“But I don’t want to be a pirate!”
February 21, 2011

An aargh-umentative comeback to use on someone who tries to stick you with doing something that’s just wrong. So you’re stickin’ it right back to them.

Kramer’s fashion-designer girlfriend asked Jerry to wear a shirt she’d designed on his next TV appearance. Nodding to what she said–not really knowing what she’d said, because she was a “low talker”–Jerry soon found himself in a billowy, puffy, 17th century-looking shirt. Seeing the ambivalence in Jerry’s face, Kramer tried to cheer him up: “You’re gonna be the first pirate!” Jerry’s timbers shivered in this child-like reply.

That’s just wrong can be applied to a boatload of things (e.g., “See what they did with the peas in that dish?”). The point here is things that most people would agree are just not right–like stealing a marble rye from an old lady.

And people who try to get you to do something like that–that’s not right either. You’re driving down the road, for example, someone cuts you off, and the passenger in your car can’t just curse that terror on the highways; they want you to walk that plank too: “Cut him off!” your matey squawks, like some Iago-ish parrot in your ear.

Swatting such people off your shoulder with Jerry’s reply–that’s gold.

From “The Puffy Shirt”
Episode 3, Season 5
Seinfeld Volume 4, Disc 1
Timecode for the scene: 10:20 (sunken treasure: check out “The Scofflaw,” Episode 13, Season 6, Volume 5, Disc 3, Timecode: 11:30 to see an eyepatch-wearing Kramer swipe Jerry’s line)

“Something’s missing alright.”
August 25, 2010

An under-the-breath observation to make when confronted with someone who doesn’t understand why the pieces of the puzzle before them don’t fit. But you understand.

When George’s parents joined him and his fiancee, Susan Ross, for dinner with Susan’s parents, the cornish game hen they were eating set Mr. Costanza to pondering aloud which bird—the chicken or the rooster?—procreates with the hen. “Something’s missing!” he effused, and Mrs. Ross, just as she sipped her wine, amused everyone with this reply.

A penchant for puzzles is a part of human nature, hence the great range of things that come in pieces for us to try to put together: the epic picture on soft cardboard, the plot points of a mystery movie, the instructions for a new household appliance. Emphasis on the word try. To try is human, and to solve—that’s not divine; that’s human too. Some people just require a little encouragement–and maybe a glass of wine for anyone standing around watching them–until they arrive at the solution.

Which brings us to Mrs. Ross’s brilliant reply, a commentary on Mr. Costanza’s shortcomings without bringing him up short—like the famed nursery rhyme about Humpty Dumpty. Ole Humpty might’ve been too complex for anyone to reassemble, but all the king’s horses and men might’ve also just been idiots.

From “The Rye”
Episode 11, Season 7
Seinfeld Volume 6, Disc 2
Timecode for the scene: 6:56

“Rusty!”
August 10, 2010

A ripcord-pull of a shout-out for when you head unexpectedly into the winds of change–someone else’s, that is, forcing you to change direction before others think the wind came from you.

Kramer got the opportunity to manage a hansom cab, making a lot of money giving people a “rustic” tour of New York City. His windfall soon fell victim to a certain wind coming from the direction of Rusty, Kramer’s equine buddy in this buggy business. Kramer the driver or Rusty the horse? The customers in the carriage couldn’t tell at first where the smell was coming from. Kramer’s announcement cleared the air…sort of.

Kramer had no idea what buckets of “Beef-A-Reeno” would do to the digestive tract of a horse–just like you have no idea what you’re getting into when you walk down that greeting card aisle, around restaurant tables, or into any other non-bathroom place where you a bathroom-specific odor lurks. You might stop to look for the source, but what you’re likely to find instead are other people looking at you like you’re a character straight out of Monty Python and the Holy Grail—and they don’t think you’re funny.

You’re not trying to be funny if you give a shout-out to Rusty when stumbling into such a situation. But if they do laugh—all the better. Because if they’re wondering who this “Rusty” is, that means they’re off of you—and you…you’re riding off into the sunset.

From “The Rye”
Episode 11, Season 7
Seinfeld Volume 6, Disc 2
Timecode for the scene: 17:40

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