Lunch with Larry

Published: October 21, 2009

By Jim Lichtman
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Okay, boys and girls, it’s time for this week’s dilemma.

You invite a friend to lunch.  Great conversation, terrific food, the check comes and the person you invited grabs the check first. Who should pay, the inviter or the person who grabs the check first?

That’s just one of a plethora of ethical dilemmas “Larry David” faces on the HBO show Curb Your Enthusiasm.

David’s TV character is always trying to hold people accountable to some unwritten code of behavior.  i.e. According to Larry, one should never abuse the sampling privilege at an ice cream store… especially if people are waiting to be served.

But in the Larry David universe, if you’re obnoxious in calling them on it, there are consequences to pay. As it turns out the “sample abuser” is the dean of admissions at a local school that a friend desperately wants her son to attend and Larry had promised to meet with the dean to secure the deal.

What’s interesting is the fact that, like many of us, Larry has no problem violating his own rules if he, a) thinks he can get away with it, and b) it conveniently helps him get what he wants.

Last season, Larry’s separated from his wife, Cheryl.  Near the end of the season, “New Larry,” as he refers to himself, has changed so much that Cheryl admits that she’s interested in dating him again.  However, she wants to check with her therapist first.

Larry’s so desperate he concocts a scheme. He will stake out the therapist’s office and when she leaves, a friend will pretend to steal her purse. Larry quickly jumps to the woman’s rescue, and bingo, he’s a hero.  Bingo two, the therapist will give Cheryl the green light!  That’s the scheme. What could be simpler?

However, in the Larry David universe, a) nothing is simple, and b) things usually end badly.

What’s always enjoyable about watching David’s character is observing all the ethical hoops Larry forces others to jump through only to see him trip over many of those same hoops himself:

Larry steals flowers from a friend’s memorial in order to make up for a slight.

Larry agrees to go out on a date with a woman he meets in a coffee shop, only to discover that the woman is in a wheelchair.  In spite of his prejudice, he’d rather go out on the date than confess the truth.  However, he continues the relationship because of the all the “perks” the handicaped woman receives.

Near the end of the swashbuckling, Errol Flynn film The Adventures of Don Juan, the irresistible Juan tells his best friend that he’s sworn off women.  From now on, Juan says, it’s a life of study and introspection.

At that moment, a carriage stops and a beautiful woman leans out and asks, “Is this the way to Madrid?”

“Why yes,” Juan says tipping his cap and smiling.

The woman smiles back and the coach travels on its way.  Juan promptly turns his horse around and begins to follow.

“Juan,” his friend asks. “I thought you said you were finished with women?”

“My friend,” he says, “there’s a little bit of Don Juan in every man.  But since I am Don Juan, there must be more of it in me!”

I think of that line every time I watch Larry David.  There’s a little bit of Larry in all of us, but since he is Larry David, he’s just more full of it.


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