As fans of “Seinfeld” may recall, in one episode George Costanza was at an afternoon meeting at the Yankee office. On the table was a large bowl of shrimp appetizers which George was busily gobbling. This caused co-worker Reilly to quip, “Hey George, the ocean called, they’re running out of shrimp.” The meeting broke up in laughter.
On the way home the perfect comeback came to George, “The jerk store called and they’re running out of you.” But Reilly takes a job at Goodyear in Ohio. So George flies there and has a meeting with him, his boss and other executives. (George brings the shrimp.)
As George gobbles shrimp, Reilly repeats the “ocean called” line and George then delivers his jerk store comeback, but it bombs. Flustered, George adds, “Oh yeah, well I had sex with your wife!” Unfortunately for George the man’s wife was in a coma. Oops.
The point of the show was that once the moment is gone there’s no getting it back. Or maybe you have to wait eight years?
In 2004 I was working out in our building gym when a gung-ho exercise fiend, Lance, engaged me in debate about the upcoming Bush-Kerry election. Lance called Kerry a “traitor” for throwing his Vietnam medals back at a 1971 anti-war demonstration. (Lance was pro Bush who dodged the draft to party, I mean to serve in the Air National Guard’s “champagne unit.”)
As Lance left he called me a “liberal a**hole.” Like George I didn’t have a comeback. (At least I didn’t say, “The jerk store called.”)
Lance was a bully who worshipped Lance Armstrong, who was a bully on steroids. Given the hellhole Armstrong is in, I’d love to talk to exercise fiend Lance, but he moved years ago. I can only hope he reads this, but even if he doesn’t at least it made for a column.
Last week, Armstrong made his “confession” during a TV appearance with Oprah on her network OWN, causing a lot of people to ask, “What the hell channel is OWN on?”
Personally, I found Armstrong’s answers robotic and self-serving and I didn’t believe his contrition for a second. That he survived a life-threatening battle with cancer is nothing short of remarkable. But, as he said of his own obsessive personality, and I’m paraphrasing, “It helped in the fight against cancer and in racing, but didn’t as a human being.”
Determined to ruin the lives of anyone who revealed the truth, Armstrong not only sued but won a judgment, even though he was lying out of his tuchus. Now, however, Armstrong’s going to pay the piper, or a bunch of pipers in court. As CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin commented, “Armstrong is worth over $100 million. After what he admitted to Oprah, he’s going to be worth considerably less.”
If the Armstrong saga is ugly, the Manti Te’o story is just downright weird. Hawaiian-born Te’o was a star linebacker at Notre Dame and a Heisman Trophy runner-up. In fact, one of the most touching stories of the entire 2012 college season was Manti’s strong play despite the devastating loss of his grandmother and girlfriend only hours apart. Except for the teeny tiny detail that the girlfriend didn’t exist!
If you watched Manti’s interview with Katie Couric (another hour of my life I’ll never get back) it seems that Manti was the victim of a twisted hoax known as “catfishing.” Reportedly, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, a friend of Te’o's, created the persona of Lennay Kekua who would be in a coma from a car accident, be diagnosed with leukemia, be discharged from the hospital and then die. And oh yes, two months later be alive.
In four months, Manti’s phone records reveal over 1,000 calls to Lennay, “the love of my life,” 110 of them longer than 60 minutes! But, not only was Manti not talking to Lennay, it’s likely he was actually talking to falsetto-voiced Tuiasosopo, reportedly a pastor at a Palmdale church with show business aspirations (“Christian crooner”) and tried out for the NBC show “The Voice.” (Can this get any weirder?)
Whereas Armstrong lived a lie for a decade, if we believe Manti, his was only for a month, from when he knew Lennay didn’t exist but was so embarrassed he continued to publicly mourn her death. Talk-show host Jimmy Kimmel may have summed up Armstrong and Te’o best. “One doped and the other was a dope.”
Maybe this is my “inner George Costanza” but after writing this, all I want to do is eat some shrimp.
The full Manti Te’o interview is on YouTube and is only 41 minutes. Jack can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.