Frequently I find my life paralleling Seinfeld. Not in a hilarious, fun way, more just like a nuisance. It’s also possible my life is nothing like any episode of Seinfeld, but that ever-present bugaboo stochasticity is just tricking my broken brain into thinking it is. I’m pretty sure my broken brain is easily tricked. In any case, do you remember the Seinfeld episode when Kramer runs the marathon and refuses to wear the AIDS ribbon? I ran into my own similar situation today after voting in this midterm election. Sometimes if someone asks me to do something in a way that implies I have no other choice, I’ll automatically rally against it. I don’t know why. I think they call that… being an asshole? Yeah, that’s the one.
Anyway, I went to my usual polling place, filled out my ballot, dropped it in the box, and was heading out the door when the man called after me, “You forgot your sticker!” Ah yes. The infamous little “I Voted” sticker. I’d usually have just shut up and taken one, but just a few minutes prior (the space between filling in the no bubble on A, and yes on B, to be precise), I was contemplating the waste involved in manufacturing so many stickers that were only going to be worn for a few hours (at most) then discarded. Logistically, I know that on the scale of useful to wasteful, those dumb stickers (probably) barely register. So there I was, I’d cast my ballot and was heading out the door, when a short man with clipboard in hand called out, “You forgot your sticker!” (I think entire wars have been waged by short men with clipboards.) I think I shrugged him off with a “no thank you, sir,” but knowing how my broken brain can misinterpret things and will oftentimes lose the correct message between my mind and my mouth, I might have said something like “Don’t-want-that.” He then proceeded to (unconsciously) echo the mob of marathoners in Seinfeld by yelling, “You don’t want the sticker?! But you MUST take the sticker!”
“I MUST take the sticker? Well that’s why I don’t want to take it.” I think at that point I was glowing with that special sort of smarmy, self-satisfaction that comes from perfectly constructing a bridge between the countless hours of pop culture you’ve absorbed, and an actual life experience. I think that satisfaction level rivals the feeling of creating a whole building of Legos made entirely of the same color, or using a Sharpie for the first time.
I stood there, waiting for the joke to land (the joke which made a very thinly veiled connection to one line of one show from decades ago), watching the space between his eyebrows shrink. Somewhere between an inch to a half inch, I admitted defeat, took the sticker, and slunk out. The takeaway of the story is that if shows from the early ‘90s taught me anything, it’s that you should just take the ribbon and shut up. Also, that most problems in the ‘90s could have been solved with the advent of cell phones, and that although everybody in Cheers knows your name, nobody knew how to pour a beer.