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I was starting to nod off when the Fruit of the Loom commercial came on the other night, but the punch line woke me up.

It was for men's undershorts, and it made reference to "your boys" - by which it did not mean offspring, but rather a portion of the male anatomy for which every last synonym I can think of is either too clinical, too crass or too cute.Beyond its blithe bad taste, what interested me about this spot was its appropriation of a popular Seinfeldism - or, more specifically, a Kramerism - of recent years.

And that, inevitably, got me to thinking about the dozens of taboos "Seinfeld" has tweaked in its six years on the air.

The most famous is the "master of your domain" episode of some years ago, which, if there were a Nobel Prize for Euphemism, would have won handily.

Other unmentionables mentioned over the years - again, with masterful indirection - have been birth control, bodily fluids, the tendency to mistake "thin, neat, single" straight males for gay ones, the unfortunate side-effect of a cold swim on an adult male, and the one about Elaine and the horn player.

Forgive me for not elaborating on that last one, except to say it was clinical, crass and drop-dead funny.

Speaking of drop-dead, people are still arguing about last month's unceremonious kiss-off to poor old Susan, late fiancee of the reluctant George. According to Entertainment Weekly, Sherwin Nuland, the physician-author of "How We Die," was "tremendously upset" by it, but Heidi Swedberg, the actress who played Susan, thought it was cool.

Me? I'm with Swedberg. Death is the biggest taboo of them all, and having George wriggle out of matrimony through this tragic yet undeniably convenient loophole made outrageous comic sense.

It also served as a reminder that some of "Seinfeld's" most daring forays have gone beyond the locker room and into the sophisticated arena of social satire. From the culture clash of boomers and their parents (early-bird dinners, anyone?) to the uncritical awe that greeted "Schindler's List" (which, after all, was a movie about the Holocaust, not the Holocaust itself), from the bewildered awkwardness we feel around friends who have cancer to the peerless pomposities of the J. Peterman catalog, the show's writers know their way around the Zeitgeist the way Jerry knows the menu at that coffee shop.

Watching a repeat of the pilot episode in syndication last week, I thought of the yearly cry from one quarter or another that "Seinfeld" isn't what it used to be. In fact, it isn't. It's better.

That first half-hour dealt with Jerry's inability to read the courting signals of a potential girlfriend. It was clever enough - far funnier, in fact, than an average episode of "Ellen" or "The Single Guy" - but it was simple stuff compared to the endlessly inventive themes of recent years: soup Nazis, George Steinbrenner's Yankees, talking at the movies, cheating at the dry cleaner's, hogging the disabled-only space in the parking garage.

And, of course, that ineffable moment when you learn you've accidentally poisoned somebody you didn't want to marry anyway. You probably won't see it in a commercial, but you never know.

(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service.)