“These pretzels are making me thirsty.”
October 20, 2010

An optimistic observation to make when faced with a problem so puzzling that, even after picking at it, you’re still not sure what to do—except maybe to get something to drink.

Kramer landed a small part in a Woody Allen movie, and this was his line. He walked around practicing it so peacock-proudly that Jerry, Elaine, and George each began playing the acting coach—acting out the line themselves (which only twisted Kramer up).

Look closely at many of the books, movies, and TV shows we enjoy, and you’ll find in many of those stories a pretzel to untwist—a conundrum or mystery to solve. This is why a question like What’s the problem? is so prevalent…and sounds so different, depending on where you’re directing it: that helpful, look-on-the-bright-side-of-life sound when you address someone else’s “pretzels”(“Sooo, what seems to be the problem?”); a harried, sometimes insane sound over the pretzels affecting you (“What is the problem?!”).

Kramer’s famous line should be just as prevalent a comment. It’s far more fun, not to mention useful, to boot. No matter whose problem it is, you’re laughing at it, with a come-one-come-all kind of cheer. Come join me, that is, for a cup of courage…and put all that is discouraging behind us.

From “The Alternate Side”*
Episode 10, Season 3
Seinfeld Volume 2, Disc 2
Timecodes for the scenes: 9:25 (Kramer), 9:52 (Elaine), 9:55 (Jerry), 10:03, 10:30 (George), 11:13, 11:19 (Kramer again), 18:03 (Jerry), 20:20 (Elaine), 21:12 (Kramer et al.)

 

*Updated on April 20, 2020, for the forthcoming book!

“Up here…I’m already gone.”
August 5, 2010

A delightful confession for those stressful times when you drift, and those closest to you ask, “Where are you, exactly?” And you reply: nowhere near them.

Bitten by the acting bug after a failed stint in a Woody Allen movie, Kramer decided to move to the L.A.nd of opportunity. When he confided in George about the plan, George doubted aloud: “You’re not really gonna go to California, are you?” Leaning in close, Kramer showed him the x that marked the spot.

An upcoming vacation, Friday night lights, or that car-battery-sized block of cheese you can’t wait to nosh–whatever x marks your hoped-for spot, you’ll leave your listener in uncharted territory about it if the right body language doesn’t accompany the line. Point one hand to one temple as you say the words Up here, then at the next words—shimmy that hand toward the horizon…like you’re already gone.

Now freeze that mental image and Photoshop yourself into a better background: sun-struck sand beneath your feet, for example, a Corona in the other hand, and nothing in the world to distract you. You could see a beached whale with something in its blowhole, and you couldn’t care less (let someone else call for a marine biologist) because you’re just…there.

With that postcard in mind plus Kramer’s line, to keep you from the edge, you’ll always be going somewhere. Just don’t forget Kramer’s moves, timed to the line: There’s a reason it begins with one hand to head as if gesticulating “I’ve had it up to here….”

From “The Keys”
Episode 22, Season 3
Seinfeld Volume 2, Disc 4
Timecode for the scene: 8:35

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