Excerpts from Jerry’s Seinfeld’s book “Seinlanguage”
Chapter One: Freeway of Love
Well that’s it, I give up. I really don’t know what the women are thinking. I’ve talked with them. I’ve studied them. I’ve asked them to study me. And I have to admit I am still at square one.
Not that I really object to square one. It is the only numbered square in the game. At least you know your position. Nobody ever screws up and goes, “Well, back to oval seven.”
I believe we’re all secretly happy we can’t figure our relationships out. It keeps our minds working. I think we have to be grateful for the one thing in our lives that keeps us from being totally focused on eating.
Dating is pressure and tension. What is a date really, but a job interview that lasts all night? The only difference between a date and a job interview is that in not many job interviews is there a chance you’ll wind up naked at the end of it.
“Well Bill, the boss thinks you’re the man for the position. Why don’t you strip down and meet some of the people you’ll be working with?”
Maybe we need some kind of pre-date ritual. Maybe first meet up in one of those rooms where you visit prisoners. You have that glass between you. You talk on the phones. See how that goes before you attempt an actual date.
This way the only sexual tension would be deciding if you should put your hand on the glass or not. And if you’re not comfortable at any point, you just signal to the guard and they take the other person away.
It’s hard to have fun when you’re feeling evaluated. We should say, “You seem nice. Why don’t we get together sometime for some serious scrutiny?” Because that’s the thing that happens. Whenever you think about this person in terms of maybe spending your future with them, you have to magnify every little thing about them.
The guy will be like, “I don’t think her eyebrows are even. I can’t believe it. Her eyebrows are uneven. Could I look at uneven eyebrows for the rest of my life?”
And of course, the woman’s thinking, “What is he looking at? Do I want someone looking at me like this for the rest of my life?”
Women, of course, have powers far beyond those of mortal men. A woman left a message on my phone machine the other day, with kind of a breathy voice. And no matter what a woman says, if it’s in that breathy voice, it sounds so appealing. A stewardess could lean over, whisper in my ear, “Would you put on your seatbelt? We’re about to crash into a mountain.” And I would go, “Really? So what are you doing later by the ruptured fuselage? What do you say we meet for some peanuts over by the black box? I’ll bring the cushions.”
Women need to like the job of the guy they’re dating. If they don’t like the job, they don’t like the guy. Men know this—which is why we make up the phony, bogus names for the jobs that we have. “Well right now, I’m the regional management supervisor. I’m in development, production, consulting …”
Men, on the other hand, if they are physically attracted to a woman, are not that concerned with her job. We’ll just go, “Really? Slaughterhouse? Is that where you work? That sounds interesting. So, what do you have, a big cleaver and you just lop their heads right off? That sounds great. Listen, why don’t you shower up and we’ll get some burgers and catch a movie.”
And why is it always dinner? You pick your teeth, I’ll wipe my chin, we’ll find out what we’re really about here. He’s thinking, “Boy, nice hair.” She’s thinking, “I can’t believe the size of the piece of bread he just put in his mouth.”
That always happens to me. Why is it when I reach for the bread I suddenly forget I’m on a date? I have this split-second mental lapse and think I’m alone in a hotel room in Milwaukee. And there’s nothing you can do once that bread is in there. You just get it down and hope she likes your car.
What would the world be like if people said whatever they were thinking, all the time, whenever it came to them? How long would a blind date last? About thirteen seconds, I think. “Oh sorry, your rear end is too big.” “That’s okay, your breath stinks anyway. See you later.” “No problem.” “Goodbye.” “Okay.” “Thank you very much.”
Dating in modern times is actually a big improvement on past civilizations. You know that in ancient tribal cultures, they would sacrifice a virgin. This is true. They thought that would accomplish something. They would find some girl that had never been out with anybody and they would throw her into a volcano. Now there’s a first date she’ll never forget.
She winds up in Heaven, talking with Chuck Woolery. “So, tell me, Lisa, how did the date end?” “Not well, Chuck. Not well.” “Well, if you’d like to be thrown into a volcano again, we’ll pay for it. . . .”
The worst dates are often the result of the fix-up. Why do we fix people up? Because you think they’ll have a good time? Who the hell are you? It’s a little power trip, isn’t it? You’re playing God. Of course God was the first person to fix people up. Fixed up Adam and Eve, you know. I’m sure he said to Adam, “No, she’s nice, she’s very free about her body, doesn’t really wear much. She was going out with a snake —I think that’s over though.”
To me, the fix-up just doesn’t work. You cannot fix people up. It doesn’t work because nobody wants to think that they need to be fixed up. You cannot get that out of your mind; it affects your attitude when you meet the person that you’re fixed up with. You go, “Well, I guess everybody thinks I should be with you.”
I was fixed up one time. Couldn’t deal with it. The whole time we were out, I could feel the puppet strings of the fixer-uppers on me. I couldn’t even operate my body. I go to put my arm around her . . . —SLAP— “Sorry, I can’t control my arms. This whole evening wasn’t my idea. I’m just a puppet.”
