Pepper on my Paprikash

One of those wonderful moments today. I say wonderful; probably only wonderful for a Film Geek like me who has rethought her Uber Film list. It is a special feeling to find your current Number One usurped by an old favourite. An old reliable that’s plodded along quite nicely for years in my top ten has suddenly nabbed the top spot, previously filled at various points by the following films: Waterloo Bridge, Back to the Future, Beauty and the Beast and Gone With the Wind. But out of nowhere, When Harry Met Sally has sped past these pretenders and crowned itself as Emily’s New Favourite Movie.

I have seen When Harry Met Sally a thousand times, just as everybody else has. Like John Hannah says of The Beatles in Sliding Doors – you learn the lines from this film in the womb, they are so iconic. I was three when it came out, but the same thing sort of applies. For various reasons I felt it deserved a rewatch today ~ I am procrastinating horribly, as leaving my lovely flat very soon and must pack. Am currently surrounded by boxes filled with books (how do I have so many? Four boxes packed so far) ~ but I digress.  I find myself quoting lines from this movie to help friends through life’s problems.You are a bloke who spoiled his girlfriend rotten at the beginning of the relationship but now want to cool it off?

“That’s why I have never taken anyone to the airport at the beginning of a relationship. Because eventually things move on and you don’t take someone to the airport and I never wanted anyone to say to me, How come you never take me to the airport anymore?”

You have a friend who is seeing someone in a relationship?

“I don’t think he’s ever going to leave her.” “Nobody thinks he’s ever going to leave her.” “You’re right, you’re right, I know you’re right.”

You’re scared you’re going to die alone?

“I’M GOING TO BE FORTY.” “When?” “SOMEDAY.” “In eight years.” “But it’s there. It’s just sitting there, like some big dead end. And it’s not the same for men. Charlie Chaplin had kids when he was 73.” “Yeah, but he was too old to pick them up”

You see someone who is having an orgasm in a deli?

“I’ll have what she’s having.”

I think it is unnecessary to explain the story, but I shall quickly brush over. Harry Burns (Billy Crystal) and Sally Albright (Meg Ryan) meet as university graduates and immediately rub each other up the wrong way. Years pass and they frequently bump into each other and a close friendship forms, despite Harry’s previous insistence that men and women could never be friends because sex always get in the way. These two seem to buck that trend. For a while, at least…

I shall not reveal what happens, just in case you haven’t seen it. But you must see it. It is such a wonderful film and sparks so many conversations. Can men and women just be friends? I, for one, have many male friends. And I love them all. But not in that way. I just love male company. Sex doesn’t always have to get in the way. But what if you do fall for a friend? And they fall for you too? Is this the ideal relationship? Yes perhaps, in theory. TV in particular is littered with these couples: Nick and Jess, Daisy and Tim, Ross and Rachel, Ted and Robin. But ultimately, if it goes wrong – you run the risk of losing a friend. And that is a little heartbreaking.

When the friend that you fall for is just that – your friend – it is very easy. They do not ask anything from you, they understand your foibles and can deal with them. I think this is perhaps why people fall for their friends. They seem like a lovely uncomplicated option, as opposed to partners who ask for your time, for commitment and honesty. Friends don’t tend to push that. Meh, you are what you are and I like you that way. But this is the thing. When a friend crosses over into a potential partner (and I have seen this happen so many times) it will become complicated. When a friendship has turned into something else, those people have every right to ask for your time, commitment and honesty. As trying as it is when you have a friend who takes days to answer messages, cancels plans and is somewhat vague – and believe me, I have many male friends like this, it does seem to be more of a male affliction than a female one – it suddenly starts to matter a lot more when that person becomes your partner because you need to know what the ecky thump is going on. And suddenly it’s not easy anymore. Suddenly you don’t look so uncomplicated, because you’re asking for things just as a girlfriend would. You’re not just the friend who pitches up for beers every few weeks, has a laugh and lets it pass if a few messages go unanswered. And suddenly it seems that you’re not so attractive.

There was a lovely moment on New Girl‘s last episode. Jess loves her birthday and is hoping her boyfriend (previously friend) Nick has planned something exciting for her day. He hasn’t (he has organised a surprise party, but not until 7. He was hoping to sleep until then). Jess is unaware of this and is baffled when his exciting plans for her day involve her getting a diabetes test and picking up rocks in the park. She affirms that she never wants to be the type of girlfriend who demands something of her man, or is seen as high maintenance. As long as he’s tried, that’s all she cares about. But as the day goes on and she is more and more disappointed by his lack of preparation, she tells him that he’s ‘doing great’ then promptly runs off for a little cry. Women who get together with their male friends (and I’m sure it works similarly the other way round or in same sex relationships) are constantly trying to tread the line between being uncomplicated, cool and breezy (ie: the women that these men fall in love with) and not feeling as though they’re doing so at the expense of their own self respect. Or at the risk of feeling walked over. We cannot always just be ‘cool with it’ if we feel we are not being treated well. We have heard many of our male friends moan about girls in the past – too needy, too moody, too angry and we are terrified of being thought of that way. But at what point is enough enough? At what point do we say “er, actually – I do ask for your honesty, your time and commitment” without the fear of being dumped? I think the friend/relationships that work are the ones that get past that point. That transcend from asking for nothing to mutual respect.

Friends falling in love should be the best thing in the world. But it is important to remember to treat that person with the same level of respect as you would do with anyone else you enter into a relationship with; a woman you met at a bar, a man you bumped into in a museum. Crossing the line from one thing to another is very difficult and requires care. But with honesty and communication it can be done. And to prove it, I leave you with this speech from the film that inspired this blog.

“I love that you get cold when it’s 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you’re looking at me like I’m nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it’s not because I’m lonely, and it’s not because it’s New Year’s Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”

when harry

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