This sun is making me thirsty.
It’s 2:30 PM on a Thursday afternoon in New York City, and, once again, 45-minutes’ worth of real-life people are lined up to take a tour of the set of a television show. This time, it’s Jerry’s apartment from Seinfeld, and it’s courtesy of Hulu, the green streaming service that has enjoyed uncommon attention thanks to its acquisition of the streaming rights to the entirety of Seinfeld‘s nine seasons. The set is housed in Milk Studios in the brick-lined Meatpacking District, a venue typically known for its Fashion Week comings and goings. The young man in front of me has sideburns in the shape of an astronaut’s pen, and he tells me that Seinfeld is not popular in his unnamed country because the humor — famously, about “nothing” — is “too American.” The man next to him, in a University of Connecticut T-shirt, tells me he heard about this on the radio. I assume he is in his late 40s.
People do not like to be forced to remove their headphones only to be asked, “Long line, huh?” Similarly, the group of women behind me do not like being interrupted to be asked if they, too, think the sun is especially bright on 10th Avenue, and hardly react when I proceed to remove my sunglasses and emote, eyes wide, with the suggestion that “the sun is like, really especially bright today, right?” After a moment of silence, they begin to speak quickly in Spanish, and I am 99 percent certain those women are playing at not understanding me.
I begin to imagine an episode of Seinfeld in which the characters wait in line to see the apartment set from Seinfeld, and it is a perfect episode.
After 30 minutes I’m tempted to ask my line neighbors for sunblock, but suspect they hate me, based on the way they studied my notebook. That’s fine, though, because the Seinfeld (and Hulu) logo is just around the corner, and soon enough I’m inside of this weird simulacrum, museum to my right and fake apartment set to my left. Ahead of me, and just beyond the long line to get into Jerry’s apartment (5B), there is a red curtain and spotlight, and too many people posing in faux stand-up pose. A large man in USPS gear refuses to have his picture taken.
While I’m in line for the apartment, it’s announced that there are actually two lines: one to enter as a “normal person,” and one to enter as Kramer. I choose to be normal, continuing a war I’ve been fighting for more than a decade, while the man in the couple behind me happily tells his girlfriend, “You go ahead and record me.”
He slams through the door, his bare leg extending behind him. He waits for an applause that doesn’t come, and continues into Jerry’s (fake) fake kitchen, where he yanks on the fridge door. An interior shelf falls to the ground; he replaces it, frazzles his face like Kramer, and only stops yucking it up when the attendant, my iPhone in his warm hands, rolls his eyes and tells the dude, “That’s enough. Don’t touch the props.” I pose in the kitchen, and I grimace under the bright lights. I pose on the couch, thumbs-up, and see two girls through the window, pointing and laughing at me. A young girl with pigtails fumbles with the corded phone on the table next to me, confused. Her father is an attractive bearded man who was once a regular customer of mine at a Brooklyn coffee shop, and he refuses to meet my gaze. His wife lifts their smallest daughter and walks past the ’95-era PC, shelf of tchotchkes, bathroom, and hung bike, and gets in line for the fake standup prop.
The museum also has a red chaise lounge — not velvet, but close enough — on which the UConn man with a hunky #dadbod is posed, in full low-lunge, without a shirt; I take a picture, but only a mental one. Later, after I pose for my own shot (see above), I ask the man how he likes the place, and he says it’s fun enough, before walking away, gladly receiving the complementary mini box of Junior Mints as he slips his Oakleys over his eyes and steps out onto 14th Street.