The Friday after Nora Ephron died, I made a big dinner and we sat down to watch when Harry Met Sally. Megan was living with us at the time, so the “we” was a giddy Rach, a tired but always amenable Megan (at least pretending she didn’t mind that we were commandeering her bed for an evening showing on what was for her a school night) and a very begrudging Dave.
He always pretends like he’d rather not watch it, like he can’t be parted from his ESPN or medical journal articles (nerd) for a movie like that. But, like everyone, he is eventually charmed by that movie. I (finally breaking a girl stereotype for once in my life) don’t really like romantic comedies…but I have a deep love for that movie.
I love how real and neurotic the characters are. I love the scenes of the city dressed up for the four seasons. I love the old married couples married through it all. I love that, out of nowhere, “Surrey With The Fringe On Top” will pop into my head on a random morning and I’ll picture Sally at the karaoke machine saying “it’s my voice isn’t it?” and I’ll laugh out loud. If you think the fake orgasm is the best scene in that movie, you should watch it again. The littlest moments are the best.
When I was in Connecticut a few weeks ago, I scanned my parents’ bookshelves, lovingly alphabetized by my mother. I was looking for Heartburn but found an old copy of Crazy Salad instead, a hardcover version that had long since lost its formal cover. On the first page, there was a note scrawled in blue pen and dated 1975: “Merry Christmas and Love this day and thru the year – Karen.” “Who’s Karen? ” I asked my mother. “You don’t even celebrate Christmas?” “I think I got it at a used bookstore,” she said.
I turned the page and, like at least two women before me, and began to read.
Last night Megan and I went to see an outdoor screening of You’ve Got Mail, with a little tribute to Nora Ephron at the beginning. It seemed to me to be the exact opposite of all those nutty outdoor Summer in NYC movies, though honestly, I’ve never made it to one, despite many efforts and scrawled notes on my Filofax. There was plenty of seating and a banquet of fancy, free snacks I never would have splurged for on my own and it was super easy to find my coworker and her friends in the little crowd. We passed bags of pistachios and seasoned almonds back and forth among us and giggled and teared up at all the right parts. I’ve never been the biggest You’ve Got Mail fan, to be honest (again, breaking new ground with my general aversion to romantic comedies) but I found myself totally enthralled. It might have been the fact that we were watching all these Upper West Side scenes play out from a quaint little courtyard on the very same Upper West Side, it may have been that the night wasn’t too hot but contained a certain electricity, a certain threat of rain that kept things lively, it might have been the beer I’d downed at the happy hour I was at just before. Or it might have just been that I had never really sat down and listened to those lines, noticed how smart and funny and lyrical and real they are. It’s not really just a romantic comedy, after all. It’s a Nora Ephron.