‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’: Getting rid of Loretta

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Question: What sort of man would try to leave his girlfriend before she receives news of a cancer diagnosis? Answer: Larry David.

In the Season 7 opener of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” Larry attempted to do just that, dashing across town in a literal drag race with a doctor who had some life-changing news for Larry’s girlfriend, Loretta Black (Vivica A. Fox).

It was a fittingly selfish moment for Larry, one that was as hysterical as it was self-absorbed. His fear is that, if Loretta does have cancer, it will be even harder to break up with her, as only an inhuman monster would dump someone stricken with a major illness.


But, ahem, he’s not above dumping Loretta seconds before she receives such a diagnosis. His rationale: As bad as things are now (having to make her soup and keep the house at a balmy 82 degrees), they’ll only be worse if she has cancer.

But first, there was the dinner party from hell.

During the night, hosted by Jeff (Jeff Garlin) and Susie (Susie Essman), Jeff’s unexpected dalliance with Bam Bam (Catherine O’Hara), the mentally ill sister of Bob Einstein’s Marty Funkhouser, came to light over appetizers.

Also in attendance was Loretta’s doctor, with whom Larry already had an earlier altercation when he took a lemonade soda out of Larry’s fridge without asking -- the move summoned up one of Larry’s trademark rants. Then there was Marty Funkhouser himself, who wasn’t originally invited to the dinner party but who wrangled an invitation after Larry let it slip that he was going.

Let’s just say the tension was about as sharp as Susie’s voice.

Not helping matters? The cartoonishly named Bam Bam, who continued flirting with Jeff across the table after their bedroom romp that afternoon, a tryst that Larry discovered after he hypocritically helped himself to some food from Marty’s fridge. Jeff and Bam Bam’s awkward flirting escalated gradually into a squirm-inducing moment where Jeff half-seductively licked the rim of his glass and furtively blew her kisses across the table. And then all hell broke loose when Bam Bam gleefully admitted that she and Jeff had been in bed together. Not unsurprisingly, Larry was forced to back up Jeff’s claims that nothing happened and that Bam Bam should be sent back to the loony bin.

Luckily, before things got even worse, Larry remembered that he had to pick up medication for Loretta and took off early, much to Susie’s consternation. But if he hadn’t, I’m pretty sure someone there would have ended up stabbing him with a steak knife.

But it’s not all bad for Larry. Following the disastrous dinner party, there was the shimmering hope of reconciliation with his charming ex-wife Cheryl (Cheryl Hines), whom Larry serendipitously bumped into at a restaurant, where she was still using his name to get a good table. Cheryl — very reluctantly — admitted that she does miss him. It was a bittersweet and uncharacteristically touching scene between the two.

Despite what we’ve seen Larry put Cheryl through the last six seasons, these two really do belong together and the scene between Hines and David played up their innate chemistry. But just as they were reconnecting, Larry received a call alerting him that the doctor was en route with Loretta’s diagnosis and he took off with the determination of a man hell bent on freedom.

Thus, the speeding car chase across town to reach Loretta before she could receive the news about her medical condition.

Too late. Loretta does have cancer and the prognosis isn’t good: with lots of help from Larry, who will have to completely alter his life to accommodate his sick girlfriend, Loretta could improve in, say, the next four years or so. That sound you hear? It’s the window for break-up slamming shut, along with the litany of side effects of Loretta’s condition: incontinence, unsightly hair loss, mood swings.

And did I already mention incontinence?

And yet, this is “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” No matter how dire the situation, Larry always manages to find a way of wriggling his way out of danger, though not always unscathed. Just how he’ll manage to extricate himself from Loretta now remains to be seen. But I’m sure that a man as devious, irrational and bristling as Larry David has more than a few tricks still up his sleeve.

-- Jace Lacob

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