Curb Your Enthusiasm
On Curb's Episode 6 "The Wire" we learn how an unsightly cable can test the boundaries of friendship and Larry's patience, what the cut-off time is for late-night phone calls and we get the first appearance of a Seinfeld alum! It's all tied up in a twisted ball of wire...
When the very first line of a Curb episode is "Was it burned to the ground?!" you know you're in for a doozy. Episode 6 "The Wire" opens in Jeff's office with Jeff on the phone and Larry standing in the background, jotting stuff down in a small notebook. Jeff hangs up and tells Larry he sponsored a kid from the inner city for summer camp and the kid set fire to the canteen and his cabin. Larry instantly says, "you try and do one nice thing and look what happens?" and then goes on to say he's "outta the 'nice business'" which explains how this series exists. For someone who's out of the 'nice business,' business is certainly good... for episodic television. Jeff's assistant pops in to say that Cheryl just called to remind Larry to be home early that night. Larry explains that there's a wire in the backyard that Cheryl's been complaining about as it ruins their backyard view. Larry says the wire can be buried but he needs to get six signatures from adjoining neighbors and there's one couple who is holding out as they want to meet Cheryl and him first.
At the house, Larry acts like a good trained husband and gets approval from Cheryl for what he's wearing. Ding-dong! At the door is Mr. and Mrs. Holdout otherwise known as Dean and Phyllis. After some awkward pleasantries including Phyllis saying, "I'm finally in the house that Jerry Seinfeld built!" they make their way out to the back yard where Larry and Cheryl show them a beautiful blue sky with a black dividing line of progress through the middle of it from 'the wire.' Dean asks what has to be done and the Davids explain that all they need to do is sign a paper and they'll take care of the rest. The phone rings and Larry and Cheryl let it go to the machine. Because the volume is up loud, they all get to hear Jeff leave an irate message saying that the camp is making him pay $17,000 in damages from the pyromaniac kid. He asks if Larry knows of a good lawyer (Larry lost his lawyer last episode) and Dean pipes up that HE'S a lawyer and Larry agrees to pass on his info to Jeff. Kismet. Phyllis shyly asks if the cast members from Seinfeld ever come over and hang out and Cheryl and Larry with their 'please sign our paper'-smiles plastered on their faces respond that they are friends and come over from time to time. Phyllis coaxes Dean a bit and he reveals that he has a huge crush on Elaine from Seinfeld-- Julia Louis-Dreyfus. "She's beautiful... and she's not just talented, she's sublime." Hellooooo stalker. Dean then goes on to say as subtly as a sledgehammer: if you let me meet Julia, I'll sign whatever papers you want.
Later that night, Larry is seething. "You'll have to kill me, before I call her to do that. I will MOVE before I have to make that phone call! MOVE!" Cheryl calms him down and makes it into bite sized pieces, easy for swallowing. One phone call. One small favor. Then the house will be perfect. Julia will probably find it funny. Larry grabs the phone to call Jeff and Cheryl stops him by saying it's 10:20pm. Larry insists the 'phone call cut-off time' is 10:30. Cheryl reminds him that they have kids and the cut-off is 10pm but there's no stopping Larry and he dials. Susie answers and we can tell by Larry's side of the conversation that she is (a) not happy about it and (b) Larry is really sorry. He hangs up and Cheryl ribs him "How'd that work out for ya?"
The next day at lunch, Jeff continues to explain to Larry how mad Susie was and how the cut-off time is 10pm. "10:01pm she'll be just as mad." he says matter-of-factly. But the meat of the lunch is this: the lawyer, Dean, who Larry hooked Jeff up with is incompetent. He's a freak. Jeff wants to fire him. And Jeff KNOWS that the only reason Larry recommended him was to get rid of his wire. Larry asks him to keep him on and insists he's a good lawyer. Jeff goes on to mention that the kid he's sponsoring (who burned down the canteen and cabin) is going to be staying with them. Larry asks jokingly if Jeff will let the kid burn down his house so he doesn't have to worry about this wire anymore...
Larry stands at the door of Dean and Phyllis's house with --trumpets please!-- Julia Louis-Dreyfus marking the first Seinfeld alum to make an appearance on Curb! Before they knock an uncomfortable Julia reminds Larry that she only has about 10 minutes before she needs to leave to pick up her kids from school. The door opens to reveal a raccoon-eyed Phyllis who is both elated to meet Julia and clearly upset over the death of her cat. Dean is not home, he's out with Jeff. Perfect. Phyllis decides to grab the camcorder to record this moment. Perfect. "Hiiiii Julia! Talk!" Phyllis commands as Larry and Julia cringe.
There's something about someone pointing a camcorder in your face and then yelling at you to perform like a trained monkey that really ruffles my feathers. And for celebrities, this action must be annoying times a kerbillion. I can only imagine how many times this has happened to Larry or Julia in their lives. They're at the grocery store... just trying to buy a bag of BBQ potato chips and poof there's a 'fan' in their faces telling them, "Do that funny thing that you do on the talky box!" Shudder.
