Saw YOU’VE GOT MAIL today. God, I’m a sucker for Meg Ryan romantic comedies... And apparently when Nora Ephron directs them I’m completely helpless.... And if Tom Hanks happens to join the crew... well just kiss my ass goodnight, cause that’s all folks.
I went in to this one with my usual expectations for this sort of film. By the end of the journey, I needed to be absolutely certain that I would be willing to spend my life with Meg Ryan. Right? That’s the goal of the film for all guys watching. For women, it has to be that by the end of the flick you must be in love with Tom Hanks. If you aren’t... well then the movie didn’t work.
And hopefully I’ll continue to spend my life with Meg Ryan. At least once a year in a theater, and sporadically of tape here at home.
I believe I went on and on about how much I love Meg Ryan in a review about that love thingee with Matthew Broderick she did a whiles back. Well, everything stands.
Instead let’s take a look at this by the method of falling in love with her. In YOU’VE GOT MAIL, we are set up with the premise that Meg and Tom are star-crossed e-mail confidantes that don’t know one another. They don’t know each other’s names, occupation, any of that. Their relationship online takes place over a fairly and seemingly lengthy time period. And still they don’t learn of each other.
Yes. How do I know? Because I spent a good half of a year in love with a girl online. Now sure you can’t fling an email without finding a crush, can ya... Glen? Well, this was about 4 years ago. And well to really understand why I so warmly embraced this film of Internet love, well I’m gonna go into it, so if you don’t want to hear personal things of mine... go away. Go see the film, it’s lovely, but well it got me introspective, as most romantic films do, and I’m off on a tangent again.
I had just hopped online. I was even more pathetic back then. No self-esteem, well over 500 pounds (lost about 200 of that) and didn’t have any confidence. My life was going to hell and I decided to just curl up with my computer and die.
I had lost contact with a lot of my friends, Glen and I stayed in contact via telephone, and RoRo came by every now and again, but mainly... ‘I don’t feel like going out.’
I was surfing the net in those days in text base, still a habit of mine from time to time. Then one day I discovered IRC, the chatrooms of the Internet. Wow, people, conversations, all without leaving my bedroom. How comforting. How easing. It was the way to create a life, an identity, a shell to live in. So in I crawled. Snug fit, but I liked it.
For a long time I lived in a room called #lonely. It was a very popular room. Tons of regulars, often times my name was RODAN. I talked with a lot of people, made friends with folks like snaggletooth. My typing speed went up to around 80 to 90 words a minute. I loved it.
One night, at around 3am (cool standard time) a person entered the room named Selina Kyle. I smiled. I left the room and entered as Bruce Wayne. She was doing all these lines from BATMAN RETURNS, and really shooting down the other guys in the room. I began answering all her lines with the next line of dialogue from the film. This continued for about thirty minutes until I invited her to come out to waynemanor.
I left the room and created #waynemanor. I sat there for about 5 minutes wondering if she would catch it. If she would put it together. In she struts (cyberly speaking of course). She was amazed I knew the movie so well. We began chatting. Hours bled by, the sun was rising and still we talked.
The next night we talked again till the sun arose. She became Rina and I became Harry. We were both wounded animals. She had been run over by a guy she married. I by my own hopes and dreams. It was so... refreshing to just speak... type to someone. I began feeling a thrill, a jolt of excitement with every line of type. We shared dreams, hopes and loves in life.
It was so obvious that we were in love, you could just tell by the emoticons. They kept getting sillier. I remember my biggest problem as a typist at the time was the word “love” it kept getting typed as “lobe”. So as things progressed I kept typing “I lobe you” I never noticed it, and one time she asked about the phrase.
I was shocked that I ever did it, but I told her it meant a mental state of love, that until we met, until all the kinks of physicality were dozed, ‘lobing’ her was the only thing I was capable of.
I got a “ ;) “ Which was Rina’s way of winking at me. Things deepened. We were spending 12 to 17 hours a day typing to one another. I couldn’t imagine her cursor not moving. It unleashed the romantic in me. Before this ‘romance’ I had just been a dude on a date. I had been taught that ya had to be a Dude, and to not let the chick get to ya, by peers in High School. So that was that.
But here... well here I didn’t have my impersonations to fall back on, I couldn’t do a Chaplin rip off with rolls and forks. I was stuck with who I was. Who I really was. And I found I liked me. Then one day, I remember this quite clearly, she said she was going to give me a call.
Fear coarsed through me. T t t t t talk? Gosh, that’s a big step. It’s strange but I had a voice when I read her words. And it filled me. She had a face. She had a body, and it was all safe from the ravages of time in my mind. I liked that, I took solace in that. Then I heard her say, “you don’t want to talk?” Oh God....
