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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Curb Your Enthusiasm: "The Hot Towel"

Illustration for article titled Curb Your Enthusiasm: "The Hot Towel"
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"How about mind your own business? How bout that?"

Following last week's non-reunion show reunion show, this week Larry is out to have a good time—which means dating his agreeable (clearly too agreeable considering she has a boyfriend) ex Mary Jane Porter; going to Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen's anniversary party, with a nice gift in hand; and, of course, pointing out to his fellow members of society—from some guy in Crocodile Hunter shorts on a plane to Christian Slater—exactly which unwritten rules of society they're breaking. This is Larry's favorite pastime—and one of my favorites to watch. Because, the thing is, Larry is usually right: Men shouldn't wear shorts on a plane. In fact, most men shouldn't wear shorts in public ever. It is disgusting. Likewise, you shouldn't eat half a bowl of caviar at a friend's cocktail party. Because, besides looking like a pig, it's just rude to eat almost all of food that is put out for an entire party-ful of people to enjoy. And, of course, "from the heart" gifts, like having your (untalented) daughter sing "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You" at an anniversary party, aren't really gifts at all. They're bullshit. Having your kid sing a song instead of bringing a present is lame. More lame than reunion shows, even.

But what Larry always fails to grasp is that notice of violation of such unwritten laws should usually be unspoken. It's just as rude to point out to a complete stranger, apropos of nothing, that his shorts are disgusting, as it is to wear said disgusting, inappropriate-for-human-eyes shorts. Likewise, it was rude for Christian Slater to eat his weight in the communal caviar, but it was also rude of Larry to point out that Christian "made it his dinner." Larry doesn't point out violations of the unwritten laws to be rude, of course. He does it because observing such violations bothers him, irritates him, agitates him to such a point that he can't not say something. If Croc-Hunter-shorts guy or Christian Slater had said to Larry, "Mind your own business," Larry would have definitely responded, "It is my business!" Because, you see, these rules of society affect us all, but none as much as they affect Larry David.

Seriously, though? Sometimes, actually most of the time on Curb, Larry is the hero of the easily, and rightly annoyed everywhere. Tonight, when he shut down Sammy Green's sad cocktail party serenade, who among you didn't laugh, and then, having laughed, wish you could be so boldly, unapologetically rude the next time you're forced to put on a polite smile in an uncomfortable situation? And when Larry told the wandering tenor at Matteo's, "Okay, okay. That's enough. We're eating," even if he only did it to cover up his "I can't stand the sound of the human voice" lie, wasn't it a beautiful, hilarious thing to behold? It was like he was standing up for anyone ever annoyed by a troubadour in a restaurant anywhere. Singers in restaurants: There oughta be a law.

Elsewhere in the episode, Larry was systematically challenging the unwritten law that doctors, yes even doctors, have a right to privacy. Dr. Morrison, aka Bookman, Library Investigator from Seinfeld, parried Larry's request for his home phone number ("I don't want to be in your wallet."), before ultimately caving. Almost immediately Morrison regretted his decison to let a little Larry into his life when Larry accidentally called him, prompting a long, hilarious wrong number exchange. ("Ok, I'm hanging up now." "Don't tell me every little thing you're doing. Just do it.") Actually, all of David's interactions with Dr. Bookman were hilarious—especially when a be-shorted Larry sought refuge in the Dr's house from Mary Jane's crazed boyfriend. Phillip Baker Hall's gravelly deadpan is such a perfect foil for Larry's goofy neuroticism.

By the end of the episode, Larry has been on both the giving and recieving end of unsolicited society tips: The woman in the street yells at him to "Smile!", he is shunned by Dr. Morrison and Ted Danson (in part at least) for wearing shorts, and Susie throws Larry out for yelling "Shut the fuck up!" when Sammy starts her encore. Then Larry does the right thing and apologizes to the restaurant opera tenor—just in time for the tenor to provide a dramatic soundtrack for his beating at the hands of Mary-Jane's ex. 


Stray Observations:

—"I like to sing. I like to whistle. I like to play the bongos on my leg. I like to imitate horses. But I don't do it, Okay? Cause there's someone sitting next to me." This is the 2nd time this season that Larry's mentioned impersonating horses. He must really like it.


—Notice that Larry called Jeff, "Fat Boy" when he accidentally called Dr. Morrison?

—"Don't involve Mrs. Morrison in this!" Every time they cut to mute Mrs. Morrison sitting there, I laughed.


—Having a dominant bra-unhooking hand/make-out side was a Seinfeld plot.

—Mary & Ted felt a little under-utilized in this episode, right?

—Christian Slater = surprisingly funny. But his real skill is piling caviar on those thin, little crackers.