Curb My Enthusiasm



Amy calls me Costanza. As in George Costanza. She thinks I have Costanza-esque qualities mostly because at the moment, I’m short, balding, unemployed, and living with my parents. And because I have a tendency to be a little on the neurotic side. I would like to think that out of all the Seinfeld characters, I’m more of a Jerry, but I can’t seem to get away from this reputation I’ve somehow unwillingly made for myself. I won’t deny that I get myself into some Costanza-esque situations, but being George isn’t all bad all the time. Much like him, I’ve managed to date quite a few women who were seemingly way out of my league and absolutely gorgeous. Looking back on my 20’s, sometimes I wonder how I even managed to pull some of that crap off. I guess I’m a lot more charming and attractive than I think I am.

I once said in a previous post that despite my Cherokee/Scottish background, deep down inside I’m basically an accident prone, neurotic little Jewish man. This comes out especially when I’ve injured myself or when I’m in some awkward social situation that I don’t know how to handle, which happens frequently. Seinfeld is my favorite show of all time. I’ve seen every episode a million times and can quote a few of them by heart. For those of you who don’t know, the character of George Costanza was based on the co-creator and writer of the show, Larry David. Some of the situations that George got himself into were actually things that happened to Larry in real life. Larry also had small cameos in a handful of episodes and his voice is used quite a bit throughout the show. He’s the voice of George Steinbrenner, the manager of the Yankees, and George’s boss. Of course, these days Larry David is known more for his own show, Curb Your Enthusiasm. I’ve only recently started to watch it, and I have to say, if you like Seinfeld, you need to be watching this show. I can see Amy’s Costanza argument, but I’d have to say that more and more I’m turning into Larry David these days. The man just manages to say the wrong thing at any given time. If any social situation has the slightest bit of awkward, uncomfortable, or offensive outcome, he’ll find a way to handle it in the worst way possible and piss off someone without meaning to. I’ve got a story about me doing just that, but first here’s an example of what I’m talking about.

Warning: The vid has quite a bit of foul language and generous use of the “n” word. If you’ve got a problem with that or you’re at work…well, don’t say I didn’t warn you. This is one of my favorite bits from one of my favorite episodes:

That kind of gives you an idea of the situations he finds himself in. Not all end up in screaming matches. Most end up in him worrying about how he handled it, and talking about it for days on end afterward. I had a similar thing happen recently. Last week, I drove down to Columbia to take my friend Donna out to dinner for her birthday. She’s leaving in a couple of weeks to move to Atlanta to go to school for a year to be an embalmer. Yep. You read that right. You might think it’s creepy and weird, but I think it’s cool as all hell. Anyway, last Monday might have been the last time I’ll get to see her before she leaves so I figured I’d take her out while I had the chance. She said that two of her friends would be joining us. I have never met them, but she said they were named Casey and some other girl’s name that I can’t remember right now. We agreed that we would all meet up separately at a restaurant around 8:00.

I called Donna when I got into town to let her know that I was going to get there a little earlier than everyone and that I’d just go straight to the restaurant and go ahead and reserve a table. I put it under her name and she texted her friends so that they would know what table to ask for when they got there because the two of them would be coming together. Donna came by herself. Keep in mind, I’d never met these two chicks before so I have no idea what they look like. Sure enough, exactly what I was afraid would happen, did. They arrived, but there was some mix-up at the hostess stand and she said she didn’t have any tables under that particular name, so they went ahead and got their own table. It turns out we were sitting just a few tables away from each other and didn’t even know it. Finally, when Donna showed up, it all got sorted out and I got introduced to Casey and his wife. That’s right, Casey’s a guy and he was there with his wife, whose name I can’t remember. That’s not the funny, weird part of the story though. Just something mildly amusing that happened early on. Whether or not me assuming Casey was female made a bad impression and had any bearing on the events that would transpire later, I have no idea, but I wouldn’t rule it out.

So, the dinner goes on and we all get to know each other. We have some good conversation and it turns out that Casey and I happen to know quite a few of the same people. He used to know my old roommate from like 10 years ago as well as a lot of his friends that used to come to parties at our apartment. Columbia’s the smallest big city ever. It seems like everybody knows everybody in that town.

