I was in grade nine when I discovered Jerry Seinfeld, and I'll never forget it. I was flicking aimlessly between the four channels we had back then, when I came across an incapacitated looking woman bellowing "Stella!" at the top of her lungs while hyped up on meds. To this day, that will remain the funniest thing I've ever seen, and even though I've watched that episode a million times by now, I still end up in fits of uncontrollable giggling when it pops up on my television.
Seinfeld was not a 'thing' in my peer group. We were on that border between being generation X or Y and most of them tended to identify with the Y side of things, so it was all about South Park, The Simpsons, Friends, Kurt Cobain, Home and Away and Silverchair. However, my mother was a few years older than most of my friends' parents were and she wasn't a fan of modern sitcoms, so she raised an old soul in me and one that was decidely uncool and proud of it. I grew up on Gene Kelly and Elvis musicals, Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em, and listening to music on a record player so I didn't really get into mainstream T.V at all until we got cable in the tenth grade.
But stumbling across Seinfeld was a bit of a fluke, and it changed me irrevocably. I'd always been bullied and so Jerry's sense of humour struck a chord wih me, not only because he was incredibly quick-witted, but because he knew how to put someone in their place without being out and out nasty. He reminded me of other TV characters I'd felt an affinity with before, like Niles from the Nanny and Raphael from TMNT, and that was when I realised a truth about myself- I was quite sarcastic. Odd that a 13 year old girl would feel such a connection with a bunch of Middle Ages adults living in New York City, but I did and it had never abated. In fact as the years go on not only does Seinfeld seem to stay relevant, but you can actually see how the world has learned how to 'adult' from him.
It was hard to watch TV shows from start to finish back then. We had exactly 4 network stations and they tended to play seasons of imported shows willy nilly, so it took me years to watch the majoroty of the Seinfeld episodes, but I recorded every single one and watched them until I knew them off by heart. I was an obsessed fan off the bat, and I'll never forget how much my husband loathed Seinfeld back then because he was jealous of my fixation with it. He was 13 and I was 14 and we were madly in love and spoke on the phone for hours a night, but if it was a weeknight I'd only speak to him until precisely 6:59p.m because between 7:00 and 7:30 I was incommunicado. He tried prolonging our farewells and even prank-called me a few times while in a jeaous snit, but I never apologised and he never learned to deal with it and so I guess it wasn't a surprise that we didn't work out the first time around.
We reunited 20 years later, and I'll never forget the way his eyes swept over my DVD shelves and slitted when he saw my Seinfeld boxset displayed proudly, but luckily by then I didn't have to stop the planet to watch my favourite show anymore and though he's never become an actual fan, he does enjoy watching them when I go through one of my Seinfeld binge phases.
I'll always remember memorizing the episodes until I could do them off by heart. Then, when I found the book Sein Language, I'd spend hours trying to 'do' his routines. I remember watching the finale in 1998 and bawling my eyes out during the chronicles and pissing myself laughing at the end when they got locked up, especially when Jerry started to do the same button bit from episode 1 which I thought was just that perfect touch. I remember the fact that Seinfeld was the very first thing I ever did a search for on the internet- and that I spend about two hours trying to print off 4 pictures just in case the internet vanished and I'd never have the access to information about him again. I remember covering my books with those pictures and trying to justify my addiction to him to other kids my age, and I remember how every time I met someone else in my generation that was in love with him too, it was like meeting a kindred spirit.
I remember when Jerry wore a blue and white striped shirt in the episode about his pilot, and how when I found a shirt just like it in a thrift shore, I wore it religiously because it was my Jerry shirt. I remember it getting so frayed that it became my night shirt, but I've bought several more just like it over the years and where them with a secret smile on my face because no one knows. Just last week I was writing my third play and I finally decided to add in a stand up routine for one of the characters. I was so stressed about writing it that It took me three weeks ( as opposed to the entire script which took about 3 hours) but then I put on my Jerry shirt and everything just sort of fell into place 🙂 when the director messaged me after to say it was 'Hilarious' I actually cried. I never would have done that, if not for Seinfeld.
I remember how excited I was when my family got addicted to Jessica Seinfeld cooking recipes, and I remember how I sobbed when my things were ruined by the 2008 floods, but how relieved I was to find my copy of Sein Language sitting high and dry in a plastic box- with my diaries and a 1st edition of Uncle Toms Cabin. I remember dragging my husband around New York City looking for Seinfeld landmarks- how I made him eat pretzels and Papaya King hot dogs and how we searched for the abandoned Soup Nazi kitchen and the facade of the diner until we were lost in a bad neighborhood. I remember thinking about what a good sport he'd become 🙂
I remember laughing .
But what I remember most of all, was when I found out Seinfeld was coming to Australia- how I burst into tears because I knew that because our business had just collapsed, I wouldn't be able to go even if it was a year from then. I sobbed like a baby until my mum called me and told me that her and my sister would get me there for my birthday gift no matter what it took, and how thrilled and relieved I was just to be standing in the same general area that he would be standing in, 21 years after discovering him.
Now I'm getting ready to board a plane to see Jerry Seinfeld live in Brisbane, and I'm all teary again, not just because of that but because my beautiful and tolerant husband gave me his last $50, told me to get a souvenir and told me to have 'The Time Of My Life' I don't think he knows what he said or why that matters, but to my mother, sister and very supportive hubby I leave you with this:
'Think where man's glory begins and ends, and say my glory was, I had such a friend.'
Goodnight Jagdesh 😉 See you tomorrow!