Tags Posts tagged with "Seinfeld"

Seinfeld

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

I wonder how the creators of the show “Seinfeld,” Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld, would portray today’s world? The answer resides in their approaches to other ideas and conflicts that became the focal point for shows that continue in reruns almost every day.

In one show, Elaine, played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, is dating furniture mover Carl (David James Elliott). When Elaine finds out that Carl is a pro- lifer, they decide to end their relationship.

In Washington, D.C., and indeed throughout the country, that seems tame compared with the passions people feel when they share their views about the president and about the upcoming election of 2020.

I could imagine an entire modern “Seinfeld” episode dedicated to the efforts people take to avoid discussing politics. Changing the subject, walking out of the room and pretending they can’t hear each other seems like a way these characters might keep the political genie locked in the bottle, allowing them to enjoy the company of anyone and everyone, even if those people disagree with their views on national politics.

We play out that scenario regularly wherever we go, whether we’re looking to date someone or just chat with someone in a line at the deli, on vacation or at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

We are so concerned that we might offend the other person or that he or she might offend us.

When did we become so incapable of speaking with each other? Are we determined to live in echo chambers, where we only listen and speak with the people whose ideas, thoughts and words match our own?

Come on, that’s not how democracy is supposed to work. We can and should be capable of hearing from other Americans whose ideas differ from our own. In addition to the land, the flag, the monuments, the Constitution, the history and so many other facets of American life that we share, we owe it to ourselves and to future generations to be able to listen to each other and to remain open to ideas and opportunities.

Are we afraid that someone who seems rational and reasonable might convince us to change our mind? Are our ideas so fragile and our confidence so weak that we can’t have an informed discussion about our views and our ideas?

Surely, we are better than some homogenized party line. We are a land of rugged individualists, who can and should find a way to advance our local, state and national best interests to give everyone an equal opportunity.

It’s not up to the leaders to tell us what to think, who to be and how to live. We have the chance to make those decisions for ourselves. At their best, those leaders are working to give us a shot at pursuing the American Dream which, last time I checked, doesn’t belong exclusively to one political party or another.

By not talking with each other, we increase the tension that separates the parties and the people who support them. Rather than waiting for a bipartisan detente in Washington, we can and should gather ideas about each other.

If they were still making the show today, the characters from “Seinfeld” might have helped us laugh about how entrenched we have become in dealing with our differences. We, however, aren’t living in a TV show and we owe it to ourselves to gather real information, to listen to other people and to bridge the divide that’s causing the fabric to fray of a country we all call home. 

We can learn and grow from making decisions for ourselves, instead of following the same script with every conversation.

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Have you seen it? In the pace at which we live our lives, it’s possible you missed it. I was at the drugstore recently and I saw it on the side of a box. It took a moment to process. How often does a product surprise you?

It had the potential to be a “you got your chocolate in my peanut butter” moment. When I was younger, my older brother, or No. 1 son as he’s been described on these pages for decades, used to mix all kinds of foods. Perhaps it was a prelude to him becoming a scientist. He’d combine foods that would defy even the current cooking shows. To his credit, he’d choke down even the ones that were spectacular failures because he didn’t want to waste food, and because who knew at what point a displeasing food might become an acquired taste? After all, how many people remember their first sip of beer? Did it tickle their taste buds or did they want to find water or a soda to wash it down?

So, back at the drugstore, I scratched my unshaven chin — I was buying razors to remedy that problem — when the image on the side of a box diverted my attention from important thoughts: How much longer would this take? Would I meet my deadlines? Was I supposed to wash some mission-critical clothing last night for some must-win game today?

As I looked at that image, I could imagine the moment Igor came up with the idea. There he was at a barbecue. With his acquired-taste beer a few inches from his left hip, he surveyed the food on his overloaded plate. He had a thick cheeseburger on a sesame seed bun, half sour pickles, an enormous mound of sauteed onions and mushrooms, coleslaw, and several Pringles sitting next to his burger. Igor works for Pringles and he won’t attend any picnic without bringing his favorite curved chip. The burger was on its way to his mouth when he realized he was missing something. He stood up to kiss his sister-in-law, maneuvered around his nephew who was bouncing a pink ball against the steps, and he and his burger arrived safely at the condiment table. On Igor’s way back to his beer, the pink ball rolled underfoot, causing him to turn his ankle and mix up the contents of the plate.

He hobbled to his spot and surveyed the damage to his food. His ankle could wait. Igor, like my brother, pressed on. He sighed at his precious Pringles. They were broken into tiny pieces, which was no fault of the distinctive packaging, and they looked like they’d been through a battle. They were covered in ketchup. Did he dare throw out the Pringles, he wondered, as he sipped his acquired-taste beer?

No, his loyalty to a product that paid for his mortgage and his three Jeeps ran too deep to toss even a single chip. Igor found the small part of a chip not smothered in ketchup and brought it to his mouth. Aware that every eye was on him, he nodded slowly, as if the taste was something extraordinary.

“Well,” his brother said, trying to be helpful, “why not, right? We put ketchup on French fries, which are also made from potatoes, right?”

Was it a weakness or a strength on Igor’s part that made him insist this was an inevitable combination that would become a must-have item for July Fourth barbecues? I suppose it’s up to us to decide whether ketchup-flavored potato chips are the next peanut butter cup.

If they are, maybe Pringles can edit a Seinfeld clip where George Costanza double-dips his chip into a bowl of ketchup?