27 June 2012

Those Are Very Powerful Words

In August 2006 I asked my mom to go buy Sleepless in Seattle for me to watch while I recovered from my wisdom teeth surgery. She got mixed up at the store and bought You've Got Mail  instead. I'd already seen You've Got Mail, Abby and Kari used to quote it all the time ("Or his elbows were in splints so he couldn't really dial"), and I though Sleepless would be appropriate since I'd watched An Affair to Remember in the hospital after back surgery.

Boy howdy, I'm glad she made that mistake.

I make more life comparisons to You've Got Mail than any other movie or book I know. Just last week, I was discussing relationships with a friend and Dave Chappelle came to mind:
"I always take a relationship to the next level. And if that works then I take it to the next level after that. Until I finally reach that level where it becomes absolutely necessary for me to leave."

That's solid relationship advice, right there.

Sometimes, people ask questions that have answers pulled right out of the script:
"Are you online?"
"As far as I'm concerned, the internet is just another way of being rejected by women."

And when I can't make decisions, or when I walk into a Starbucks, I remember that people who don't know what the hell they're doing or who on earth they are can, for only $2.95, buy not just a cup of coffee, but a defining sense of self:
"Tall! Decaf! Cappuccino!"

Most people relate to one character in a story, but I really think there's a little piece of everyone in me.

Frank loves his typewriter. Irrationally. He makes up crazy theories. (The whole idea of the VCR is that it makes it possible for you to tape what's on television when you leave the house. The whole point of leaving the house is so that you miss what's on television.) And he gets caught up in ideas that distract him from reality. (You *snap* are a lone reed. You are a lone . . . reed . . . standing tall, waving proudly . . . in the corrupt sands . . . of commerce. *zing*)

Christina is a bit of a pessimist sometimes. She also seems to be easily stressed out, and might make things into much bigger deals than they actually are. (But what if we have to fold? I'm never going to find another part time job and I won't be able to pay my rent, and then I'm going to have to move. To Brooklyn.) But she helps Kathleen consider all sides of a problem. (Remember when you thought Frank might be the Unabomber?)

George is devoted to his job: he loves the books. (The illustrations are hand tipped . . . That's why they're worth so much.) And he wants everyone else to love them as much as he does. (George is great, he's revolutionizing the place. You can't work in his department unless you have a PhD in children's literature.)

Birdie takes care of everyone. She is sympathetic and encouraging even when she can't solve the problem. (Cecilia, what should we do? . . . She says she has no idea. But she thinks the window display is lovely.) She is a romantic, yet pragmatic about her life all at the same time. (Now I suppose you want me to tell you who I fell madly in love with. But I'm not going to tell you. It wasn't meant to be. . . . He ran Spain. The country, he ran it. That was his job. And then he died. Just as well. Milk, or lemon?)

Joe can be sarcastic and dry. (We are the price club. Only instead of selling you a ten gallon vat of olive oil that can't even fit under your kitchen sink, we sell cheap books. Me, a spy.) But he genuinely cares about people and owns up to his mistakes. (I cannot tell you what happened last night. But from the bottom of my heart, I beg you to forgive me for what happened. . . . I'm still here. Talk to me.)

Kathleen loves the people in her life. She's not a fighter by nature, but she'll fight for what matters. (Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee!) She knows what's important, but she also wonders if she can do something more. (Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life. Well, valuable, but small. And sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven't been brave? So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn't it be the other way around?)

You've Got Mail teaches me that people are always saying change is a good thing. But what they're really saying is that something you didn't want to happen at all has happened. It teaches me that sometimes you have to go to the mattresses. It teaches me to say Happy Thanksgiving back. It teaches me that when I know the exact thing I want to say in the exact moment I want to say it, I will feel terrible. Because no matter what anyone does to me, that is no excuse for my behavior. It teaches me that when you read a book as a child it becomes part of your identity in a way no other reading does. It teaches me that the brave thing to do is daring to imagine that you could have a different life.

Most romantic comedies are more likely to talk about nothing than something. But I just want to say that all this nothing has meant more to me than so many somethings.

So, thanks.

Nora Ephron, you will be missed.


  1. I love this movie as well, and refer to quotes from it regularly. And I have never seen When Harry met Sally, but I guess I need to because there has been a lot of talk about it with the passing of Nora. But I doubt it could beat Joe Fox and daisies.

  2. This is one of my top 5 favorite movies of all time, one summer between semesters I worked the night shift at Walmart and I watched this movie every night off I had to keep me on my crazy sleep schedule. I love it. I want to be the story book lady reading Roald Dahl books to kids. I want daisies when I'm sick. I want eucalyptus candles. I love it.

  3. Oh I just love this post. I actually watched You've Got Mail when I was in Denver, because I saw my parents had it in Blu-Ray and had to watch it. Obviously.

    You worded everything perfectly. I love it.

    PS I think we were each reading each other's posts at the exact same time, because I just checked my email and saw that you commented on my book post. Way to go with the book sale, by the way. Score.

  4. Love that we both blogged about this movie yesterday. Also love that I watched it on Tuesday and then again with the commentary yesterday. I don't think that's even healthy. Your character descriptions are wonderful. And you are totally a mixture of all of them. Love it.

  5. This is a really good movie. A lot better than Sleepless in Seattle. It has so many good quotes.

  6. One of the better blog posts I've ever read. Love! Such a great movie, so many good quotes. WAY better than Sleepless in Seattle.

  7. Yes. Love the movie. Love your post.