I Am Not Norah Ephron

Jul 16

I wrote this a year ago but didn’t publish it  because I was afraid that it might sound . . . bitter. I didn’t mean it to be! I like my life, but Nora Ephron seemed to have The Life. She was my hero (heroine? I’m never sure about those PC things) and this was a tribute to her, although now it does seem a bit bittersweet. . .

noraephron1I once wrote about how important it is not to compare yourself with others. And I meant it. Every word of it. At the time.

Then I read a piece about Nora Ephron in The New Yorker, yes, The New Yorker, and I couldn’t help but compare myself to her. I’m not an envious person, but still. The woman has everything!

I’m thinking of publishing a book of humorous essays and recently talked to an agent who told me that books like this are a hard sell to publishers. Unless, of course, you’re Nora Ephron. Her “I Feel Bad About My Neck” was big.

My last published work was called Big Digs, I’m not making this up, an illustrated book for kids about how things are built. It’s actually quite cute, and very informative, although I personally feel that it would have been much better if John Deere had let me include a glossary of the very colorful terms actually used on the construction site. Those people at Deere are very serious about their equipment. And, not being Nora Ephron, I didn’t have the clout to insist on doing it my way.

The New Yorker article evoked a number of other distressing comparisons for me. I have never been married to Carl Bernstein, I have not been nominated for an Oscar, and I am not a world-class cook. For dinner with the journalist who wrote the article, Nora whipped up some ”excellent shrimp sautéed in butter and Cajun spices which she served with Provencal tomatoes and crispy rice baked in a copper casserole.” I’m not sure I even know what Provencal tomatoes are, although they sound delicious.

Nora bemoans the fact that no one would allow her to cook on her wedding day. She says that it felt strange having 40 for dinner and not cooking. I, on the other hand, had about the same number of people at my wedding, and I complained endlessly about having to deal with the caterer. Which is as far as I’ll ever get to making dinner for 40.

Norah doesn’t complain, she bemoans. So much classier.

Not that she has a lot to complain—or bemoan—about, what with the fabulous apartment with views of the Chrysler building and gorgeous French decor. I can see the Chrysler building, too, from the roof of my building, which I visit about three times a decade and I have a hood ornament from a Chrysler in my bookcase. No wait, that’s a Buick. But it’s very cool, really.

noraephron2What I see out my windows are what real estate agents call city views, which means a lot of sky, 2nd Avenue looking south, other buildings, and water tanks. So New York. It’s a very nice two-bedroom apartment in what is being designated as a landmark Art Deco building, but it’s not, let’s face it, up to Nora’s standards.

Actually, the only things we have in common is that we both write humorous essays, we’re about the same age, had a few marriages before we finally figured out that the trick is to marry an Italian, and we both live in and love Manhattan.

My husband and I like to sip martinis from frosted glasses and call ourselves Mr. and Mrs. North, an incredibly suave couple of sleuths we vaguely remember from some reruns, on Nick at Night, I think.  But now I realize that not only does she have the real-live Nick at night, but NORA Ephron is married to NICK Pillegi, so that makes them . . . Nick and Nora!  This is so unfair.

Well, to look on the bright side, she’s a blogger too, so we have that in common. Of course, in her spare time, she also writes plays, screen plays, and directs movies like Sleepless In Seattle (I have insomnia) that are nominated for Academy Awards.

But she doesn’t tweet, just like me. Or at least not yet. Wonder if she Bings? And we both, of course, feel bad about our necks.

Not to mention our elbows, upper arms, thighs and bellies.  And that—not death—may turn out to be the great leveler for all women, the thing that each of us has in common, even though none of us can quite match up to the incomparable Nora Ephron.

 

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