We all have that character from Seinfeld that we compare ourselves to, not in the annoying Sex and the City way, but in a way that we can all relate to Jerry, George, Kramer, Elaine, Newman and all the other bit characters on a very un-cool level. They all had their flaws, but beautiful flaws they were. No one ever really wanted to be a “George” though, and sadly, as a 17-20-year-old, I was George. Full on. It was like I couldn’t not be him.
It’s not that I wanted to be him, but his personality was so much like mine it was something I couldn’t fight. I loved how he never really knew what he wanted to do, how he could talk (mostly) his way in and out of everything. He was always scamming, and those scams were the silliest and scammiest. I didn’t go out of my way to do things I thought George would do; it just so happened I did things that George would have done, but in a bad and ridiculous, sometimes humorous (more pathetic) way.
When I was 18, the summer before college, my parents were all over me about getting a job. I was sick of waiting tables and just didn’t want to work. It was going to be the “Summer of David,” which of course it never came close to being.
For weeks I told my parents I was working the night shift at Wal-Mart. I never even applied for a job there; I just blatantly lied and said that’s where I was all night. I would stroll in at 7am and say things like “Tough night stocking stuff at Wal-Mart, but boy is that Martha at checkout a total doll.” I would create stories that were just made up, to make it seem as if I was at work. My savvy sister caught on real quick. One evening she tells me her and my parents are going to Wal-Mart at midnight to see me and say hi. This is where I went full on George mode.
At 11:45 that night I showed up at Wal-Mart, not knowing anyone, having never worked there, and walked straight back to the break room. I told someone I’d forgotten my vest and some guy just threw me a blue vest and told me not to forget it again or I would get written up. Let me say this again: I DIDN’T WORK AT WAL-MART. I never had. But blue vest I got, and blue vest I wore. I started walking around the store, not really knowing what I was supposed to do, but I did know quite a bit about cereal so I went to that isle to check things out. Picking up a box of Kix, examining a new Honey Nut Crunch flavor. I was feeling pretty good.
This is when my parents showed up. I walked around for a bit with them but they knew something was up. So my sister, my damned out to get me sister CALLED WALMART SO THEY WOULD HAVE TO PAGE ME AND I WOUD HAVE TO GO ANSWER A CALL ON ONE OF THOSE POST PHONES. Next thing I know, over the loud speaker I hear: “David Dean, line 2, David Dean, line 2.” Again: I DIDN’T WORK AT WALMART. But at this point what could I do? I went over and answered, “Thanks for calling the line 2 of Wal-Mart this is David but I don’t actually work here so would you like me to transfer you to another line? Lots of lines here, just bad luck you got line 2….and asked for me directly..” and then of course all I hear is my sister on the other end saying in the most demonic of voices “YOU. ARE. SO. BUSTED.”
So my parents escorted me out of Wal-Mart, I gave my vest to the greeter, to which he replied, “Do you work here young man?”
Later in college I was at a bagel shop where the tables are uncomfortably too close and a lady sat down with her food pretty much right next to me. She got up to go fill her drink but left her cell phone on the table, which started ringing. In my mind I thought the polite thing to do was answer it and let the caller know to hold on for a moment as the owner of the phone was currently adding some sweetener to her tea. I mean what was I supposed to do? (Not answer a strangers phone, I guess.) BAD. IDEA. He started screaming and then the lady came over and started screaming and I’m trying to explain into the phone and to the lady I was just trying to be polite and that she shouldn’t have had her ringer on so loud in the first place and it was just common courtesy and then I had some tea. Some sweetened tea. All over my face and shirt, courtesy of the lady but not so common. I looked around for sympathy but found none, and walked out telling everyone in the bagel shop that ringers SHOULDN’T BE THAT LOUD and I’M THE ONLY ONE SHOWING COMMON COURTESTY. But, I found out later from…everyone, that no, that’s not common, not common at all.
I’ll end it with what might be the worst. My best friend at the time was always dating the cutest ladies. So I would then date anyone I could just so we could be dating at the same time. Begging him not to break up with his current girl because then I would have to break up with mine. This went on for a few years until people just started assuming my buddy and I were gay, as we did pretty much everything together. I would get him into situations he hated, I would have him act as a high powered businessman so I could put him as a reference, and even talked him into going to the big cities that were close by dressed in suits and telling ladies we were really successful developers. Developers of what? Who knows. 21-year-olds wearing suits that didn’t fit well in bars drinking martinis acting like 40-year-old pretentious ass holes? (We thought pretentious meant baggy suits and martinis.) Is that what I thought ladies liked? Well they didn’t. We even got a “working girl” to come up to our hotel room one night, my buddy saying he couldn’t do it and me explaining how it was a bonding situation, a story for life! Luckily, I mean I guess I’ll just refer to my friend as Jerry at this point, sent the girl away, and we were quickly met at our hotel door by her oversized husband demanding money. Of course “Jerry” spotted me out as always and we lived to see another day. But in my defense it was a great story, it just took a few years to convince him of that.
I could go on and on about the “George” situations that I continually put myself into, but now as a 31-year-old, one George and Jerry conversation will always have a soft spot in my heart, because even though the conniving, relationship seeking, Jerry crushing mess that was George, we had a lot in common. The below words will always ring true, no matter my age, no matter if I’m wearing a fake blue vest or an oversized suit, this purely honest and disillusioned George is what makes George the best, even when he’s the worst.
Jerry: So what are you gonna do?
George: What about like an announcer? Like a color man? You know how I always make those interesting comments during the game?
Jerry: Yeah. Yeah. You make good comments.
George: So? What about that?
Jerry: Well, they tend to give those jobs to ex-ballplayers and, ya know, people in broadcasting.
George: That’s really not fair.
SO Note: Follow SO @Serial_Optimist.