One ‘Seinfeld’ Episode Made Using Public Bathrooms a Nightmare for Julia Louis-Dreyfus

What if she can’t spare a square?
One ‘Seinfeld’ Episode Made Using Public Bathrooms a Nightmare for Julia Louis-Dreyfus

It seems as though a lot of Seinfeld fans tend to confuse the show with reality, likely because several of the characters were based on real people and one of them runs a literal “reality” bus tour. But at least when fans approach Jerry Seinfeld or Larry David to express their admiration for the show, they don’t interrupt their private bathroom time. 

Unfortunately, that’s not the case for Julia Louis-Dreyfus, all thanks to one episode.

Season Five’s “The Stall” found Kramer prank calling phone sex lines, and George developing a crush on Elaine’s “Mimbo” boyfriend Tony. But it opened with Elaine in a movie theater bathroom, where she discovers that there’s no toilet paper in her stall. Naturally, she asks the woman in the next stall over if she can spare some, but she claims she can’t — not even a square.

The woman turns out to be Jerry’s girlfriend (played by the world’s wealthiest actress, Jami Gertz), and Elaine finally gets her revenge in the end. 

But as Louis-Dreyfus revealed, that is the one episode that “haunts me to this day.” Apparently Seinfeld obsessives aren’t always super-chill when they encounter “Elaine” while taking a leak. “If somebody knows I’m going to the bathroom, in a public toilet, I am often asked if I could ‘spare a square,’” Louis-Dreyfus has explained. “And everybody thinks that’s so funny. And it’s a little bit irritating when you’re trying to go to the bathroom, to have to be Elaine again.”

Which is bad, but still not quite as bad as the time she was literally called “Elaine” by a nurse while she was naked and giving birth. Thankfully she stopped short of asking her to do the Elaine dance.

The blame for the “can’t spare a square” scene goes to the episode’s writer Larry Charles, who got the idea from a newspaper column. According to Charles, “bathrooms were a big deal” in the Seinfeld offices. David and Seinfeld had a private bathroom in their office, which Charles used without permission, inspiring him to write the episode in which George quits his job because he’s not allowed to use the executive toilet.

After being discovered using the executive bathroom himself, Charles was forced to use the common bathroom in the hallway, where toilet paper supplies were frequently an issue. Around the same time, he read a “Dear Abby” column all about “two women getting into a fight over toilet paper in a bathroom,” and realized that it would be perfect for the show because “Elaine is the kind of person who would not let that go, obviously.”

But for the love of god, if you do have the good fortune to run into Louis-Dreyfus while out in the real world, please just let her do her business in peace. 

You (yes, you) should follow JM on Twitter (if it still exists by the time you’re reading this).


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