Saturday, July 21, 2012
"I'll Have What She's Having..."
We have lost the sophisticated and enlightened humor of the great Nora Ephron at the young age of 71. She wrote the classic "When Harry Met Sally." Who is not familiar with Meg Ryan's fake orgasm scene and the middle-aged woman at the next table (played by Rob Reiner’s mom) telling the waiter "I'll have what she’s having." She also wrote and directed "Sleepless in Seattle" and "You've Got Mail" among others. Her last film was “Julie and Julia.” She was great friends with Meryl Streep, who said at her memorial service “she was a breathtaking original.”
Nora Ephron’s writing is a sure-fire recipe for laughter, in my book. She was devoted to Manhattan, cooking and her family including the wonderful husband she finally found after a disastrous marriage to a philandering Carl Bernstein. She was also a strong feminist. I knew very little about her until now, after she’s gone. The more I read the more I admire her humor, her courage and her love of both reading and writing.
Newsweek and the New York Times both had good articles about her. She came from a family of writers, both parents eventually ended up alcoholics. Her mother famously told her, "Everything is copy." She turned many of her experiences from a bad marriage to the disappointments of aging into highly amusing scenes in her books and movies. (I loved her hilarious book of essays from 2006 called "I Feel Bad About My Neck.")
A life well-lived, ending too soon with a terminal illness. Here are a few quotes attributed to her that I found interesting.
"I try to write parts for women that are as complicated and interesting as women really are."
"Reading is one of the main things I do. Reading is everything. Reading makes me feel I've accomplished something, become a better person. Reading makes me smarter."
Some quotes from a 1996 commencement address to the young women at Wellesley:
"Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim."
"One of the things people always say to you if you get upset is don't take it personally. Understand: every attack on Hillary Clinton for not knowing her place is an attack on you. Underneath all attacks are the words: get back, get back, get back to where you once belonged. When Elizabeth Dole pretends that she isn't serious about her career, that is an attack on you. Any move to limit abortion rights is an attack on you--whether or not you believe in abortion. The fact that Clarence Thomas is sitting on the Supreme Court today is an attack on you."
How refreshing--the idea that it might actually be appropriate to take it personally, to get angry and fight back.
Farewell to Nora, an inspiration to women and particularly to those who know how to write and to laugh out loud.