedicated to Anthony Narkawicz