The year is 2005. I have convinced my future wife to watch Annie Hall on IFC in our one-bedroom apartment in Waltham, Massachusetts, and we are really enjoying it. It has long been one of my favorite movies and I was so excited to be sharing it with this wonderful woman that I love, who has never seen it before.
We are both having a great time, up until the scene on the pier looking up at the Brooklyn Bridge. Alvy asks Annie if she loves him and Diane Keaton starts to give her adorably honest response. But then my blood runs cold.
My mind flashes back to 2002, the first year that this woman and I first started saying we loved each other. I was away at college, and our romance blossomed over the phone, but it was no less sincere.
I think of one particular conversation wherein after much sweet talk, she asks me once again if I love her, and I, trying to be funny and charming, sincere and sweet all at the same time, say “Love is too weak a word. I lurve you, I loave you, I loff you.” And more improvisations on this theme.
It has the desired impact. She says “Aww!” a couple times and says she loves me too, and we laugh together like idiots and make kissy noises.
I confess that I thought at the time she would not recognize the reference and would credit me with its invention. But this was not an academic paper. I did not need to cite my sources. The quotation truthfully communicated the power of my feelings, so why not say it? Should I instead use less appropriate verbiage that would misrepresent the depth of my love, simply on principle?
That was how I rationalized it at the time, and how I continue to rationalize the piracy of good writing in the service of conversation.
But now, in 2005, many years after this incident, I realize that my own enthusiasm for this movie has inadvertently brought the object of my affections face to face with hard evidence of my unoriginality.
Annie asks Alvy if he loves her.
Will she remember? And if she does will she think it’s just a coincidence?
I briefly consider feigning an accident with the remote wherein the channel is changed for a few seconds.
The sunset deepens on the pier and Alvy and Annie draw their heads closer.
A bead of sweat navigates the folds of my forced smile.
ALVY: Love is too weak a word for what I feel -- I lurve you, you know, I loave you, I loff you, two F's, yes I have to invent, of course I -- I do, don't you think I do?
I laugh lightly. “Ha ha ha ha ha!”
Her stare burns away the hair on the side of my head. I turn.
“YOU SON OF A BITCH!”