I’m not quite sure if I’m feeling the Bern yet, but one thing is absolutely sure: I’m loving Larry David as Bernie Sanders. The resemblance is uncanny: the permanently disheveled appearance, the angry speaking voice that’s a few levels above what’s acceptable indoors, the incessant complaining. Larry David has nailed this because Bernie Sanders is Larry David. But the other night at dinner with a friend, I realized that I too might be Larry David.
I know this is a time where we should be deciding which political candidate we identify with most instead of which celebrity political portrayal really drives it home. But I’m not identifying with Larry David from a place of praise. While his Bernie Sanders impression is so spot-on I can’t even deal, it’s Larry David the person that I may be the millennial, black, gay version of.
At dinner with a close friend, I found myself covering a wide range of topics from the point of view of a cranky, middle-aged, Jewish man. I rehashed my story about how aggressive the Empire State Building ticket sellers are. I very seriously declared how I’d move to another country if Donald Trump was elected president. I complained about the MTA and how dirty/awful the service is. I brought up pretentious film and TV that’s so weird it’s not considered accessible. My conversation topics weaved back and forth between pissed, irritated, and angry. A wide range of emotions, I know.
Every now and then, when I felt I might be discussing an intimate life detail too loudly or sound too much like an angry black man, I’d look at the couple dining next to us. I could tell they were listening to every word I said but pretending not to. Not that it was my fault. Every NYC restaurant seems to have been built in someone’s living room and the tables are never more than 5 centimeters apart. If I make any sudden movements, I end up with my elbow in someone else’s cavatelli.
See, there it is. I just turned into Larry David while I was writing this. So what is it that alerts me to my very Larry Davidian behavior? It isn’t just my inappropriately loud restaurant rants or my unpopular, combative opinions or my seeming complete disregard for decency when I’m in the comfort of great friends. It most certainly isn’t a disheveled appearance. Come on, I’m a fashion blogger. I’m always put together even when I head to Duane Reade to buy deodorant. Uh, Duane Reade, don’t get me started on that place.
Here's some classic Larry where he made a really awkward situation much worse (NSFW):
Larry David, at least as the extreme version of himself on Curb Your Enthusiasm, was a polarizing figure. He made the all wrong decisions in public situations (as evidenced above). He proudly adopted and defended unpopular public opinion. He spoke his mind without even the slightest filter. He basically proved that the older you get, the less you have to care about what anyone thinks. Including your own spouse. And you definitely don't need to process thoughts before releasing them. In fact, you can incorrectly navigate your way through entire situations without thinking (also evidenced above).
Even outside of the hilarious antics caused by his cranky surface nature, there was an often neurotic sense of introspection underneath. After an argument, he’d wonder if he’d been mean enough or tough enough. He was always searching for opinions on whether or not he did the right thing. Even though his biggest character flaw was his old man bravado, it was his intense self-awareness that made him truly unique. In most cases, he completely ignored that self-awareness and found himself in some cringe-worthy moments. But in some scenes, you could see that all-knowing neurosis shine through. A wink throughout the series from David and his writers. Yes, this man knows he should handle this situation differently, but he’s actively choosing not too. (Please see the video below.) You can see in his regret that he actually has a heart and that all of his social skills haven’t eroded away.
There’s part of me that identifies with him. I admire him for overriding his common sense and instinct to say what he feels. I, too, have done this from time to time. But I am not a character on a sitcom, and this blunt behavior (while forward thinking) has come back to bite me in the ass hard a few times. I’ve learned from (some of) my mistakes. But every now and then, there’s that middle-aged version of me that slips through and angrily argues his point. He’s fiery. He’s bold. He’s daring. And he often sparks the ire of those in his immediate presence. And he can see the train wreck coming from a mile away but still keeps moving ahead at full speed.
Larry David is an intellectual idol of mine. For all the people who try to put forth a perfect public image, he argues that we should be able to say something stupid and proudly stick our feet in our mouths afterward. Thank you, Mr. David, for paving the way for all those millennials out there with cranky middle-aged souls. Maybe I'll keep my inner Larry in check just enough so no one calls the police on me while I'm at the doctor's office.