“These Pretzels are making me thirsty.” – Pretty much everyone for a total of 10 times
Even though The Alternate Side is unquestionably most famous for that oft repeated line from a non-existent Woody Allen movie, there are several other gems scattered throughout the 22 minutes in this episode, though they are sadly left out when most people recall The Alternate Side. So powerful in our collective minds are those 6 words -these pretzels are making me thirsty- tattooed to the episode that we disconnect completely the other subplots from it.
Rewatching these early seasons I am finding that despite the various plots of an episode being linked rather cohesively, and I can recall each one individually from my past viewings, I am often surprised when two of them are part of the same episode. There’s that “oh, yeah” moment when I link them together as I’m watching it. In The Alternate Side it’s the scene at the rental car agency. I love quoting –sometimes misquoting- Jerry’s rant from that scene in my daily life but it never crosses my mind that it’s from the same episode as “these pretzels are making me thirsty.”
The episode opens with Jerry and George walking into the apartment. Kramer enters a minute later. Jerry’s car has just been stolen. Jerry’s going to call the car phone company to cancel his service. “Maybe you should call your car phone,” George jokingly says. But Jerry does call the car phone and the car thief (voiced by Larry David) picks up.
“Hello, is this 555-8383?”
“I have no idea.”
“Can I ask you a question?”
“Did you steal my car?”
“Yes, I did.”
Jerry learns that the thief didn’t break in to it, the keys were in it. Kramer asks for the receiver. With a rather irritated look in his eye, Jerry hands it to him. Kramer asks the thief if there is a pair of brown gloves in the glove compartment (there is) and if the thief can mail it to him.
George learns about Sid, a rather straight talking, salty older black gentleman who moves the cars on Jerry’s street from one side to the other so they don’t get ticketed. I guess there are no garages near by. George is still out of work and is a little envious of someone who can make so much for so little work. Sid comes by to apologize and informs Jerry that he’ll be out of town for a week. George leaps at the opportunity to take over for him for the week. We also learn here that Woody Allen is filming on the block and that Kramer is an extra.
Jerry takes Elaine to get a rental car. He has a reservation, but, of course, they don’t have a car and Jerry gets into it with the rental agent. “I don’t understand, I made a reservation. Do you have my reservation?
“Yes, we do. Unfortunately we ran out of cars.”
“But the reservation keeps the car here. That’s why you have the reservation.”
“I know why we have reservations.”
“I don’t think you do. If you did, I’d have a car. See, you know how to take the reservation. You just don’t know how to hold the reservation. And really, that’s the most important part of the reservation: the hold. Anybody can just take them,” Jerry says, wildly grabbing invisible reservations out of thin air.
Elaine fleshes out her boyfriend situation with Owen, a 66 year old writer, to Jerry while in line at the rental agency, and wonders if he is too old. “If you enjoy being with him, that’s what’s important,” Jerry reassures her.
“I love being with him…” Elaine rationalizes, mostly to herself. “I mean, I like being with him… It’s okay being with him…” The scene jump cuts to Jerry’s apartment. “I just don’t enjoy being with him.”
Elaine wants to know if she can get out of breaking up with Owen face to face if she only went out with him 7 times. Jerry says it should be face to face unless there was no sex to which Elaine simply sighs, “Hmm…”
George, meanwhile, is in over his head with the car parking and Kramer’s walk on part in the movie is now a speaking role after he took a pratfall in his scene which made Woody Allen laugh. Everyone else, George especially, is in disbelief. Kramer plays out his scene; he turns to Woody Allen and speaks the most famous lines from a non-existent Woody Allen film, “These pretzels are making me thirsty.” The other three coach Kramer on how he should say the line, each taking a different approach to it. Kramer decides that none of them would make good actors.
Later on, Elaine brings an unconscious Owen to the apartment. Elaine wasn’t able to break up with him before he suffered a stroke. Jerry calls an ambulance and debate what they should do to Owen to help him. Inexplicably, they settle on force feeding him a cookie. As the sirens approach they’re interrupted by screeching tires and a crashing of metal on glass.
The paramedics eventually reach the apartment after the crash. Jerry learns from one of them that the car that hit them was his rental car, driven by George.
News of Owen’s stroke is big enough that it makes the newspaper. Also making the newspaper article; George’s accident possibly making Owen’s stroke worse and causing delays in Woody Allen’s production leading Allen to “wonder if his days of filming in New York were over.”
Jerry returns to the Rental agency only to learn that the insurance doesn’t cover the accident because he wasn’t driving the car and the insurance doesn’t cover “other drivers.” “Other drivers? You’re whole business is based on other drivers.” Jerry doesn’t win this argument leading him to exclaim, “These pretzels are making me thirsty!”
Elaine breaks up with Owen while spoon feeding him his lunch like a baby. The awkwardness of breaking up with a stroke victim leads Elaine to stammer, “These pretzels are making me thirsty.”
Kramer loses his part in the Woody Allen movie the same way he got it; by being Kramer.