One of the running jokes on the classic TV show “Seinfeld” involves Jerry’s infamously short-lived romances. Girlfriends seldom last for more than one episode, and quite a few actresses got their start in show business by playing Jerry’s gal-of-the-week. As shallow as a teardrop in a contact lens, the finicky comedian could find any reason for a breakup. Leslie talked too low. Gillian’s hands were too large. Christie wore the same dress to every outing. Melanie ate her peas one at a time.
The real Jerry Seinfeld — I should point out — has been happily married for 18 years. But part of his shtick on the sitcom was a short attention span where love was concerned. So Jerry continued to nitpick his women — Lisi finished his sentences, Valerie put him too low on her speed-dial roster, Donna liked a blue jeans commercial that he thought was stupid. He even broke up with Patty after she complained that he never got angry.
You remember that episode. Patty remarks that she’s never seen Jerry get really mad. The even-keeled comic tries hard to summon his inner rage, and the initial results are laughable. But then the emotional floodgates break loose, and Jerry finds himself yelling one minute, crying the next and even proposing to his longtime friend Elaine in a fit of euphoria.
It would have been a lot less trouble just to go to the Wrecking Ball.
That’s the latest therapy craze in Manhattan, where patrons can pay to vent by breaking dishes and cell phones. We’ve all had those urges. Your day doesn’t go just right and you want to hurl a plate across the kitchen. The kids are driving you wild and you’re tempted to smash their Xbox. Your laptop crashed again and you would like to drive over it with a small tank.
Now, a savvy entrepreneur named Tom Daly has come up with a way to make cash from our destructive impulses. He opened the Wrecking Ball in New York City in March and charges customers $30 for a half-hour session. That comes with a crowbar and a box of dishes, and then the self-guided therapy begins. Reversing the motto, “You break it, you bought it,” Daly sells items for the express purpose of seeing them reduced to smithereens.
For an extra fee, Daly will throw in more sophisticated targets of rage: laptops ($15), computer monitors ($20), and large-screen TVs ($25). According to an article in The New York Times, he once made the mistake of leaving his own laptop unattended, and an over-zealous customer finished it off with a sledgehammer. Daly also doesn’t bring his cats to the office.
The Times reports that over 1,500 people so far have made their way to the secluded basement dojo to break things. Patrons of the Wrecking Ball are encouraged to wear close-toed shoes and long-sleeve shirts. I would have thought that a pair of horns and a tail would more appropriate for pretending to be a bull in a china shop.
The place has a diverse clientele. Couples come on dates. Singles come after breakups. Employees come after getting fired. Cleveland fans come often.
One of the strangest episodes of the old “Andy Griffith Show” has Sherriff Andy going out to investigate a domestic disturbance. It seems that a middle-aged couple has been upsetting the neighbors with their quarrels — shouting, slamming doors, throwing dinner plates and so on. The folksy officer sits the man and his wife down and tells them that they’ve got to start acting nice to each other or else he’ll have to put them in jail for disturbing the peace. They agree.
Their household quiets down considerably. But soon everyone else starts to complain. The man and his wife snap at friends, co-workers and every waitress in town. The anger they used to vent at each other has to go somewhere, so they take it out on anyone they can find. In the end, Andy has no choice but to let them resume their kitchen brawls, admitting that some people just aren’t happy unless they’re mad.
I can’t exactly picture the Wrecking Ball making much money in Mayberry — surely the world is not ready for the spectacle of Aunt Bea pulverizing a teacup. But I do think Tom Daly is onto something. Some people need an outlet for their frustrations. I might also suggest that he expand his business to include folks who need an outlet for their obsessive-compulsive traits. I’m sure somebody would pay good money to clean up all those broken dishes.