So, the time comes for the check. I assume that we’ll have it split up so that I’ll take care of my meal (obviously), and we’ll have to work out who’s paying for Donna’s since it’s her birthday, or if Casey and I are just going to go in halvsies and split her part. Well, the waitress shows up and just puts it down right in front of Casey. He pulls his credit card out, puts it in the little book and says something like, “I got this.” At this point, I’m still assuming that we’re going to work out that I’ll give him my portion of it as well as whatever I owe him for Donna’s, so I just pick the whole book up and start looking at the check, figuring up in my head how much I owe him. Luckily, I just happened to have a bit of cash in my wallet so we could just settle up that way. I stare at the check for a while, with his card still in there, doing the math in my head. Keep in mind, before anyone arrived, I had a rum and coke, and also ordered my own appetizer, so I’m going down the whole bill trying to find all “my” stuff, as well as trying to figure out how much Donna’s entree and appetizer was. I say something like, “So, I can take care of Donna’s, or we can split it or something if you like. Let me just see how much mine was…” I’m still looking down at the thing while I’m saying this and it’s at this time that the table gets quiet and the wife starts with the throat clearing.

When I say with the throat clearing, I don’t mean that she had a little something stuck in there. It’s that “I’m trying to politely get your attention or drop a hint” throat clearing. It was directed toward Casey. He says something like, “No, really. I’ve got it. Don’t worry about it.” Well, I don’t want to make a big thing out of it, so I figure I’ll let him go ahead and pay for it, and when we go to leave, I’ll just slip him some cash or something, thank him and that’ll be the end of it. I just met this guy about 45 minutes ago and if you don’t know this about me already, I’m incredibly proud and independent. I don’t like people paying for me, especially ones I don’t even know. So, I sit the book back down and we chit-chat some more, waiting for the waitress to show up and take it away. The entire time, the wife is looking at the book and looking at Casey, giving him the throat clearing.

I’m playing it casual, but from the second that book left my hand, I shifted into full on neurotic little Jewish man mode. What’s with the hinty phlegm? What’s she trying to tell him with that? What’s she trying to tell me with that? What is this secret language right now? She’s clearly trying to convey something to someone. Is it that she’s insulted that I even picked it up and stared at it for so long, with his card in there? Is she trying to say, “Hey, we’re just being polite by offering. You really need to give my husband the money you owe him”? Is she saying to the husband, “Why are you paying for all of this? He can pay his own way! This shit’s expensive!” It was, by the way. It was a fairly nice restaurant and we’re talking one rum and coke, some tea, 3 appetizers, 4 entrees, and 4 desserts. I didn’t see the total on the check because his card happened to be sitting right on top of that part, but it had to easily be well into 3 digits.

So she keeps looking at the check and looking at him. Looking at the check and looking at me. All the while, “Ahem”-ing all over the place. What the hell do I do here!??? It’s seriously stressing me out! What are the rules here? I don’t know! I’m thinking, “Here! I’ve got money! Take it! Just take it! I can’t handle this! I’m no deadbeat!” And at the same time, I’m thinking if I give them the money, is that more insulting? Is it that I looked at the check after he put his card in there? Was that some kind of social faux pas on my part that I wasn’t aware of? I don’t know the protocol! Somebody get me out of here! She looks pissed!

So, the waitress comes, runs the card and everything and we’re getting ready to leave. As we’re making our way out the door, Donna realizes she left her box of leftovers sitting on the table and goes back inside to get it. I figure now’s the perfect time. We can settle up without Donna around. I don’t know why that’s important to me, but it’s her birthday and she’s definitely not paying for this. I just figure we’ll discretely settle up man-to-man or something. So, I pull out a stack of money I’d already counted out from my pocket and pretty much shove it at the wife. I try to politely say something like, “Here. Take it. Really, I can’t have you paying my way.” And with ice in her veins she glares at me and says, “No. It’s fine. Really.” So, Donna comes back out and we’re all saying our goodbyes in the parking lot. I go to shake Casey’s hand to say goodbye and thanks one last time and the wife kind of pulls him away toward the car. I yell something like, “Hey, thanks again! I really appreciate it!” Neither one of them turn around or say a word and start walking faster.

I have no idea how to handle situations like that. I stressed about it for the rest of the night. Donna and I went to a movie afterward and I just keep going on about it. I told her to tell him I really appreciated that and that I’d return the favor. Maybe if we’re all out in a group again, I’ll pick up his check or something. Did I piss the wife off? Was I rude for not paying? Was I rude for offering to pay? That was over a week ago and I’m still driving myself crazy over it. I just don’t want anyone to get the wrong impression, you know? Two people who I barely know (one of which whose name I can’t even remember) now think I’m some kind of deadbeat. Or rude and ungrateful. Or…something. I don’t know what the hell’s going on!

