How Seinfeld Became My Dating Litmus Test

NBC screenshot
NBC screenshot

It was 2006. Her name was Ashley. We met at one of those "young professional" mixers people only attend to meet attractive young professionals of the opposite sex. She was an attractive young professional of the opposite sex. We exchanged business cards and made plans to "connect" in the near future. The connection ended up being drinks a week later.


We hung out for a couple hours. Drinking, talking about our jobs, and getting progressively more familiar as the night continued. The shift from "two people meeting for drinks" to "two people who very well might hook up at the end of the night" had begun. I like to think it was because of my charm, but it was more likely the half-priced happy hour mojitos.

I asked if she was getting into anything that night. She said "I don't have any real plans." — which roughly translates to "Whatever you want to do." I said "Ok." — which roughly translates to "Oh shit, I might get some ass tonight!!!"

Then it happened.

The TV above the bar was on CNN. They were doing a feature on Michael Richards, who'd just begun his apology tour to make amends for his racist outburst during a stand-up show.

I asked her thoughts about the Richards' story.


"Michael Richards. Kramer from Seinfeld."

"Oh. That guy who said that racist shit? What about him?"

"You didn't know who he was before this?"

"I mean, I heard he was from Seinfeld. I wouldn't have guessed that, though."


"Yeah. I didn't watch that show. Seemed mad corny to me. I guess people like that type of humor. But it seemed wack as fuck."


I never looked at Ashley (or half-priced mojitos) the same way again.

We hung out for the rest of the night. But, I could not get past her Seinfeld hate. How could she not think George Costanza was one of the five funniest TV characters ever? If I called someone a soup Nazi, or a "close talker," would she even get the reference? And what the fuck was I supposed to do with all of my Festivus jokes? Just…not say them???


She spent the night at my place. Nothing happened, though. She had somewhere between three and seven mojitos too many, and I was raised right.

The awkward morning convo was the last time we spoke in person. She apologized profusely for drinking so much. And might still think that was the reason no relationship — or even no second date — ever materialized. I didn't have heart to tell her it was because she'd never understand why "marine biologist" makes me chuckle every time I hear it.


Famed 20th century philosopher Rob Gordon once said "…what really matters is what you like, not what you are like… Books, records, films - these things matter. Call me shallow but it's the fuckin' truth." This may not be true for everyone. But it is definitely and unquestionably true for me. No other personality quirk matters as much to me as a woman's sense of humor. I can deal with practically anything else:

You're an atheist? Well, I believe in God, but I see your point! You're a republican? Oh well. Republicans buy sneakers too. You don't want kids? I don't blame you. Baby rabbits are better than baby humans. You hate my family? Yeah, those niggas are crazy.


But, I just can't deal with someone who doesn't find humor in the same things I do. Of course, she doesn't have to find humor in every single thing I find funny. That would be disturbing. Because my sense of humor is disturbing. But since 99% of relationship time is spent talking — talking during dinner, talking before, during, and after sex, talking on the way to work, talking while trying to stay awake in church, etc — I can't imagine spending that time with someone who doesn't recognize and appreciate the same ironies, references, and inside jokes. And yes, this makes a diehard Seinfeld fan and a person who thought Seinfeld sucked completely incompatible.

Fortunately, I found someone who shares my sense of humor. She loves Seinfeld, and Curb Your Enthusiasm, and even tries really hard to get into Louie.


It's not all perfect, though. She still hasn't finished watching The Wire. But, I'm letting that slide.

For now.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)



The Wire is my litmus test, naturally because it's the greatest television show of all time. If you can't discuss with me why Omar was such a groundbreaking character, if you can't extrapolate the goings-on in semi-fictional Baltimore to every major urban city, if you can't watch the episode where they said "fuck" for an entire scene and not consider it comedic genius…

your whole perspective is wack and our relationship fades to black like immediately. I have no sense of humor about this.