You see, I had dated women before but this was different. I hadn’t put up any defenses, I was being me. For the 4 months we had been chatting I was telling her things I never told anyone else in my life. She got everything on me. And I on her. We had already physically described each other to one another. (boy that was tough for me. So tough that I decided that if I felt it hard to describe myself to someone, then I needed to do something about it, so I lost about 240 pounds)
I decided that it was time to talk. You see by this point when I looked at my computer screen I saw hearts with her name in each one. I had it bad.
I remember waiting for the call... terrified. What if she sounded like Fran Drescher? The phone rang and I picked up. There was a bit of silence followed by me muttering, “hh h hhu helllo?”
She said something, I forget what it was, but it began with “h...” because by that time I was in nirvana. Her voice was beautiful. We talked... for a very long time. The next day I called, and I kept calling, we’d talk each other to sleep, and wake each other up the next morning. She lived just 6 hours away, but that was too far for my vehicle.
We talked about meeting, the angels that would sing, the shaft of light that would illuminate the moment. We talked about the grandkids and the stories we’d tell about how we met in a place called lonely. She wore black latex and so did I. We finished each other’s sentences, completed each other’s thoughts. It was the most soulfully intense relationship based purely on fibre optics.
In the six month, I began to realize that while we were desperately in love, she needed someone, and my state in life wasn’t what it needed to be to be that someone. I then realized that she also loved, but didn’t really know it, her best friend Mac. So I told her to give him a chance. God that hurt. They got married, and I got this site going. Mac got the better deal I assure you.
It’s amazing how much emotion is filled into these little electronic zeroes and ones. I think a lot of people take stories like YOU’VE GOT MAIL, lightly. They laugh and giggle and think that love on the Internet is a very unlikely thing. That love is something that happens between two people that go out for coffee and movies, that have dates, that dress up for one another and brings gifts. That love occurs with a connection between the eyes, or the pheromones that dance between two lovers. But for me at least, here in my bedroom I learned a lot about love, and it was beautiful.
It was made of consonants and vowels, commas and periods. Blinking straight lines and a little man that said YOU’VE GOT MAIL. After Rina I decided that I would not allow myself to fall for another lady on line. It hurt terribly when we stopped writing one another. Half of me was gone. But the half that remained was strong, energized. I’d tasted a bit of life. I got off my buttocks and began to get back into the world.
About 3 months later when I had my accident that left me unable to use my legs... well, I knew I hadn’t lost a thing, because as long as I could type, as long as my screen worked and the computer turned on, I had all I needed to make a go at life. That’s when I started the site.
It’s been over 3 years since Rina and I were daily/nightly ‘lobers’. That relationship gave me the strength to become a better person. It made me desire love, it made me realize that all these other trappings in life were hollow without it. There’s a line in YOU’VE GOT MAIL, I believe it’s something along the lines of, “I’m in love with a dream.” Well, so am I. I’ve dated since then, had some wonderful relationships, but I tell you this, now I’m so open, so honest about where I come from, who I am, what I believe... that I can see when I’m not receiving the same.
There’s a fire in one’s eyes when they know what they want and who they are. I’ve also come to realize that love is allowed to be 6 hours away if need be. Or halfway round the world. But it’s always best beside you in bed the next morning. There is nothing quite like opening your eyes and seeing love staring right back. Maybe one day soon.
Did Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan do a good job of conveying the depth of emotion that these letters and experiences had for me. Yes. They talked to their screens, they pressed send, they did live chat, they scheduled meetings and did everything I did.
Before I finish this up let me go a bit into the film so you don’t feel completely cheated.
The best thing about the movie is the way it sets up conventional contrived obvious places for movement of the story, but then deftly avoids them. You all know what’ll happen at the end. It’s a Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan film, but it’s in the journey that they took to get there that I fell in love.
The audience I saw this with were all highly responsive to every word. With supporting cast members like Parker Posey and Steve Zahn, Edith Bunker and that ol reporter from Citizen Kane, not to mention Dabney Coleman... well there’s a buncha fun to be had here.
Dad and I began talking about films like IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT after the movie, and while that is an absolute classic... well it’ll be interesting to see if Ephron will always be considered popcorn, or if at some point down the road anyone takes these films seriously. With SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE and YOU’VE GOT MAIL...(and her writing on WHEN HARRY MET SALLY) well she certainly knows the buttons to push to set off a whole lot of people into a state of love.
It’s strange growing up with actors. Both Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks came about for me at the same time. I remember locking eyes on Meg as Maggie in ARMED AND DANGEROUS, and thinking Hanks was cool in SPLASH, I was a big John Candy fan. It’s been nearly 15 years since then... God that’s weird. They’ve both come a long long way, it’ll be interesting to see when these two next hook up. They make a great on screen presence. One of the best. When you see them... you just want them together.
Dad said they reminded him of Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed, but... well that’s a bit weird for me. To me, they’re just Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. And I love em both.