“You’re Schmoopie!”
August 13, 2010

A chameleon-like comment (observation, put-down, etc., depending on the context) to use on people who’ve really opened their hearts for their loved ones, and–Moses smell the roses–it’s one of those heart-shaped box of chocolates.

Soon after Jerry and Shiela, his latest love interest, took up this sugary manner of addressing one another, they strolled unwittingly down their Candy Land lane until George and Elaine nearly vomited from all the gumdrop comments that kept falling on their heads. When Jerry clued them in that he and Shiela might be on the outs, George couldn’t help upchucking all over the schmoopie-ness: “People who do that should be arrested!”

People who do that (i.e., the die-hard romantics) demand that others tolerate their greeting card life–where words rhyme but have no reason–and schmoopie is their piece de resistance. People who can’t stand that (i.e., the saccharine-intolerant) can learn from George and Elaine’s derision: call out the schmoopie. You witness a couple locking lips like their ship is going down and you interrupt: “Hey–Schmoopies. Would you mind….”

Just be careful not to overextend yourself in calling out the schmoopie–and don’t focus so much on any one person or couple that your calling-out becomes a “death to schmoopie” campaign. You may end up dating or even marrying one of these people someday.

From “The Soup Nazi”
Episode 6, Season 7
Seinfeld Volume 6, Disc 1
Timecodes for the scenes: 00:45, 1:10, 15:15, ad nauseam

“You saying you want a piece of me?”
August 12, 2010

A chest-puffing challenge for predicaments that call for a little diplomacy, but you’re listening to that little voice inside of you this time—and it’s saying “It’s go time.”

Discussing with Frank Costanza, George’s father, what George did to get himself arrested, Elaine said something about George’s ability to hatch such a scheme. “What the hell does that mean?” Mr. Costanza swung, his demeanor cartoonish. Elaine counterpunched: “It means whatever the hell you want it to mean.” That fired up Frank, not to defend the honor of his son or the glory of the Costanza dynasty, but to throw this sucker punch.

They went to blows, yes, but one pictures two close kids in a backyard rumble—a picture completed by Elaine’s counter-sucker-punch: “I could drop you like a bag of dirt.” This is one person’s “No, I’m not” vying with the other’s “Yes, you are,” the silly fisticuffs of family and friends. Which means you probably shouldn’t use the Costanza challenge on co-workers, cashiers, and other strangers.

But if such people should rankle you–say, they’re flouting Order and you feel like making a scene–don’t forget the cartoonish demeanor. You’re the wit holding a crowd at, say, a bar–not the nitwit starting a fight outside it.

From “The Little Kicks”
Episode 4, Season 8
Seinfeld Volume 7, Disc 1
Timecode for the scene: 21:30

“You know we’re LIVING in a SOCIETY…”
August 11, 2010

A grandstanding observation to use on someone who flouts Order, and rather than confront the person, you prefer to make a scene (and you just might win an Oscar while you’re doing it).

George tried to use the pay phone at the Chinese restaurant where he, Jerry, and Elaine were waiting to be seated. The man already on the phone ignored George’s request to use it, and when he got off, a woman got on and she wouldn’t get off–much to George’s ire. Rather than use brinkmanship in chastising the woman, George chose showmanship and chastised the World.

Take the stage with this line when you take umbrage at someone’s unruly behavior. Take the stage. This is “go to the mattresses” (minus any Godfather-ish confrontation) or “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore” (minus the Network cameras)—a line that may not endear people to your character or even move them by your message, but it’ll be entertaining to them…and cathartic for you. Few things are more entertaining and cathartic than a scene from a good movie.

And that’s all you can hope for, really, in situations like this: the good that can come out of it for you, without bringing the bad out of somebody else. You don’t ask a friend to watch your back while you dress down some stranger. You ask a friend to kick back with you over dinner while you recount your scene then wash it down—that’s how people normally act when airing their grievances.

And a particular person’s rudeness followed by your rebuttal to no one in particular—that’s entertainment.

From “The Chinese Restaurant”
Episode 6, Season 2
Seinfeld Volume 1, Disc 3
Timecode for the scene: 8:03

“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

“Maybe I can get an extension cord and hang myself.”
August 9, 2010

A lighthearted observation to drop on those close to you, during those times when you’ve had enough of them standing so close to you.

Jerry’s weekend getaway with a woman he’d recently started dating turned quickly into a weekend he wanted to get away from. Jerry had thought it would take their relationship to “Phase 2,” never mind that George had warned him it was a “phaser” set to stun (“…you’re going to be with her 72 hours? That’s a dating decathlon“). Talking to his date at one point during the Lost Weekend, Jerry began talking to himself–thoughts we get to hear–when this bright idea arose.

Forget saying this one to yourself during, say, your Lost Week with the family for that annual summer vacation. Keep it to yourself, but on your tongue, ready to drop at the moment you feel like you’ve had enough. Subtlety born of peace at any cost–so common to many families–is not good for anybody at this point. Don’t even bother trying to be funny (e.g., “When you said ‘Beach-front sort of hamlet for the weekend RSVP,’ I didn’t know you meant ‘Near the ocean this year for all the Shakespearean drama, BYOB'”). Just let it all hang out there with this line.

No house is big enough for two (or more) families, they say–what you might call a precursor to this observation of Jerry’s. We don’t know who “they” are, but we’re betting they’re not hanging around with family that much anymore…and they’re probably happier for it.

From “The Stock Tip”
Episode 5, Season 1
Seinfeld Volume 1, Disc 1
Timecode for the scene: 17:42

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