Much Ado About Nothing

Something about Seinfeld unifies people. Just about everybody you meet can carry on a conversation about a favorite episode or two. Sending out your own holiday greetings may remind you of Elaine's X-rated Christmas cards; losing your car in a parking garage may bring to mind that episode. The weirdness encountered in the dating scene is something many viewers can connect with. Maybe we won't be carrying an air conditioner or a goldfish in a plastic bag, but we can identify with the compulsions that give rise to this sort of eccentricity. On the "show about nothing," everybody can relate to something.

But then there's another breed of Seinfeld fans. People who, for instance, have collected every episode of the series on video. People who feel that the series finale this week hasn't gotten enough hype. People, er, like me. With the last of the 178 episodes airing at 8 p.m. Thursday, May 14, there's no doubt that, come next fall, many of us will be feeling a void in our lives.

Valley Seinfeld-heads who can't bear to just sit down with a box of Junior Mints and a Snapple and watch the "Sein-off" in front of their own TVs--those who need to see the show off to the Happy Rerun Land in the company of others--may do so at the Mill Avenue Sport Rock Club, 3231 South Mill. The bar will offer two-for-one drink specials and giveaways of Seinfeld paraphernalia.

For fans of both Seinfeld and major league baseball, America's Original Sportsbar, 455 North 32nd Street at Arizona Center, will be pulling down the East Coast feed of Seinfeld at 5 p.m. Thursday so that those attending the 7 p.m. D-backs-Milwaukee Brewers game will be able to see the show. For those not going to BOB--and for less fanatical Seinfeld buffs--the episode will be repeated at 7 p.m. In the tradition of Jerry's apartment, complimentary cereal will be served throughout the evening.

But when all these festivities are over, the question will remain--what are ardent viewers going to do? NBC will try to fill this gap with what they think is their best new sitcom or, more likely, will move Frasier or Just Shoot Me or some other high-rated show into the "Seinspot" to make the loss less noticeable. But this will be slim comfort for Seinfeld fans. Must See TV will never be the same.

What can be done to dull the pains of withdrawal? Here are some possibilities:

--Read a book. There are some great official and unofficial tomes on the show out there, among them the star's own SeinLanguage (Bantam), The Seinfeld Universe (Citadel), Seinfeld: The Totally Unauthorized Tribute (Three Rivers Press) and, most recently, Larry David's The Seinfeld Scripts (Harper Collins, $17.95), a collection of the series' most popular episodes. Now you and your twisted friends can act them out in the privacy of your own homes.

--Check out one of the many Web sites dedicated to Seinfeld. Recommended:

--Base your home decor on the show. Both "The Kramer" portrait and the portrait of George in his underwear can be purchased at popular picture and frame shops. Z Gallerie at Scottsdale Fashion Square prices them both at $20 unframed.

--If you're a true fanatic, you may just have to make a pilgrimage to the Seinfeld Mecca, New York City, and take the "Real Kramer Reality Tour," given by Kenny Kramer, who inspired the Kramer character--he was the across-the-hall neighbor of Larry David, Seinfeld co-creator and executive producer. The tour of real-life spots that inspired locales or incidents on the show is available on Saturdays and Sundays for $37.50 a ticket. (Call 1-800-KRAMERS for more information.)

The Ur-Kramer, who recently visited the Valley to perform his "Reality Road Show" at a private corporate event--and to play golf--insists that those who take his Reality Tour "have the time of their lives. We insist upon it."

--Krista Ciccozzi