I liked Nora Ephron for the same reason you probably did. She was so refreshingly real. In our youth-obsessed culture where women strive to hide their physical flaws, she was one woman who welcomed an audience for her wrinkled neck.
Nothing was off-limits for her. She once said, “I can’t understand why anyone would write fiction when what actually happens is so amazing.”
So she wrote about things that most of us try to hide. Personal humiliations. A famous husband who left her for another woman while she was pregnant. Her small breasts. And in her later years, she told us about the realities of aging with hilarious insight.
Like this quote. “Anything you think is wrong with your body at the age of 35 you will be nostalgic for at the age of 45.”
See what I mean? Nora Ephron had what I want. A certain fearlessness that seemed rooted in utter confidence. Maybe that’s why I admired her from afar, she was self assured enough not to care. She said what she really felt and made us laugh in the process.
Go ahead. Look at my neck, I’ll raise you ten, and write about it.
And boy did she write. In her screenplays, Sleepless in Seattle, When Harry Met Sally, and You’ve Got Mail, she wrote about love, relationships and heartbreak, and she wooed us with the idea of one true love.
How could someone write dialogue like this and not be my girlfriend?
“I love that you get cold when it’s 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you’re looking at me like I’m nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it’s not because I’m lonely, and it’s not because it’s New Year’s Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”
Harry: “There are two kinds of women: high maintenance and low maintenance.”
Sally: “Which one am I?”
Harry: “You’re the worst kind; you’re high maintenance but you think you’re low maintenance.”
— “When Harry Met Sally”
Nora Ephron was an immensely successful author, screenwriter and film director who was also a wife and a mother. And by all accounts, she was a exuberant, caring friend to so many. I’ll miss hearing her wickedly funny anecdotes and her musings on growing old. But mostly I’ll miss her brand of unabashed honesty about her real life experiences, how she showed her audience her most vulnerable parts and was stronger for it. No red-faced shame for her. Just a whole lot of self depreciating laughter.
I find that admirable.
I thought you might be interested to look over the following list. It’s from Nora Ephron’s final book entitled, “I Remember Nothing.” These are the things she will miss.
What I Will Miss
The concept of waffles
A walk in the park
The idea of a walk in the park
Shakespeare in the Park
Reading in bed
The view out the window
Dinner at home just the two of us
Dinner with friends
Dinner with friends in cities where none of us lives
Next year in Istanbul
Pride and Prejudice
The Christmas tree
One for the table
Taking a bath
Coming over the bridge to Manhattan
How bout you?
What would be on your list?