Last night I couldn’t stream Netflix through the Xbox like I usually do because Microsoft’s servers were down. So instead my husband suggested we watch When Harry Met Sally, since I’d been talking about it being a good holiday movie while at a certain wedding a few weeks ago.
While watching it, I realized that this movie, more than any other, is responsible for many of my early ideas of what adulthood was going to be like. It came out in 1989, so I’m imagining it reached the free cable preview weekends (my only real source for movies at the time) a few years after that, and I remember watching it more than once in high school. And while I spent lots of time consuming every Robin Hood movie I could get my hands on, watching Star Wars Episode IV whenever I got sick, and sighing with my best friend over Dirty Dancing, When Harry Met Sally struck me as being more like what real life was actually going to be.
Here is what it taught me:
1. Everyone you know will have a professional sounding job: attorney, journalist, political consultant (I had to ask my husband last night what that actually meant). These jobs will cause them no angst whatsoever and were obviously easy for them to both choose and succeed at.
2.However, everyone will actually spend most of their time and energy dealing with their crazy love lives, having lunch with their girlfriends, and hogging the batting cages from small boys. Also going to baseball games, reading self-help books, and attending many parties.
3. On New Year’s Eve, everyone goes to posh parties at big venues with lots of people they don’t know. Otherwise it doesn’t count.
4. People will often host small and slightly awkward parties at their apartments, where everyone divides up into two teams and plays Pictionary. And they always have an easel set up with a really big pad of paper to make it more awesome. (WHY has this not happened to me in adulthood? WHY?)
5. Never let a friend set you up because blind dates always end badly.
6. Adults are not afraid to do zany and embarrassing things, like sing Oklahoma! at the Sharper Image or have public fake orgasms. (This is particularly true of theater people, but alas, the movie neglected to educate me on that fact.)
7. It is okay to toss barely-used Kleenex around the room when you are very upset.
8. Men might be idiots about love sometimes, but in the end they will come to their senses and sweep you off your feet with an appropriate grand gesture and speech combo. (This is what most romantic comedies teach us, but I’ve found real life to be a vast disappointment in comparison, since most people I know do not seem to have the inclination to actually plan and execute grand gestures.)
9. A man who is married will never leave his wife for you. (Thanks to Carrie Fisher for the running gag teaching this valuable life lesson.)
10. When you move in with somebody, be on your guard for their equivalent to the Roy Rogers wheel wagon coffee table, and make sure you’ve stipulated that it’s not going to be part of the move ahead of time, thus avoiding an embarrassing fight in front of all your friends who are helping you.
What movie most shaped your ideas about what being an adult was going to be like?