Give Each Character the Best Lines

There’s an NYT article by Eleanor Stanford about her favorite line from “When Harry Met Sally . . .” that’s my favorite, too: “You’re right, you’re right, I know you’re right.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said that (and thank you, Nora Ephron). The essay analyzes why, and it made me think about some of my other favorites. Like . . .

“That escalated quickly.”

“There’s no crying in baseball.” (Bob hit me with a variation on that one yesterday.)

“And someday you’ll die, and I’ll come to your funeral in a red dress!”

I was thinking about the reason some lines stick around and I think it’s because they reflect some universal feeling, encapsulate that feeling in few words–surprise, fear, rage–while recalling a moment in a film that just nailed that complex emotion. The way “I miscalculated” is not nearly as effective as “We’re gonna need a bigger boat.” Or “I’m done here” is not nearly as delicious “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” Or “I love you madly for all time” is not nearly as knee-weakening as “I know.”

Your turn: What lines from books, movies, songs, whatever do you use because they shorthand the moment for you? Or for whatever reason?