When Harry Met Sally (1989). Meg Ryan (left) and Billy Crystal (Right) as the titular characters in the famous deli scene. There’s even a table dedicated to them at the Katz’s Delicatessen in NYC.
Context: A couple, in their 30s, out on a date for the first time together. Having recently plucked up the courage to ask out his coworker, John is nervous but keen to make a first impression. Mary on the other hand, used to being asked out, is relaxed and confident, however she is secretly pleased John had asked her out, as she has always had her eye on him in the office. They are having a candle-lit dinner, in a private booth, of a recently trending Japanese bar in Melbourne.
John: Just so, I don’t make this mistake of talking too much about work, do you prefer us to talk about something else?
Mary: I’m relaxed. I don’t mind talking about work, but …
John: Yeah fair enough, we talk to each other enough there anyway. Umm … do you have any siblings?
Mary: (laughing lightly) Yes, I do. I have two younger sisters. Ashleigh and Jane. They’re 27 and 25. Both are about to get married soon.
Mary: Yeah. I’m sort of the black sheep in the family. I’ve come close a lot of times, but it’s just never really panned out.
John: Do you mind if I ask why?
Mary: Yeah I do actually. Sorry.
An awkward silence descends ….
John: Sorry. I shouldn’t have tried to ask. I’m just nervous.
Mary: Its OK.
John: Dates are difficult for me. I never really quite know what to ask.
Mary: Well, you could try asking about things that aren’t related to my exes for one.
John reflexively coughs in disbelief. But when he sees Mary smile, he feels a bit better.
John: OK. Let me try again. What do you like to do after work?
Mary: Well … aside from going out on dates with awkward men, I like to watch Netflix, going to my Pilates class and learn new languages.
John: Wow. What are learning at the moment?
Mary: French. I know … I know … its cliched. But I spent a semester abroad there in high school, and I ended up falling in love with French culture.
John: avoir bonne mine
Mary: Wow. Merci beaucoup. That was impressive.
John: Just a bit of high school French. Its about the only thing I remember.
Mary: How about yourself John? What do you like to do after work?
John: I’m kind of the same. I like to unwind with Netflix. But I like taking up a lot of new classes. I’m not learning any new languages, but I do some self – defence classes, and recently I took up some textiles classes.
Mary: textiles? Like sewing and knitting?
John: Yep. What? …. I just one day realized that I can’t actually repair my clothes and instead of spending 80 dollars to get them repaired, why not do it myself? See this tie?
Mary: Don’t tell me, you made that ….
John: I did! It took me about a week. But I was really happy with the way how it turned out.
Mary: Can I?
Mary: Wow Is this silk?
John: Yep. I had it imported.
Mary: Is this your first attempt?
John: Yeah ….. nah I’m just kidding. I’ve been doing textiles classes for at least 2 months now. So its not that recent. But I made my first tie about a month ago. So now I’ve been doing socks, ties, and I’m about to make my own shirt.
Mary: That’s amazing. I should take up a class like that.
John: Well if you are keen, I’m happy to take you to one of mine!
Mary: I’d like that.
John: Care for dessert?
Mary: We always have room for dessert.
John signals the waiter and orders matcha ice-cream with red bean topping. His body language is relaxed, confident and this is reflected in his more casual posture. He isn’t standing to attention as much, and Mary seems to let her guard down more.
The date is a success.
I still think its a bit clunky. I think I struggle the most with getting into other people’s head. I am so wrapped up in my own, its difficult to imagine a different style of talking, with realistic pauses, word use and just sounding different to me.
This probably represents my best attempt. I tried to make John sound more confident as the conversation went along, whilst Mary, with her experience, was just allowing John to take the reins.
A bit of an improvement over my old ways of talking.
Practice, Practice, Practice.