We’ve mentioned previously that You’ve Got Mail is one of our collective favorite movies. In our house, our relationship with our favorite movies typically follows the same route:
1. We see it once or twice and love it for some ratio of meaningfulness and humor
2. We rent it or watch it on Netflix until it becomes glaringly obvious that we have to buy it, so we do
3. We watch it over and over again, until we begin to look past the obvious enjoyable qualities and pick up on overlooked, subtle, and/or obscure moments
4. We begin to quote those moments and their obscure bits of dialogue, out of context, usually out of the blue
Early in the first act of You’ve Got Mail, when the e-mail relationship between Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) and Joe Fox (Tom Hanks) is being established, Nora Ephron hides a mini-essay about Starbucks in the form of Joe Fox making an observation. As Tom Hanks narrates the scene with a voice-over in which Meg Ryan is standing in line at Starbucks, a short man in a gray sweater, wearing glasses with a prescription so strong it gives him popping bug eyes, walks up to the counter and orders a “Tall decaf cappuccino.” It was this guy that we picked up on, because he not only pronounces the words in the correct Italian—which could have been fairly pretentious if he weren’t so funny-looking—but also because his voice seems to be projecting from the middle of his throat instead of towards the top. As these things usually go, we tend to exaggerate impressions over time, so he eventually started sounding like a cross between Kermit the Frog and the old farmer in Napoleon Dynamite who shoots a cow in front of the school bus.
Enter our story: when we went to New York in May, we took an afternoon for a You’ve Got Mail tour on the Upper West Side, and we discovered that somehow, 10 years later, the Starbucks featured in the scene is still standing. So we went in to enjoy some coffee, chai, and cake pops. Without planning to, Joel ordered the same drink, in the exaggerated voice, with a completely straight face. Of course no one noticed, but we walked to the end of the bar giggling like it was the funniest thing we’d ever experienced.