Has it ever occurred to you that the ventriloquist dummy always seems to have a very active, sexual, social life? He’s always talking about dates and women that he knows and bringing them back to the suitcase at night. There’s always a sawdust joke in there somewhere, kinky sexual references to being made out of wood or spinning his head around.
We’re somehow expected to accept this. I guess because the face is so animated, they think we’re not noticing, for example, that the feet are just kind of swinging there. Dummy feet never look really right, do they? Plastic shoes just kind of dangling there. Always kind of askew. You always just see a little ankle, those little thin white fabric ankles that they have. And the thought creeps in: “You know, I think they’re trying to put something over on me here.”
I’ve always wanted to invite a woman up to my apartment for a nightcap then just give her one of those little hats that flops over on the side. “That’s all. I just wanted to give you that. You can go now. If you want to go out next week, I’ll give you a short robe that matches.”
Now if you do spend the night at somebody else’s house . . . Which happens. It could happen. It’s happened to a lot of people. . . . You always think to yourself, “I can handle this. It’s no big deal.” But your hair the next morning is the true reflection of how you really feel inside. Your hair freaks out when it wakes up at somebody else’s house.
You go in the bathroom, it’s like, “This is not our sink, this is not our brush, this is not our mirror—Aaaah!” You have to keep it from panicking. “Would you just calm down! We’ll be home in a minute.”
What can you do at the end of a date when you know you don’t want to see this person ever again, for the rest of your life? What do you say? No matter what you say, it’s a lie. “I’ll see you around?” See you around? Where is that? “If you’re around, and I’m around, I’ll see you around that area. You’ll be around other people, though. You won’t be around me. But you will be around.” “
Take care now.” Did you ever say that to somebody? Take care now. Take care, now. Because I’m not going to be taking care of you. So you should take care of yourself now.” “Take care, take care.” What does this mean, “Take care?” “Take off.” Isn’t that what you really want to say? “Take off now. Get out of here.”
The problem with the sex-orientation process is that every person has their own sexual timetable of what should happen when. The other person of course knows nothing about it, and no one’s talking. We all have this demeanor like that poster of W. C. Fields in the poker game.
That’s why I think we need some sort of sexual rulebook where it’s written down and agreed upon, a sexual standard dating procedure.
If there are any problems, you simply refer to it and go, “Look honey, I’m very sorry, but we’ve been out three times and according to Article 7, Section 5, there’s got to be some physical contact, as you can see right there. Otherwise I will report you to the board and they can put out a warrant for an embrace.”
And a woman can go, “First of all, if you think meeting me for a half hour on my lunch break for a small yogurt, no topping, is going to hold up as a date in front of that board you can forget it. Not to mention calling me ‘honey’ before the end of the three-week endearment moratorium period. That’s a misdemeanor, you know.”
Seems to me the basic conflict between men and women, sexually, is that men are like firemen. To us, sex is an emergency, and no matter what we’re doing we can be ready in two minutes. Women, on the other hand, are like fire. They’re very exciting, but the conditions have to be exactly right for it to occur.
Men and women, all in all, behave just like our basic sexual elements. If you watch single men on a weekend night they really act very much like sperm—all disorganized, bumping into their friends, swimming in the wrong direction. “I was first.” “Let me through.” “You’re on my tail.” “That’s my spot.” We’re like the Three Billion Stooges.
But the egg is very cool: “Well, who’s it going to be? I can divide. I can wait a month. I’m not swimming anywhere.”
Which brings us to the condom. There’s nothing wrong with the condom itself. The problem with condoms is still buying them. I think we should have like a secret signal with the druggist. You just walk into the drugstore, you go up to the counter, he looks at you and if you nod slowly, he puts them in the bag for you. That’s it. You show up there, you put your little shaving cream, your little toothpaste on the counter. “How are you today?” (You nod.) “Not bad. Yourself?” (He puts them in.) “Oh, pretty good.” And you’ve got them.
Nakedness is a big thing with men. We’re living for the naked city. Whatever it is that you won’t show us, that’s what we’re obsessed with seeing. I mean, if women always wore hats in public all the time, you’d see men buying Playhead magazine. Reading “Skulls of the Big Ten.” This would be our only interest.
You start wondering about these cultures in National Geographic where everybody’s naked, you know? You see all these people and you wonder, “What are the men in these cultures trying to look at when women walk by?”
Could you have a strip club in a place like that? Woman goes on stage, takes off the necklace, takes out the nose ring—that’s it, show’s over. Men are in the audience going, “Wow, you see that little indentation there in the top of her lip? I told you, man. This place is hot!”
That’s why fashion works on men. Every year women cover up one thing, show us something else. Drives us wild. We never catch on that you’ve been alternately concealing and revealing the exact same things to us for centuries. We don’t know. Every time women put on a new outfit we’re mystified all over again. “I think the boobs are in there.” “Really? I think they’re over there.”
