Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Episode 22 - The Library

The Plot:  If you liked “Cartwright”, you’ve got to love “Can’t-Stand-Ya”.  Another of the more memorable episodes, the Library opens with Jerry learning that he has a fine on an unreturned library book from 1971, Tropic of Cancer. Jerry is convinced that he did indeed return the book, as he remembers the girl he was with that day, Sherry Becker, and her orange dress which is "burned into his memory" and that they were chewing “Blackjack” gum. Jerry must go down to the library to sort it out, and he invites Kramer, who enthusiastically accepts.

When they get to the library, Jerry learns from the librarian, that his "case" has been turned over to the library investigations officer, Mr. Bookman. Eventually George arrives at the library, and he's very upset, claiming that the homeless man on the steps outside the library is none other than Mr. Heyman, a physical education teacher at Jerry and George's high school.  Jerry explains to Kramer how George was responsible for getting Heyman fired. As Jerry and George depart, Kramer stays behind and starts chatting with the librarian, Marion.

Meanwhile, Elaine is concerned when a co-worker forgets to ask her what she wants for lunch, and it sets her to worry that Mr. Lippman is planning to fire her.

The following day Jerry, George, and Elaine meet at Monk's, where George tells Elaine the story of why Heyman was really fired. Flashing back to the old high school locker room, Heyman and some of the high school boys give George a wedgie, all the while Heyman deliberately mispronouncing George Costanza's name as "Can't-Stand-Ya". As the flashback ends, George confesses that he complained about the incident, and Heyman was fired the next day. Kramer arrives at the diner to alert Jerry that the library cop, Mr. Bookman is waiting for him outside his apartment.

In one of the great show moments of all time, (Bookman steals the scene) Bookman and Jerry argue in his apartment about whether Jerry returned the book or not. As Bookman leaves Jerry's, Marion is waiting to enter Kramer's apartment, and quickly runs in when she sees Bookman. She worries that Bookman will return to the library and find that she is not there, but she finds it hard to leave her new-found love.

Jerry then proceeds to look up his high school girlfriend, Sherry Becker. When Jerry meets up with her, he finds that she has gained weight, and he is a little perplexed at her recollection of that day. She remembers that she wore a purple dress, not an orange one, that they were chewing Dentyne, not Blackjack gum, and that the book they read to each other was actually Tropic of Capricorn, not Tropic of Cancer. Jerry then remembers that the book he returned to the library was Tropic of Capricorn and he actually loaned Tropic of Cancer to George, and runs out of the diner.

Kramer and Marion are caught by Bookman as the two stroll through the library after hours.

Meanwhile, George arrives at Jerry's apartment, and confirms that the man outside of the library was indeed Mr. Heyman and proceeds to tell how he just received an "atomic" wedgie from him on the library steps. Jerry then confronts George about the book, which George then remembers losing after the original high school locker incident with Heyman.

Jerry reluctantly pays Mr. Bookman, who subjects Jerry to another lecture. The episode ends with Heyman, homeless in an alleyway, muttering "Can't-Stand-Ya, Can't-Stand-Ya", with the dilapidated long-lost copy of Tropic of Cancer lying next to him.

Fun Facts:

  • This was the first episode with the green mountain bike mounted on the wall of Jerry’s apartment.
  • Kramer is doing math for Jerry and figures out that $0.05/day for 20 years works out to $50,000.  In fact, it only amounted to $365.25.
  • This is the first episode with Mr. Lippman as Elaine’s boss at Pendant Publishing.  The actor playing Lippman (Harris Shore) appeared in this episode only and was replaced (by Richard Fancy) for all other Lippman episodes.

Favorite Quote:   Another one where I am not capable of picking just one:

Jerry:  It reminds me of like this pathetic friend that everbody had when they were a little kid who would let you borrow any of his stuff if you would just be his friend. That's what the library is.  A government funded, pathetic friend.

Kramer: Bookman. The library cop's name is Bookman. That's like an ice cream man being named Cone!

Kramer: Look at her. This is a lonely woman looking for companionship…Spinster…Maybe a virgin. ... Maybe she got hurt a long time ago. She was a schoolgirl. There was a boy.  It didn't work out. Now she needs a little tenderness. She needs a little understanding.  She needs a little Kramer.
Jerry: Eventually a little shot of penicillin

Elaine: Why do they call it a wedgie?
George: Because the underwear is pulled up from the back and ... it wedges in..
Jerry: They also have an atomic wedgie. Now the goal there is to actually get the waistband on top of the head. Very rare.
Elaine: Boys are sick.
Jerry: Well what do girls do ?
Elaine: We just tease someone until they develop an eating disorder.

Favorite Scene:   A contender for best scenes by a non-regular cast member, the scene where Bookman comes to Jerry’s apartment is a classic.  Bookman’s over the top inquiry and accusations was an instant classic.

Bookman: I saw you on T.V. once; I remembered your name--from my list. I looked it up. Sure enough, it checked out. You think because you're a celebrity that somehow the law doesn't apply to you, that you're above the law?
Jerry: Certainly not.
Bookman: Well, let me tell you something, funny boy. Y'know that little stamp, the one that says "New York Public Library"? Well that may not mean anything to you, but that means a lot to me. One whole hell of a lot.  Sure, go ahead, laugh if you want to. I've seen your type before: Flashy, making the scene, flaunting convention. Yeah, I know what you're thinking. What's this guy making such a big stink about old library books? Well, let me give you a hint, junior. Maybe we can live without libraries, people like you and me. Maybe. 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?  Doesn't HE deserve better? Look. If you think this is about overdue fines and missing books, you'd better think again. This is about that kid's right to read a book without getting his mind warped! Or. maybe that turns you on, Seinfeld; maybe that's how you get your kicks. You and your good-time buddies. Well I got a flash for ya, joy-boy: Party time is over. You got seven days, Seinfeld. That is one week!

The Lesson:  Oh where to start.  Once again, there is a plethora of lessons for startups.  However, my personal favorite from The Library is inspired by my life as a lawyer.  The speed at which early stage companies move, causes founders to cascade from one crisis to another and one opportunity to another, sometimes in very short time durations.  As a result, no matter how young or old you are,our memories can be faulty when we finally are called upon to deliver the goods.  Jerry has the image of Sherry Becker and returning the book “burned into his brain”, only to find out he was wrong on almost every detail.

In startups, 20 hours can sometimes feel like 20 years of activity.  It is impossible to rely on your memory to determine all of the things you discuss/analyze/decide on a daily basis.  Entrepreneurs should, at all times possible, take a moment to write down the results of every meeting/call/discussion.  Not a full analysis, but a bullet point list of the key takeaways so that tomorrow when you begin to act on your side of the equation, you have a clear picture of what your responsibilities are.  Relying on your memory for 20 hours, 20 days or 20 years is a recipe for disaster, and one that won’t be found in the cookbook section of the library.  Five minutes of recap is a small price to pay to keep a Bookman out of your life.

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