Sunday, January 4, 2009

Romantic Comedy

I am not a channel surfer. I lived for decades without cable television (seriously) and now that I have it, I do like it, but am a fan of a few networks. I mostly watch NBC, the Food Network, and msnbc--channels 04, 39, and 45, respectively--and am familiar with their schedules and programming. But after spending a little time this week with a member of the opposite sex, for whom channel surfing is somehow genetically encoded, I found myself following his lead and looking around for something to watch last night. I had seen FN's line up umpteen times, wasn't into the college bowl airing, and msnbc was showing an episode from their prison series or Caught on Camera, I can't remember which, but both--depending on my mood--I can find too violent and disturbing to watch. So there I was, clicker in hand. As fate would have it, just as I began my search, Sleepless in Seattle was beginning on ABC.

Lucky me! I loved that movie!

For two and a half hours I watched what I remembered was one of my favorite movies at the time and I remembered why I loved it so. I smiled again at the witty dialogue, the relationship between Hanks and the son, the relationship between Meg Ryan and Rosie O'Donnell-- the quintessential, nonjudgmental friendship. And, like Rosie, I cheered Meg on in this crazy pursuit of a man whose voice she heard on a radio show. I laughed at the dining table scene when Rita Wilson is mocked for breaking down in tears recalling An Affair to Remember, and I cried at the end.

In addition to enjoying it all over again for the good romantic comedy it is, I was also transported back to 1993 in my own life. During commercials (it was on network TV, after all, and I haven't turned into a clicker junkie...yet) I thought about my favorite outfit of the time and how I wore my hair. I thought about the business trips I used to take when I was a text book editor, the first time I went to Pike Place Market, and the first time I ate PNW salmon. I thought about my love life (or lack of therein) at the time and my own romantic notions past and present, how some have changed over time and others remain the same.

This morning I couldn't help but think that it was not at all coincidental that as I set goals for the new year I was reacquainted with romantic comedy and thought about my own romantic notions. I have been reading great books lately by great authors like Chris Bohjalian and Ann Patchett and Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Haigh and Ruth Reichl, and they are all noteworthy. But what really gets me, the kind of books I especially like to read, and which I have been attempting to write on and off for the past twenty years is "romantic comedy for intelligent readers," as Elinor Lipman, one of my favorite authors and my old writing mentor and teacher (whose new book will be released in May 2009), identified her genre.

Last night, when I picked up the clicker, the universe directed my thumb to find a movie that would lead me back to my love. Who am I to argue? I am on my way.

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