What about talking during sex? The question is: Does the talking really improve the sex, or is the sex act there now just to spice up the conversation? Of course, eventually, I’m sure people will get tired or too lazy even for phone sex. They’ll start having phone-machine sex. They’ll be really bored, “Yeah, I want you really bad. Just leave it on the tape.” Then I guess the phone company will come out with sex waiting. That’ll be the new thing. “Uh, yeah, hold on honey it’s the other line. . . . Oh, hiya baby. One second. . . . Uh, honey, I’ve gotta take this. Yeah, I’ve got sex waiting on the other line. I’ve got to take this call.”
See, each man and each woman actually does have an owner’s manual. Nothing’s written down anywhere, relationship are detailed someone, you’re essentially driving a strange car for the first time and none of the controls are labeled. So the wipers can come on at strange times, sometimes you stall.
On top of that we’ve all met people with bad steering, no brakes, needs a muffler, headlights a little dim, too much in the trunk, not enough under the hood, prone to backfiring, won’t turn over, and just plain out of gas.
Which is why when people get ready to get married they so often seem to choose basic transportation. It’s simple, it’s reliable, and it gets you there. That’s important on a long trip.
But the directions for operation of an and specific nonetheless. So when you individual in a start out with,what is the problem, why is commitment such a big problem for a man? I think that for some reason when a man is driving down that freeway of love, the woman he’s involved with is like an exit, but he doesn’t want to get off there. He wants to keep driving. And the woman is like, “Look, gas, food, lodging, that’s our exit, that’s everything we need to be happy . . . Get off here, now!” But the man is focusing on the sign underneath that says, “Next exit twenty-seven miles,” and he thinks, “I can make it.” Sometimes he can, sometimes he can’t. Sometimes the car ends up on the side of the road with the hood up and smoke pouring out of the engine. He’s sitting on the curb all alone, “I guess I didn’t realize how many miles I was racking up.” For me, the best part of a relationship is when you’re sick. And the best time to be sick is in a relationship. If I have to get married, you know all those vows, “For richer or for poorer, for better or for worse . . .” All I need is the sickness part. That to me is the most important one. “Do you take this man in sickness?” The rest of the time go out, have a ball, do whatever you want —but if I get the sniffles, you’d better be there. Don’t get me wrong, the wedding ceremony is a beautiful thing. The vows, the costumes. I think the idea behind the tuxedo is the woman’s point of view that “Men are all the same, we might as well dress them that way.” That’s why, to me, a wedding is like the joining together of a beautiful, glowing bride, and some guy. The tuxedo is a wedding safety device, created by women, because they know that men are undependable. So in case the groom chickens out, everybody just takes one step over, and she marries the next guy. That’s why the wedding vow isn’t, “Do you take Bill Simpson?” It’s, “Do you take this man?” I have a friend who’s about to get married. They’re having the bachelor party and the bridal shower the same day. So it’s conceivable that while the girl’s friends are giving her sexy lingerie, the guy could be at a nude bar watching a table dancer in the exact same outfit. I think that’ll be a very special moment. To me, the difference between being single and married is the form of government. When you’re single, you are the dictator of your own life. You have complete power. When I give the order to fall asleep on the sofa with the TV on in the middle of the day, no one can overrule me! When you’re married, you are part of a vast decisionmaking body. Before anything is accomplished, there’s got to be meetings, committees have to study the situation. And this is if the marriage works. I think this is the reason why divorce is so painful. You’ve been impeached and you weren’t even the President.
There’s no easy way to break off any relationship. It’s like the mozzarella cheese on a good slice of pizza. No matter how far you pull the slice away from your mouth it just gets thinner and longer but never snaps. Of course you could always just eat your pizza with a knife and fork, but I think this is clearly what’s known as “pushing the cheese analogy.”
One way to end the relationship is adultery. Adultery. Now that’s a heavy thing. You can’t just have an adultery, you must commit adultery. But you can’t commit adultery unless you have a commitment. So you have to make the commitment before you can even think about committing it. There’s no commit without the commit. Once you commit, then you can commit the adultery, then you can get caught, get divorced, lose your mind, and they have you committed.
But you know, some people actually cheat on the people that they’re cheating with, which is like holding up a bank and then turning to the robber next to you and going, “All right, give me everything you got, too.”
I think that even if you’ve had a relationship with someone—or let’s say, especially if you’ve had a relationship with someone—and you try to become friends afterward, it’s very difficult. Because you know each other so well. You know all each other’s tricks. It’s like two magicians trying to entertain each other. The one goes, “Look, a rabbit.” The other goes, “So? … I believe this is your card.” “Look, why don’t we just saw each other in half and call it a night? Okay?” I think when you first start dating, they ought to give you three “Get Out of Relationship Free” cards so you can just go up to the person and say, “Uh, here you go. I’m sorry. I’ll grab my tennis racket. Don’t get up. Best of luck. Sorry.” Which is fine—unless, of course, the person you’re in the relationship with happens to have an “Eight More Months of Guilt, Torture, and Pain” card. “Uh, hold it, I think I’ve got a little something for you. . . .”
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