Larry leaves the home video spectacle to call Jeff and see if Dean is on the way (he's not) and when he returns Phyllis is showing Julia her antique jewelry that she sells. Julia is wearing and admiring a bracelet just like the one he fought Richard Lewis for back in Episode 4 "The Bracelet." As Larry looks it over and talks about how this was the bracelet that got away, Julia has whipped out her checkbook and purchased it right out of his hand. You snooze you lose, Lar.
Back at the house that night, Cheryl is telling Larry that he needs to get Julia back over there which he is refusing to do. She's laying it on thick: "Don't you care about me?" but Larry gets distracted as he's missing his pad that he writes his ideas down in. He searches the couch cushions and realizes he probably left it at Julia's. He grabs the phone saying it's 9:50pm and he's "right in there" re: "cut off time." Cheryl thinks he's pushing it but he dials anyway and the first words out of his mouth are "Hi Julia... oh... oh I'm so sorry." Whoops. 'Guess he was pushing it. So if we've learned anything from this Curb episode it's that 9:30 is really the cut-off time for calling ESPECIALLY if there are kids in the house. Personally I think that it's a generational and age based system. For instance, in my early 20's I wouldn't think twice of calling a friend in my time zone at 11pm. Woo hoo. Party. But as we all got older, but before families started making families, that time would slip a bit. Nowadays I don't think the Millennial generation thinks twice about texting at all hours of the day or night. Is it that a text is not as intrusive as a call? Is it that phones don't just have a bell-clanging ring anymore so the intrusion is less, well, intrusive? Now the sound of a pop fly to center field or "All the Single Ladies" playing means you have a phone call. What do you guys think? What IS the 'cut-off time' for phone calls and what makes them the least intrusive?
Julia answers her door in her nightgown and tells Larry that she's looked and she doesn't have his idea pad. Larry wants to look himself insisting it'll just take a second. Julia's real-life husband, Brad Hall (a former Saturday Night Live alum) plays himself in this scene following Larry around with her reiterating what's found in the new area Larry is carelessly rummaging through. When Larry heads into their office they have had enough and their insistence that he go rises in tone. This wakes their son, Bobby who takes forever to get to sleep and before they're aware what happened, Larry is confronting the little boy asking if he's seen his notepad. They usher Larry out the door and no sooner does it slam shut when this exchange takes place:
Brad: "What was THAT?"
Julia: "Do you think I can call New York right now? I gotta call Seinfeld and tell him about this."
Brad: "What's the cut-off on New York?"
Julia: "Forget about it. These are extenuating circumstances."
The next day, Larry shows up at Jeff and Susie's house to find it ransacked. Apparently 'the kid' made off with all their electronics, her grandmother's brooch and more. Back at home, Cheryl tells Larry that she went by that jewelry store, found her bracelet and purchased it. He examines it, and tosses it on the dresser next to the door as Cheryl runs out. Julia comes over and Larry apologizes profusely for his behavior the night before. She accepts but says she's missing the bracelet she bought from Phyllis the previous day. Before he can get out an answer her eye catches on Cheryl's very same bracelet right by the door. Larry sees what's happening and tries to explain but Julia has already placed judgment on his stealing ways and tells him to keep it while leaving. As she opens the door, she bumps into Dean and Larry tries to make a happy meeting out of something that is quickly heading into the sewer. Julia whirls on Dean saying that if he makes appointments he should keep them and storms off.
Larry tries to keep a positive spin on it telling Dean "The important thing is YOU MET HER!" Dean seems to think it was an 'encounter' and not a good one at that. Larry gets into semantics explaining it was an unpleasant meeting, it wasn't a long meeting but it was A MEETING. Dean goes into lawyer-mode explaining they have a divergence of opinions and whereas Larry sees it as a meeting, he sees it as an unpleasant moment in his life. Larry responds with "Get out." and while pushing Dean out the door Dean manages to eek out that he found his notepad and hands it over. Larry is flummoxed. He takes a second to compose himself and say, "Thank you." And then Dean mentions the $500 reward that the notebook details in the front: "$500 Reward to Anyone who returns this to L. David." Larry nods. Of course. "Let me get you a check, Sherlock. Maybe you can get yourself a new sweater..." he seethes off-screen.
The last shot of the episode is of Cheryl and Larry sitting in their beautiful back yard reading the paper... a black twisted line (like the one that tugs at Larry's soul) stretched across the horizon.
Let me leave you with this, dear readers. As the episode started with Larry writing in his notebook and we know his notebook is for comedy ideas, is it some sort of Charlie Kaufman-esque thing going on where we, the audience, were witnessing Larry writing out what the episode would be at the very beginning of the episode? Maybe Curb Your Enthusiasm is just all taking place in a young autistic Larry David's head ala St. Elsewhere.
Do you hear that explosion? That's your mind being blown.
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