The Phone Message

I’ve just finished watching a Seinfeld episode from 1991, called The Phone Message. George leaves a particularly nasty and hysterical series of messages on a date’s answering machine. He immediately regrets doing it and is devastated to think she’ll never call him again. It turns out, she’s been away for four days and hasn’t got the messages. So George makes elaborate plans to switch the tape in the machine before she gets home, which involve concocting a story to get into the girl’s apartment on her return, with Seinfeld, switch the tapes while she’s not looking, and exit the building.

But this whole thing had me confused. What is a tape? And what is an answering machine? I have some vague memory of these things. Indeed, in Ireland in the 1980’s , anybody with an answering machine was seriously posh. I mean, they were loaded. This whole plot just seemed so outdated and archaic. Yet it is only 1991!

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