MOTW: Five Life Lessons Taken from "When Harry Met Sally"

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When Harry Met Sally… is a 1989 American romantic comedy film written by Nora Ephron and directed by Rob Reiner. It stars Billy Crystal as Harry and Meg Ryan as Sally. The story follows the title characters from the time they meet just before sharing a cross-country drive, through twelve years or so of chance encounters in New York City. The film raises the question "Can men and women ever just be friends?"
Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures
January 3rd, 2014

MOTW: Five Life Lessons Taken from "When Harry Met Sally"

The classic romantic comedy "When Harry Met Sally" made audiences love Billy Crystal and was the catalyst for Meg Ryan's long and illustrious career as the queen of the romantic comedy. It's also a really funny and often touching film about friendship and love. As if all that wasn't enough, screenwriter Nora Ephron imparted lots of wisdom into the sometimes rapid-fire dialogue. Here are five life lessons everyone can learn from the film.

Everyone Should Just Say Exactly What They Want

When Harry (Crystal) and Sally (Ryan) first meet, it's because they are embarking on a long road trip together. When they first stop for food, Harry quickly orders his food by the number on the menu, but Sally is much more discerning. She has a complicated order that includes dressing on the side and a dessert order that changes depending on whether the pie is heated or not. Harry looks like he wants to wring her neck for complicating lunch, but it's one of her quirks, and she isn't afraid to show it. Eventually, he comes to love her long meal orders and even lists them among the reasons why he loves her when he is trying to convince her that they belong together. The lesson is that people should not be afraid to say what they want for lunch, much less what they want from life.

Never Take Anyone to the Airport at the Beginning of a Relationship

Taking a person to the airport so that they don't have to park and pay those exorbitant airport fees is something that should not be done lightly, according to Harry. It's a sign that a relationship is entering a new phase, and it could be a point of contention later on. According to Harry, who thinks he is an expert in the minutiae of male-female interactions, anyone who takes a new significant other to the airport is obligated to continue doing so for the entire length of the relationship. If the airport rides suddenly stop, the grousing will begin, which can lead to much bigger fights. The lesson is to just avoid these airport rides early on.

It's Perfectly Fine to Be Friends First

Harry insists that men and women can't just be friends because they will always have some kind of romantic or sensual tension between them. However, after meeting up with Sally again, he unexpectedly embarks on a decade-long friendship with her that is completely platonic. It isn't until years later that he realizes that they belong together, but he never would have realized how much he loved her if he hadn't spent the previous decade being her friend. The lesson is that men and women can indeed be friends and that friendship doesn't always have to lead to anything romantic.

Expect Life to Throw a Curve Ball, Especially When It Comes to Love

The film includes a montage of older couples who have been married for decades telling the stories of how they met. A recurring theme is that none of them were looking for love when they found their future spouses. One man said that he met his wife in an elevator and rode up nine extra floors just so that he could continue to talk to her. Another said that he met his wife at a funeral, which isn't exactly a romantic setting. Nevertheless, after going out for a cup of coffee after the funeral, they were married a month later. The lesson is that nobody knows when love will hit, and it can happen in the most unexpected places, so everyone should just take a swing when that inevitable curve ball comes along.

Wagon-Wheel Coffee Tables Are the Worst

Bachelors aren't exactly known for their great sense of home décor, but some pieces of furniture are far worse than others. When a couple is moving in together like Marie (Carrie Fisher) and Jess (Bruno Kirby), they have two sets of everything, including sofas and coffee tables. They have to find a way to merge their stuff, which means someone's furniture is going to get donated or put in storage while the other person's gets to stay. When Marie sees Jess's wagon-wheel coffee table, she is aghast at just how ugly it is. A small argument ensues over a coffee table, which in the grand scheme of things is silly. The lesson is that wagon-wheel coffee tables really are the worst, so don't fight over them.