“When Harry met Sally” is one of my favorite romantic comedies for many reasons. As a Woody Allen geek, I enjoy the tribute to “Annie Hall”; a Nora Ephron fan, I like the witty conversations about the war of the sexes; a hopeless romantic, I couldn’t get enough of Harry and Sally’s final union after twelve years of friendship. It is a perfect movie about fate, about how, with all the bumps and jumps, life still keeps two close together.
Maybe I had been too naive the whole time.
Last week, I watched an episode of “How I Met Your Mother”. In this valentine’s special, Lily and Marshall had a very interesting theory about Dobler vs Dahmer. Lyold Dobler was the handsome John Cusack in the 80s rom-com “Say Anything” who famously held a radio recorder in the middle of the road and won Ione Skye’s heart. Jeffrey Dahmer was a serial killer and sex offender who was so obsessed with his love interests that he killed them when things didn’t work out. The message behind this episode is very simple: the fine line between love and insanity depends on the efforts one puts to impress the other. The right amount can turn an encounter into serendipity while the wrong one into a nightmare. For example, Lily’s breaking the radio and knocking on every door makes Marshall believe in fate, but Jeannette’s stalking and setting fire to the entire building brings Ted nothing but creepiness. In other words, luck in a relationship is just the synonym of endeavor.
Wait a minute, does that mean Nora Ephron lied? Harry and Sally were not meant to be, but made to be?
I decided to rewatch the movie that had been my bible for perfect romantic relationships. This time I finally got the message Ephron was trying to convey— love doesn’t just happen, it needs patience and continuous input. Harry and Sally were never just friends, not when Harry intoxicated himself with the smell of Sally’s hair, not when Harry’s plead for not talking about the fact they had sex infuriated Sally, and certainly not when seven minutes into the movie, Harry already found Sally beautiful and meticulous. If it were not for both parties’ care and love for each other, Harry and Sally probably were just flings in each other’s little black book or acquaintances that passed by each other’s individual path.
Nevertheless relationship doesn’t work with one side’s unreciprocated input. Two days ago, a good friend of mine called me for advice on a guy she has a crush on. After hearing about her frustrated efforts to hang out with him and how the guy still hasn’t picked up on anything, I thought of the missing piece in my argument about luck. Yes, an ideal relationship needs as much hard work as it gets, but the element of luck does roll in when it comes to the right person to work hard on. For every ‘high maintenance’ girl like Sally Albright, the solution to love is not twelve New Year’s Eves; it is a ‘too clueless to know his own heart’ Harry Burns. That, by all means, is pure luck!