Five Ways Something Ruined My Life

Five Ways ‘You've Got Mail' Ruined My Life

I have a shameful secret to admit. When You’ve Got Mail came out, I thought I was too good for it. Shocking, I know, since clearly everyone in the world loves this movie. (This was around the same time I thought I was too good for Britney Spears…such a misstep 14-year-old, Erin). Well, it turns out, I was just good enough for You’ve Got Mail and it wormed its way into my heart my freshman year of college.

My lovely roommate (who I kept for all of college) bought a DVD player for our room and suddenly we could watch movies together instead of me just watching The Virgin Suicides 30 times on my Dell laptop alone (I was a film student – the multiple re-watches were for a paper). So then I became very familiar with her movie collection which included You’ve Got Mail and, for instance, Overboard. So I guess sometime freshman year I decided to give this movie another shot. And then it was a whole different world. Now I was LIVING in New York and also watching it in this adorable movie and suddenly all was right in the world. (I think it’s important to note I LOVED Sleepless in Seattle and Joe Versus the Volcano so it was really important I get on board with the last of the Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks trifecta).

I still find it hard to be in a Starbucks without hearing “Tall. Decaf. Cappuccino.” And they have maybe the best supporting cast ever (Parker Posey, Greg Kinnear, Dave Chappelle, Steve Zahn, Jane Adams and an almost unrecognizable Sara Ramirez!).

But here are some other ways You’ve Got Mail ruined my life:

1. I Want It to Be Appropriate to Yell “That Caviar is a Garnish!” At Someone

Metaphorically or literally, I’d love to be able to use Kathleen Kelly’s “that caviar is a garnish!” line. On anyone. I mean, it’s just sort of amazing. She’s so taken aback that “Joe” from the bookstore with the adorable kids is “Joe Fox” that she doesn’t know how to react to him so she just yells at him for eating all the caviar – which is being used as a garnish on this particular hors d’oeuvre. THE NERVE!

It’s just brilliant. And I can’t look at caviar or talk about caviar without picturing this scene.

Similarly, I’ve been keeping a list of “Things That Were Definitely In My AIM Profile At One Point” and one of them is “bouquets of sharpened pencils.” (Specifically from her line remembering his quote ABOUT the newly sharpened pencils. It’s just perfect.

2. Want to Own a Bookstore and Write Children’s Books 

When I was a kid, we used to go to this local bookstore by our apartment and they had a little kid’s play area in the corner of the store that was right up against the window. And it was awesome. It had toys there and you could just sit around and look out the window and see who else was hanging out there and I just remember thinking it was so cool.

So I mean, I’ve always loved bookstores. But then you see Meg Ryan owning a bookstore and it’s a whole new level. Her bookstore is so cute and everyone loves her AND it’s a family business (another dream of mine was to be in a family business). Now, you might be thinking, “did you not understand what happened in the movie? She has to close her store!” And, yes, I do understand that. But that still sort of makes it feel so romantic. She has this tiny bookstore and these people who work there and they’re friends and this is their life. Putting on princess hats (what do we call those?) and reading stories to kids and selling cool old books and just generally having a good time.

And then she starts writing children’s books! It’s like Kathleen Kelly reached inside my brain and stole my made up life I had for myself! She also loves daisies and I LOVE daisies so it’s all very Single White Female of her but I’ll let it slide.

3. Makes Me Upset That I No Longer Live In the 90’s

I mean, I think we’re all pretty susceptible to nostalgia. When VH1 was doing “I Love the 80’s” and everything I was totally on board. But let’s not kid ourselves. I was only alive for 5 years of the 80’s. What exactly was I reminiscing about? Vague memories from early childhood? I mean, yes, I remember watching the video to Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” as a kid so I guess I could kind of relate but the 90’s were really my time to shine. I definitely was convinced I could be on “I Love the 90’s” and was already preparing for what I would wear to my talking head interview. Sadly, they did it without me. (What jerks).

But given my deep nostalgia for the 90’s, You’ve Got Mail is one of the greatest movies to watch. Is it the Most 90’s Movie of All Time? No. But it is pretty darn good 90’s-wise. I mean, just the fact that the entire movie is a love letter to AOL is amazing. Remember when we just had to wait in anticipation to hear the words “you’ve got mail”? Now we have to obsessively check to see if anyone mentioned us on twitter, wrote to us on Facebook, liked our posts on Tumblr AND emailed us! So much harder! (Oh gosh, did I turn into Greg Kinnear’s character? I better not start calling anyone a lone reed…)


I’m not saying I wish I had AOL or anything but that modem sound is so comforting to me somehow. Right?

But how come Kathleen Kelly hates Fox Books but gets her coffee at Starbucks rather than a local coffee shop? That’s always bugged me.

4. Makes Me Upset That I Can Never Live In The NYC Of This Movie

This comes up with almost any movie or TV show set in a place where you live. Nothing is ever the same. Monica and Rachel’s apartment is CRAZY, no one normal gets to live like that (especially with that studio audience in the living room – awkward!). But the New York City in You’ve Got Mail is particularly great.

It’s beautiful Spring weather!

It’s beautiful Fall weather!

Gorgeous snow is falling!

It’s never disgusting Summer weather!

Realistically, there should be a scene where everyone’s hair is so wet from the combination of falling snow and sweat from being on the subway in layers and layers of winter clothes. There should also be a scene in the summertime where Meg Ryan is wearing a white top and gets caught in a rain storm and has to run home.

I mean, don’t get me wrong I absolutely love New York City (and State, in general) but we are not known for our awesome weather. There are a few weeks per year when we’re allowed to have nice, mild weather and that’s about it.

But thank goodness for glossy movies that don’t make us live in reality.

5. “All This Nothing Has Meant More to Me Than So Many Somethings”

We’re gonna get real here for a minute. I love this as a romantic comedy. They Hate Each Other At First But Then Fall In Love, Duh is my favorite genre of movie ever. Well, maybe not ever. I love a good Fish Out of Water tale as well. And Odd Couples! Oh man, so many good movies.

But I digress.

You’ve Got Mail is so nice because nothing outwardly happens with them until the very end. You’re just hoping they’ll figure it out the whole time. All they do is email and IM! It’s so cute. I mean, would we even make this movie anymore? And this is from 1998. It’s not like it’s an ancient movie. But I just love simple it all is. They both convince each other that it’s okay to have this online relationship because nothing happens, they just talk. But isn’t that what good romance is about? That connection that you have with someone else even just through a computer? It’s amazing. And then I just love that line of “all this nothing has meant more to me than so many…somethings.” It’s just beautiful and a perfect summation of what is so good about this movie.


Also I sort of dreamed that someone would describe me as Kathleen Kelly gets described: “Oh, no, she’s beautiful, but she’s a pill.”

(Main photo from here, computer pic from here)