I Saved Larry David’s Life
It was around three-fifty on a Friday afternoon when I got the call from Larry David, his voice weak and on the edge of desperation, “Uh…John…it’s Larry…I have problem….”
“What kind of problem, LD?” I shot back while muting my TV.
“Uh…I’m stuck upside down. “
Back in the early eighties someone proliferated the idea that hanging upside down for 15 minutes or more a day would reverse the effects of gravity, straighten your spine, flatten your wrinkles, deliver blood to organs that were normally left to scrape by on leftovers, and add years to your upright life.
Somehow, some way, the abnormally skeptical, negativity enriched, perennial angry, Larry David fell prey to this philosophy. LD bought a doorway bar and gravity boots, convinced that hanging upside down would give him the gift of health, or the least it would temporarily contain his hypochondria.
On that day LD could not pull himself up and was stuck hanging upside down like a balding bat. Luckily he kept the phone on the floor where he could reach it. “I can’t pull myself up! You have to come over now. The blood is rushing to my head. I’m going to die!” For most people those words are said under extreme duress, to Larry it’s almost a mantra, but I could tell by the fear saturating his plea that the threat was more real than imagined.
I lived only a few miles from Larry, so normally to travel that short a distance would take no more than ten minutes. Except it was Friday near rush hour in L.A. and LD lived in the hills above Laurel Canyon, where the ever-twisting roads doubled back on themselves like an octopus’s legs in a whirlpool. I raced up and down streets while drivers pounded their horns when I stopped to look at street signs or make sudden U-turns. The thoughts of Larry hanging upside down alive weren’t pretty, but just a notion of a dead LD was horrifying. How could I possibly explain this to the police without bursting out laughing—never mind trying to hold a straight face to Larry’s brother, Ken, or not join in when other comics do Larry David death jokes.
Somehow I ended up on Larry’s road and screeched to a stop in front of his house. I slipped on something on the sidewalk shooting up his front stairs and falling into his front door, almost knocking myself unconscious. For a few seconds I was disoriented and had forgotten where I was and why I had come. Then I saw LD, swaying gently, blood drained into his face, his body lifeless I shook lose from my trance when he started breathing, a quick stunted breath, measuring the air, then almost rejecting it entirely. Something was wrong. I thought he was about to die for good, when the power of his voice shook me loose from my dread and he yelled from the bottom of his lungs. “Get out and wipe your damn feet. You stepped in dog shit?” It was then that I realized Larry would survive, his temper intact, and I wouldn’t receive a thank you for saving his life. In other words, he was himself again.