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October 23, 2009

Yesterday, in the comments on my Parking post, Lynn asked a very good question about the show “Curb your enthusiasm” and whether or not I had seen the latest episode. I had not. But now I had to.

Lynn gave a very good little synopsis of the episode, so I’m not going to repeat it, but in a nutshell, the lead character dates a woman in a wheelchair and Lynn wondered how I, or any other person with a disability, might have felt about the show.

Let me just say this. Larry David is an awkward self centered idiot. That’s the pretty much the whole show. That’s what you should expect when you tune in. That’s the humour. And it’s funny. Often very funny. Other times just awkward. But it is what it is.

But let me back up for a second and tell you why Lynn’s question made me burst out laughing.

I work with a lot of fun guys. Well, I don’t work with them, they are web designers and coders and honestly I have no idea what they are rambling on about most of the time, but we eat lunch together. And we verbally abuse each other for fun. They joke about my age, I joke about their lack of knowledge, they make fun of my choice in movies, I make fun of their limited freedom (they are all married with kids) and so on and so on. All in good fun.

They all like “Curb your Enthusiasm” and have started watching the episodes over the lunch hour the day after it airs on cable. The first time was two weeks ago and they couldn’t find me before lunch. I found out afterwards and let them have it. “Thanks for the invite jerks!”  “No no, we couldn’t find you.” “Ya ya sure, I see how it is. Exclude the disabled guy. No problem. I get it.”  “Shit, he’s on to us!”  And that’s the way it is with us all the time. Great fun.

So this week, they made sure to come tell me. “Ok, this is your official invite. We will be in my office watching Curb your Enthusiasm at lunch. Are you coming?” “Meh, maybe, if I feel like it”

Well, I was eating lunch and I forgot, and by the time I remembered I was involved in a conversation with someone else. When I finally headed towards my friends office I wasn’t sure I even wanted to watch it anymore.

My buddy’s office has a glass front. Like a big aquarium. Two of them were in there watching. They were facing me, but the screen had its back to the glass so I couldn’t see what they were watching, or even if it was over and they were tackling some sort of coding issue. As I came down the hall and got closer, they both looked incredibly uncomfortable. Even from a distance, just from the look on their faces, I was getting the impression they didn’t want me to join them. Maybe it wasn’t even a look as much as just the vibe I was getting. They honestly looked like deer in headlights. So I just pretended like I was headed back to my desk, shot them the finger, and kept going. (don’t worry, we often greet each other that way)

And I really didn’t even remember the whole thing until Lynn posed the question. Then it all made sense. And that’s why I burst out laughing.

So today I went to see them and asked if that’s why they had looked so uncomfortable. Sure enough, that was it. They felt the show was way over the top and, being friends, didn’t want to offend me. I told them they should know me better than that, and asked to have the episode put into my network folder so I could watch it on my lunch, which I did.

Well, clearly, if I had never ever heard of the show, and this was the first episode I had ever watched, I might be offended. But I’ve seen the show before. Larry is who he is, that’s the character, that’s the running gag. He’s says the wrong things to the wrong people and just generally reacts poorly and inappropriately all the time. So knowing this, I was able to laugh at most of it.

The only problem I had with the show, honestly, is that it was poorly executed. First and foremost, if you’re going to portray disabled people, get disabled actors. The two actresses in the show are not disabled in real life. To me that’s the equivalent of portraying a black person in a movie by putting makeup on a white person. Makes no sense right?

That would have solved the other problems with the episode, hopefully, because you would have had expert consultants on the scene to tell you what was incorrect about the things being portrayed. For example, the whole show, Larry is pushing her around in her chair. Wrong. Disabled people push themselves, or have power chairs. Another scene, she lets herself be carried up the stairs by Larry in his arms. Again, no way. NEVER. That would NOT happen. It was done for laughs, but I couldn’t laugh because I was busy thinking about how implausible it was.

There were a few funny parts too that were well done. Like the assumption that a disabled woman in the same neighborhood as another disabled woman must certainly know her. That’s funny because that nonsense actually happens. Also Larry trying to get into a comfortable position to kiss her was kinda funny. It is a little tricky.

So overall, I didn’t find the show offensive. No more than I ever find Larry David offensive. That’s the point of the show after all. I just wish he had put a little more effort into it.

And then tonight, at Kelly’s building after work, I had my own little “Curb your Enthusiasm” episode.

A little old lady got into the elevator with me.

She looked at me puzzled.

“Which floor dear?”

“Seven please” I said.

She pressed seven.

She looked at me again.

“Which floor do you live on, one or seven”

“I live on seven”

“Oh, I thought you lived on one”

I thought about it, but I’m tired of being confused with another guy that lives on one.

“No, there IS another gentleman in wheelchair that lives on one, but I live on seven”

“Hmmm.”… pause …  “So there are two of you.”

Sigh.  For the record, I look NOTHING like that guy. WTF?

6 Comments leave one →
  1. October 23, 2009 10:24 pm

    Yeah…the floor one guy is young and smokes and has dark hair and a manual chair. Sylvain is old like me (ha) and doesn’t smoke and has blondish hair and an electric chair. Yet SO MANY people ask Sylvain when he moved from the first floor. “There are two of you.” ???

    • October 23, 2009 10:43 pm

      Sadly, I think she meant “there are two of your kind that live in the building”
      She would not know that that is not an acceptable thing to say.
      There goes the neighbourhood! 🙂

    • October 23, 2009 10:45 pm

      Oh and we are not “old”. Especially if we consider the median age of the condo owners in the complex.

  2. Kate permalink
    October 27, 2009 8:08 pm

    The octogenarian women in my building have a tendency to say things that might have been considered acceptable ten years or more ago but certainly aren’t now (nor should they ever been). I find that I don’t bother to get into the way I might with a younger person. Is that age-ism or consideration? (If I make it to my eighties, I might want people to cut me some slack – but I’d hope that I’d always be kind.)


    • Sylvain permalink*
      October 28, 2009 10:39 am

      Hi Kate, Yeah I generally don’t get into it at all with older people. In fact I didn’t get into it with this one either. My tone of voice was very patient and kind, and implied merely that I was pointing out something matter of factly. The way these things play out usually is that I smile and nod and don’t say too much, and then rant or laugh about it with Kelly. 🙂

  3. October 29, 2009 10:51 am

    It’s nice that you have that kind of camaraderie at work with the guys. It always makes work more enjoyable.

    I haven’t ever watched curb your enthusiasm so unfortunately I would have nothing to add to that part of the conversation. I’ve heard that it is a good show.

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