If only life was like a Nora Ephron movie.
There’s that scene near the end of You’ve Got Mail – Tom Hanks is walking Meg Ryan back to her beautiful brownstone apartment in New York City (which, by the way, no owner of a failed independent bookshop could afford…but who cares? Every heroine of a rom-com should have a beautiful brownstone apartment). The sun is shining and there’s no crap on the sidewalk. And he looks at her and says:
Joe Fox: You know, sometimes I wonder…
Kathleen Kelly: What?
Joe Fox: Well…If I hadn’t been Fox Books, and you hadn’t been The Shop Around the Corner, and you and I had just, well, met…
Kathleen Kelly: I know.
Joe Fox: Yeah. I would have asked for your number, and I wouldn’t have been able to wait twenty-four hours before calling you and saying, “Hey, how about…oh, how about some coffee, or, you know, drinks or a movie…for as long as we both shall live?”
Kathleen Kelly: Joe…
Joe Fox: And you and I would never have been at war. And the only thing we’d fight about was what video to rent on a Saturday night.
Kathleen Kelly: Well who fights about that?
Joe Fox: Well, some people. Not us.
Kathleen Kelly: We would never.
Joe Fox: If only.
We’ve all seen You’ve Got Mail, and When Harry Met Sally…, and Sleepless in Seattle, a hundred times, and the common thread ain’t Meg Ryan. It’s writer and producer Nora Ephron, who has managed to create a string of romantic comedies with an impossibly perfect balance of intellect, probability, whimsy, and sophistication. Somehow, she has written films (a list that also includes All I Wanna Do and Julie & Julia) that provide inexhaustible viewing pleasure to her audiences. It doesn’t matter that Sally Albright is way too attractive for Harry Burns or that its unlikely that any man could say anything so eloquent and unscripted on a national radio station while mourning his wife. These movies don’t make you squirm at how cheesy they are, or inspire hopelessness for your own lackluster love life. They just make you say, “I’ll have what she’s having,” and pray that your romantic experiences are even remotely that interesting.
Face it. Life would be a lot better if it were a Nora Ephron film. The warring protagonists, or the protagonists inconveniently living on opposite coasts, would always engage in numerous exchanges of intelligent, witty banter. There would always be the funny sidekicks that provide encouragement and comedic relief. Clothes that are so unflattering that they somehow actually do flatter our positively average bods (read: nineties garb) would be socially acceptable, and no one would have to worry about whether their underwear lines were visible, because who would ever wear tight pants if you didn’t have to? At some point, adorable, precocious children would be involved. There’d be a soundtrack of only Harry Connick, Jr. covers, and whenever someone received a handwritten note (the AOL modem has already become obsolete and, besides, we’ll have regressed back to snail mail), birds will flock out of a nearby tree and we will smile despite ourselves as we tear open the envelope. Anytime anyone said anything, everyone would stop what they were doing and say, Darn, I wish I could have come up with something that perfect to say. And at the end, the guy would deliver a long-winded, adorably nerdy speech that would always guarantee that he’d win the day…and the girl.
Sigh. If only.