Seinfeld: The Most Important Lessons from a Show About Nothing

5 – Return your library books

Jerry Seinfeld, the actor, comedian and creator of the show which bears his name, grew up knowing “reading is fundamental.” His show broke rules of television, and his character ran afoul of a library cop investigating an overdue copy of Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer. It was last spotted when Jerry took it out in 1971. But for a guy who started a show with a no-learning credo, it’s not a big thing. 

“Maybe we can live without libraries, people like you and me,” library investigations officer Lt. Bookman (Philip Baker Hall) warns the successful comedian. “Sure, we’re too old to change the world, but what about that kid, sitting down, opening a book, right now, in a branch at the local library and finding drawings of pee-pees and wee-wees on the Cat in the Hat and the Five Chinese Brothers?” That child would probably end up like Mr. Heyman, the teacher who got fired for giving Costanza a wedgie.

4 – Wait after swimming

Do women know about shrinkage? Anyone who didn’t, learned about it from George in “The Hamptons,” from season 5. The human body was designed to operate best in its natural temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. When a man goes swimming in cold water, the blood rushes to warm the vital parts, like the brain and heart, leaving appendages to shrink “like a frightened turtle.” No one knows why it happens. It just does. George is right to think Jerry’s girlfriend got short-changed when she accidentally walks in on him changing out of his swimsuit. Elaine doesn’t even know how men walk around with those things.

3 – Don’t trust mailmen

There is a reason United States postal workers “go crazy and come back with a gun and shoot everybody.” Speaking as one of the brethren, Newman (Wayne Knight) says it’s “because the mail never stops. It just keeps coming and coming and coming, there’s never a let-up. It’s relentless. Every day it piles up more and more and more, and you gotta get it out but the more you get it out the more it keeps coming in. And then the bar code reader breaks and it’s Publisher’s Clearing House day.” 

Jerry Seinfeld’s nemesis calls in sick when the weatherman predicts showers, even though it is first on the list of the “neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow” mailman oath. Oh, and forget everything you think you know about zip codes, “they’re meaningless.”  

2 – Do the opposite

“Hi, my name is George. I’m unemployed, and I live with my parents.” With a pickup line like that, what could possibly go wrong? It lowers the bar so much, it is irresistible, and there is nowhere to go but up. When Costanza tries out his bad luck opening he’s a flailing real estate agent with little to no prospects. 


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