Why I want to be You've Got Mail's Kathleen Kelly when I grow up
Meg Ryan was the queen of the ’90s. The hair, the smirk, the sweet mysterious charm. She especially captured our hearts when her and the ever-awesome Tom Hanks became the on-screen duo of our dreams. While she has undoubtedly had an illustrious career, my ’90s girl devotion will always belong to You’ve Got Mail, and her character therein: the one and only Kathleen Kelly. Here are some of the many reasons I wanted (okay, still want) to be her when I grow up. 27 isn’t too old to dream, right?
Her favorite flowers are daisies
Choosing a favorite flower is actually a pretty big accomplishment. Or maybe just for indecisive folk like me. There are just so many shapes and sizes and styles to choose from, and they all represent different things. I think it’s incredibly endearing when someone has a flower that they love above all others. For Kathleen, daisies are her jam, and it’s adorable. She even has a handkerchief with a daisy embroidered on it. Only magical people carry customized embroidered handkerchiefs around.
In that moment alone, we pretty much know all we need to know about our darling Kathleen.
She owns the shop around the corner
I don’t know if there’s a better, sweeter dream than to own a little green bookstore. The twinkle lights and paper dolls and framed book covers. Sigh. She has the dream job. She has a passion for reading and an extensive knowledge of books, and is always aiming to inspire that same passion in other people (especially children). She’s a story lady. I absolutely aspire to be that great at reading to my kids someday. Her daily life is surrounded by magical stories, dear friends, and precious memories of her late mother.
I’m going to conveniently ignore the part where she is forced to close the bookstore and imagines her and her mom twirling in its dark emptiness. Sob.
She loves people
She nurtures friendships with all kinds of different people. The intellectual, the slacker, the quirky. I adore her interactions with her coworkers, and her odd but likable bond with her boyfriend, Frank. She’s a loyal friend. She treasures the unique relationships in her life and is able to see what’s special about each individual.
She rocks a pleated pant
How is she so cute wearing granny sweaters, cardigans and high-waisted pleated pants? Her old lady style is somehow everything I want to be.
She doesn’t have everything figured out
She struggles and wonders and dreams and wishes. She’s taking part in this wonderful legacy by running a bookstore that once belonged to her mother. She hopes to pass it on to her daughter one day, but isn’t even sure yet whether she’ll have a daughter or what her life will look like. She wants to be fiercer and more confrontational, but isn’t sure she likes the possible consequences of speaking her mind and hurting another person.
Kathleen Kelly is me. She’s you. She’s everyone.
She’s beautiful, but she’s a pill
That right there is one of my favorite lines of the movie. Tom Hanks’ character is annoyed by her ability to get under his skin, but she persists. She’s feistier than she’d probably ever give herself credit for being. While she’s thoughtful and kind, she’s no pushover. She’s a strong woman with a solid mind. She fights for what she truly believes in and he is both charmed and increasingly frustrated by that.
She picks herself up
Alright so I can’t really ignore the part where she loses her bookstore – because it’s a rather enormous contributor to why I love her so much. She grieves the loss, but she also finds herself again. She ends up pursuing writing, which is something she never thought she would do. The closing of her store provides her with the ample time and ability to try something new that is a different kind of perfect fit for her. She is able to heal and pursue a new dream.
And last but certainly not least…
She appreciates and respects gourmet food
I really could go on and on. I love Kathleen Kelly, and I love You’ve Got Mail. It’s one of those little gems of cinema that gets better and better every time I watch it. The dialogue is wonderful and the character nuances are endlessly entertaining and full of heart. I’ll end with a loving shout out to the one and only Nora Ephron for bringing this movie, and this idyllic heroine, into our lives. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Now excuse me while I go look up tutorials for handkerchief embroidery.
Photos via Warner Bros.