When Harry Met Sally

by Miguel Balbuena

“When Harry Met Sally …” is a comedic film starring Billy Crystal as Harry Burns and Meg Ryan as Sally Albright. It was directed by Rob Reiner and written by Nora Ephron. In 1990 it was nominated for an Academy Award for best screenplay written directly for the screen.

In a nutshell, the plot of “When Harry Met Sally …” revolves around a 12-year on and off relationship between both characters, which occupies the liminal space between romance and plain friendship.

I think most readers know a male and a female personality, and they could use the storyline of Harry and Sally as a template for developing their own personal narratives. To provide them with further inspiration, I tried my hand precisely at this and came up with the following.

A creole version of Reiner’s motion picture, “When Lucho Met Naty …,” is an intimate story with more colorful twists and turns than the original, which have remained concealed from public consumption for 71 years until I blew the lid off this case. From a genetical perspective, this story is about how 23 pairs out of my 46 pairs of chromosomes (in each of my cells) met the other 23 pairs. As we all know, human cells are diploid, and people get half of their chromosomes for their fathers and half from their mothers, with chromosomes being packages of DNA.

That’s enough microbiology for now. I will get to the gist of my story.

In the evening of Jan. 9, 1946, blue-blooded socialite Maria Natividad (Naty) Garcia headed for a party held in Lima. Upon exiting her house in the Cercado district of this city, she exhaled two sighs of relief.

The first sigh was for getting away from her father, national Congressman Manuel Leopoldo Garcia, whom she loved dearly but she questioned whether he was being too controlling with her. Of course, Leopoldo’s interactions with at least five women had etched in his memory life lessons that he didn’t want her daughter to learn them the hard way, from similar individual experiences but from a top-down parental approach not too well substantiated in words.

“I’m sure he had the best of intentions in his heart of gold,” Naty said of Leopoldo. “Nonetheless, it felt a bit overbearing for my taste.”

Naty’s second sigh of relief was for having a escape valve for her weekday routine as a mathematics teacher in the First Women’s National School Rosa of Saint Mary.

Naty entered the spacious living room of the house where the party was taking place, which soon would turn into a lively dance flour. There were adult drinks and food galore. But for Naty, as for the other girls, first things came first. It was time for her to catch up on the latest gossips in town with her lady friends, especially with her former classmates from the First College of Education for Women, housed in the Convent of St. Peter, both run by the Catholic congregation Mothers of the Sacred Heart. Naty had graduated from this college after having study medicine in the Faculty of St. Ferdinand of the Major National University of St. Mark, the oldest one of the Americas.

Among these classmates were Aida Guzman and Carmen Rojas. After the requisite gossip ritual was over, the conversation moved to a spicy topic: what guys were expected at the party.

The girlie talk zero in on Luis (Lucho) Miguel Balbuena, the mustachioed 25-year-old charismatic head of state of the Sultanate of the Palo Seco, Lima’s indisputable premiere street group of twenty somethings. The dialogue also covered Lucho’s entourage of top lieutenants: Pashas Hernan Artieda, Alfonso Rodriguez, Juan Devescovi, Max Biber y Pepe Galvez, as well as the brothers of the former: Gato, Fernando and Moni.

“Lucho is coming!,” revealed Aida.

“Who the heck is Lucho?,” replied Naty.

“What’s wrong with you? You don’t know?,” interjected Carmen. “He’s the best dancer in town!”

In his 1964 book “One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society,” German philosopher Herbert Marcuse described the narrow-mindedness of the prototypical alienated consumer. Lucho was just the opposite: a universal, multi-dimensional and versatile man all around, to the point that he could have been the subject of a book titled “Multi-Dimensional Man.” Before long Naty found out about these attributes of Lucho’s.

“Do you want to dance, my fair lady?,” Lucho politely asked her later in the night. And the rest is history. I believe hunk Ryan Gosling could play Lucho and Emma Stone could play Naty in an upcoming Hollywood movie.

About the author: Miguel Balbuena is a writer in the academic, scientific, journalistic and literary fields (in the fiction and non-fiction genres).