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5:15 p.m. - July 14, 2005
I May Be George Costanza. Uh, oh!
I saw parts of myself in a television character last night, and it scared me.

It probably scared me, straight, too! (Well, some people hope so).

The show was Seinfeld, and of course, the character was George, who is the most irritating and nebbish-like character on the show (and thatís saying a lot). The episode was the one where George is obsessed that Jerryís girlfriend doesnít like him. Heís so obsessed that he screws up a promising relationship, just to find out why Jerryís girlfriend hates him so.

WelllÖSparkyÖ.I wasnít that bad. But I caught myself obsessing over a perceived mistake that I made in a friendship that I almost screwed up the whole lot. Not irreparably screwed up everything, but it was getting a mite bit uncomfortable everywhere.

Now, I donít want this to be a navel-gazing exercise in ďwoe-is-uh-me-bop, Iím such a loser, look what I didĒ. So Iíll gloss over the facts of the events, because thatís not the item of import here.

Basically, I made a call last week regarding a friend to a mutual friend Ė it was very ill-timed and not well received Ė I heard about it big time, obsessed over the mistake Ė and brought it home. Itís not a good week to bring crap like that home, either, since I have a house full of guests (more on that another day) and need to be nice. When I received a cell phone call last night I took it and went outside to resolve the issue, as I didnít want anyone at home to get involved in my mess. Of course that made the home front suspicious and I heard ALL about that too. Thankfully, most all is resolved one way or another and Iím not sleeping on any couches tonight.

The query I have is that is it weird to see yourself in a fictional character, and what happens when you see glimpses of yourself on TV in a mostly unpleasant light? How should you react?

Last night I felt like everyone in the world knew what my issues were Ė that everyone who knew me could point to me and say, ďThatís you, you schlub! Thatís you!Ē Not a pleasant feeling, especially when youíre already down and blue about the whole schmear.

Other times, on other shows, I see behavior that Iíve exhibited being presented and I just get this oogy feeling, like they somehow extracted some of my personality into this character and displayed it all for see.

When I see that, I donít know whether to cry or ask for residuals.

Iím sure everyone sees part of themselves in some characters on TV. The scary part for me is the shows I tend to watch. Thankfully, I havenít seen myself in many Law & Order episodes, but sometimes I see myself in the actions of people in the Sopranos and Six Feet Under, and those shows donít always show the most together people in the world.

If you identify yourself on TV, and you donít like what you see, is it a cry for a behavior change? Well, probably. If you donít like yourself, then you probably should try to change what you donít like or at least alter it in a way.

That was part of the conversation last night Ė could I change an aspect of my behavior that is unsettling? I said yes because I thought the behavior was a byproduct of stress and lack of sleep. The question is still yet to be resolved, obviously, because you canít change in one day. Someone disagreed Ė because I am who I am. (And I ainít Popeye, in case youíre wondering) and thatís just part of me.

But if you see it on TV Ė and you notice it Ė then youíre definitely self-aware. People around you may not notice it but you do. I think thatís even worse Ė I mean itís bad enough to have someone tell you that X you do is unsettling to them, but to have you notice that you do X and itís unsettling to you, then thatís a different kettle oí fish.

Thatís also why thereís never a glut of therapists in the world.

I do think that self-awareness of a fault is important, especially if you want to stay married, keep your friends, and not burn any more bridges. Of course not everything you think is a fault is a fault, and not everything that you think is just a charming idiosyncracy will be taken that way.

You probably will need a scorecard Ė fault or charming idiosyncracy? (Go ahead, take a census of your friends! I dare you!)

When I woke up today, I decided to just go forward, and try to curtail the actions that made me George-like. Can I totally change my spots? Probably not until I get more sleep and less stress (check 2020 or so), but when Kristin starts sleeping through the night I bet my demeanor and mood improve greatly.

If I become a better person, should I thank George Costanza?

(Smed, what is with asking and answering questions in this essay? Have you turned into Donald Rumsfeld all of a sudden?)


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