Oh, the reports I get.
Oh, the dark regrets I harbor when total strangers tell me they’ve just sighted Jerry Seinfeld in my neighborhood. Woody Allen says seeing celebrities makes us feel immortal. OK, but seeing Jerry Seinfeld makes people feel really, really lucky.
“Hey, you just missed Jerry,” said the happy man crossing Central Park West against the light.
I raise my fist—why not me?
For me, Jerry Seinfeld’s much more than a lucky charm—his presence in our midst has cosmic sweetness. So I was tickled to learn at 4:43 one day that Jerry’d been cruising Lee’s Art store on 57th Street. Did he look happy?
“You had to be here,” said the clerk ringing up my Florentine wrapping paper.
Why, oh why had I been wasting my life in the upstairs framing department?
Is this your first sighting?
“Naw, he’s here all the time.”
That night at 11 o’clock, it began to gnaw at me. I was bidding good-bye to yet another day without a new Seinfeld show to ease the death of consciousness— better Seinfeld than ambien or howling at the moon or becoming a moonie. Sometimes I watch (I’m loyal) and yes I smile when Jerry blinks good-naturedly and allows himself to be knocked back three steps after “Elaine” punches his chest with both fists, shouting “get out.” The truth is that no matter how corrosive or shallow Jerry or Jerry’s friends act, his benign emanations bless us all. And maybe one night I’ll get lucky. I’ll tune in on something I’ve never seen.
I even missed seeing Jerry after his stand up act at the Beacon Theater. I’d been on the balcony laughing and scribbling notes for a New York Times article. When I got to the stage door, I saw his car door slam. The next day a fan emailed me her photograph of Seinfeld leaving the theater. He was loose-limbed, his collar unbuttoned, relief and joy smeared all over his face.
It gets worse.
There was a moment in the late 1970s when I decided not to buy a Central Park West co-op. Indeed, as years passed, I’ve congratulated myself on my luck. Instead my home is a rent-stabilized apartment on Central Park South. My park view is better—but more important, my rent stays low, so I can take professional risks. The highflyers living in that building on Central Park West would be jacking up my monthly maintenance costs to pay for hand-painted pissoirs and you name it. But my smugness about my real estate decision evaporated the day I learned that Jerry Seinfeld moved into that Central Park West building. I could be nodding hello in the lobby. Watching Jerry out of the corner of my eye at co-op meetings.
Soon after Jerry moved in, I dreamed I was living across the hall (not straight across like Kramer, but more like down the hall) from Jerry. Now that would be luck. Center of the universe luck. As E.B. White said (and I paraphrase), if you come to New York, you have to believe you are lucky.
To the lucky people living in Jerry’s building. Congratulations!
Susan Braudy is the author and journalist whose last book, The Boudins and the Aristocracy of the Left, was nominated for a Pulitzer by publisher Alfred Knopf.
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