I Got the Jerry Seinfeld Blues

Oh, the reports I get.

Oh, the dark regrets I harbor when total strangers tell me they’ve just sighted Jerry Seinfeld in our Manhattan neighborhood.

Woody Allen says seeing celebrities makes us feel immortal. Okay, but seeing Jerry Seinfeld makes my upper west side neighbors feel really really lucky.

I raise my fist–why not me?

“You just missed Jerry,” said a man crossing Central Park West against the light. “I wonder why he’s drawn to Larry David types–if there’s a fight to pick that guy’ll pick it.”

I remind my cultural informant that, according to Jerry, the thing about relationships is they don’t work.

“But being a dad works for him. I see him and his kids at their lemonade stand in East Hampton on weekends.”

I raise my fist — why not me?

For me, Jerry Seinfeld is much more than a lucky charm—his presence in our midst has cosmic sweetness.

So I was tickled to learn at 4:43 yesterday that Jerry’d been cruising Lee’s Art store on 57th Street.

Did he look happy?

“You had to be here, ” said the clerk ringing up my Florentine wrapping paper.

Why oh why had I been wasting my life in the upstairs framing department?

I asked if Jerry was wearing blue jeans.

“Of course.”

Is this your first sighting?

“Naw, he’s here all the time.”

Well, I never see him here.

The clerk twists his mouth and adds a sideways movement of his head–the universal Manhattan/ethnic response to misfortune.

Then that night at 11 o’clock, it began to gnaw at me. I was bidding goodbye to yet another day without Seinfeld re-runs to ease the death of consciousness.

Of course some might say tv comedy’s a cop out–but better Seinfeld than ambien or howling at the moon or becoming a moonie.

Sometimes I still watch (I’m loyal) and yes I smile when Jerry blinks goodnaturedly and allows himself to be knocked back three steps after Elaine punches his chest with both fists and shouts “get out”.

The truth is that no matter how corrosive or shallow Jerry or Jerry’s friends act, his utterly benign emanations bless us all.

But alas, I don’t laugh anymore. I know the series too well.

Nonetheless I recently enjoyed the “master of your domain”episode and the one where Jerry and Elaine can’t quite have sex because they’re friends..

I’ve learned to enjoy even the iffy segments written and produced after Larry David quit.

And maybe one night I’ll get lucky. I’ll tune in on something I’ve never seen.

Unlikely.

Or maybe I’ll get luckier and see Jerry on the street. .

I won’t stare.

I may say thank you as he passes. I don’t want to force him to flash his embarrassed fake smile where he pulls his upper lip up revealing his teeth. He can’t help being kind.

But here’s another scenario: why can’t the Seinfeld team get together again? I remember Jerry graciously speaking on Larry David’s quirky, compelling HBO pilot.

Oy, Larry David, as my grandmother might say.

Jerry has said that his main job during the final years of production was keeping Larry David from quitting the show.

I’ve heard old friends of theirs say that Jerry Seinfeld was the only person on the comedy scene who got Larry David.

Jerry is maybe too decent–monsters somehow relax him.

Back to my tale of woe.

I even missed seeing Jerry on the sidewalk after his stand up act at the Beacon Theater on Broadway and 72nd. I’d been on the balcony laughing and scribbling notes for a New York Times article.

When I got to the stage door, I saw his car door slam.

The next day a fan emailed me her photograph of Seinfeld leaving the Beacon theater. He was loose-limbed, his collar unbuttoned, relief and joy smeared all over his face. The photograph is a treasure–but not as good as seeing him in the flesh.

It gets worse.

Today my waiter at the Brooklyn Diner said, “Jerry Seinfeld just left with Chris Rock. Very intense conversation.”

I wonder if Jerry’d been counseling Chris Rock about his recent movie, “I Think I Love My Wife”.

I watch Chris Rock’s tv stand ups like a hawk ever since Jerry said Chris Rock’s our greatest stand up comedian.

Jerry’s right!

Chris Rock paces back and forth, working himself into a lather, cursing and re-cursing, re-wording his litany, making it funnier and funnier.

Do you know the one where he keeps riffing on how you are either “single and lonely or married and bored?”

He spews high-energy poetry, laughing to himself like a bad child.

Chris Rock in movies is really different. He’s well… genteel, even upper middle class. No verbal lather. No self-satisfied chortle after a venomous, incredibly funny rant.

Returning to Jerry Seinfeld.

It gets worse.

There was a moment in the late 1970’s when I decided not to buy a Central Park West coop near the Museum of Natural History.

Indeed as years passed, I’ve congratulated myself on my luck. Instead my home is a rent-controlled apartment on Central Park South. My view is better–up the park, instead of across–but more important, my rent stays low, so I can take all sorts of professional risks.

The big spenders–high flyers living in that building on Central Park West–would be jacking up my monthly maintenance costs–to pay for hand-painted pissoirs, air-conditioned service elevators, gilded window treatments in the lobby–you name it.

But my smugness about my real estate decision evaporated about six years ago.

That was the day I learned Jerry Seinfeld had moved into that Central Park West building.

I could be nodding hello in the lobby.

Watching Jerry out of the corner of my eye at coop meetings.

Soon after Jerry moved in, I dreamed I was living across the hall (not straight across like Kramer, but more like down the hall) from Jerry.

Now that would be luck. Center of the universe luck

As E.B. White said (and I paraphrase) “If you come to New York, you have to believe you are lucky.”

To all the lucky people living in Jerry’s apartment building. Congratulations!.

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