8 Responses to “Curb My Enthusiasm”

  1. I think it’s okay to be a little neurotic as long as you don’t become a hypochondriac. Although that did happen to George on one episode, didn’t it Watched some medical shows and then thought he was having a heart attack?

    Personally I think of myself as having an obsessive mind. I will go over past conversations in my mind 20 times and conversations I want to have but probably won’t about 5,000. When something really piques my interest I totally have to devour things about it. I probably spent over an hour of my work day today looking up stuff on gardening on either my work computer or my cell phone and sketching potential landscaping ideas on scrap paper. I can’t be that bad, though, because last week the lady across from me was looking at her “My Photos” on her computer for at least 5 hours straight.

    Well SOMEONE is a little full of themselves, now aren’t they?

    I never turn down free shit, though. I have very little shame when it comes to that. Maybe because I made so many guys take me to first dates at Red Lobster and ordered the fuck out of shrimp platters. I’m desensitized.

  2. I have no idea what that situation was about. I don’t really see you having done anything wrong. Some people are just overly sensitive I suppose.

    These pretzels are making me thirsty!

    Glad you see it my way. I was honestly pretty confused.

    Serenity now!

  3. I hate those kinds of situations in restaurants. If it isn’t decided at the start and told to the server at the start of the meal who will be paying…and the bill isn’t too large, I always go and pay the whole thing when I say I am going to the bathroom. If people toss me cash, I’ll accept it, but I hate the whole awkwardness of who will be paying.

    I need more friends like you.

  4. Oh man, you and I are so opposite in that regard. I LOVE awkward situations, and I never feel awkward, and I adore watching it all unfold. Watching somebody squirm over a check in a restaurant is my mental foreplay. Just take charge. Give the guy the cash and be firm. Nobody’s better than you, so nobody should make you feel uncomfortable. Proceed as if you are prepared to do the best thing in any situation, and you probably will.

    Well, you are a doktor, so I suppose your advice is sound.

  5. I’m sorry, but we have been on a Curb Your Enthusiasm marathon for months now getting them through Netflix one disc at a time, and you will always be more George than Larry to me. I truly understand the connection, but I can’t re-do what my mind has already decided.

    “It’s a mulatto!” Best show on tv.

    I’ve just seen a few episodes here and there but pretty soon I’d like to catch up with Netflix. I’ve yet to see a single episode I didn’t enjoy.

  6. What a weird reaction the wife had. I can’t think of anything you did wrong or a reason why she would be like that. I over analyze what people say/do in situations I’m in all the time. It’s annoying and wish I didn’t. Did Donna think it was an odd reaction too? Or did you even mention it to her?

    I didn’t mention the wife’s reactions (I don’t know if Donna noticed it herself or not), but I did go on and on that night about how bad I felt about not giving him the money. I’m going to see her again in the next couple of weeks before she moves and I think I’ll bring it up to her again. At the least, I’d like for her to relay the message to those two that I appreciated it and felt bad about not paying my share.

  7. Ok, I read this again and have a couple of thoughts:

    1) I called you Costanza before you were unemployed and living with your mother. The REAL reason you remind me of him is because of your random rants and how angry you get about certain things. It’s the rants mostly. 🙂

    Guilty as charged. I can’t dispute that one.

    2) I am weird and shy in some social situations but after two drinks I would probably have just asked what the deal was. I betcha anything she was mad that he paid for the whole thing and it had nothing to do with you. Either way, she sounds like a psycho and he was probably so embarrassed.

    I have a tendency sometimes to be overly blunt and blurt out things that other people would rather be more subtle about, but I only do it with my friends, not with people I barely know. I probably should have though.

    3) I’m assuming your friend knows these people much better than you do–did she have any idea what was going on or know any more about their weirdness?

    Yeah, she’s known them both for years. I don’t know if she knows about any weirdness, but she did keep reassuring me later that Casey is just like that and that he pays for others’ meals all the time. It still didn’t make me feel like any less of a freeloader though.

    I’m thinking way to much about all of this now.

    Any insights you can give me would be appreciated. I assure you, I’ve obsessed about it much more than you. At least I hope I have.

  8. Did you ever resolve this? I need to talk to this guy. Get me his number. I’ll straighten everything out for you. They call me Doktor Fix-It.

    I’m going to mention it again to Donna and see what she’s got to say. I’ll see what I can do about getting his number for you. I’m sure you can give him a serious what-for.

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