Admit it. You can’t name any famous Noras besides Nora Ephron. You might have mentally blurted out Norah Jones, but she’s a Nora with an “h,” so it doesn’t count. If you thought Nora Helmer, she’s cool and all, but only real on the pages of “A Doll’s House.” If you said Nora Roberts, well, I don’t know you.
I’ve always wished that Nora Ephron and I had something in common besides a kick-ass first name, small breasts, and a birthday (she was born exactly two decades before me). But I can’t claim anything else – except for desperately wanting to be her.
I didn’t just want to write like her, or live her glamorous life, or wallow in her piles of money, I wanted to be Nora Ephron. She was smart and snappy and romantic and whip-crack funny and brave. She was a writer of all things: newspapers, magazines, screenplays, essays, blogs, and books and stuff I don’t even know about. Everything I wished I had the talent, confidence, and gumption to do.
Nora was heavy on gumption. I’m blushing just typing the word “orgasm,” and she made faking it famous. She was in intern in the John Kennedy White House but she left that to live in her beloved New York City and work as a mail girl for Newsweek, which led to a gig at the New York Post and so on until she was writing screenplays and directing movies. Not to mention writing books based on her life. She took to heart her mom’s advice: “Everything is copy.” She made sweet literary lemonade out of being cheated on and menopause and memory loss.
And she was married three times – not that I condone that, if you’re reading this, Mom and Dad – but holy matrimony, she was married to Carl Bernstein! She knew who Deep Throat was, and apparently wasn’t too tight lipped about it. As someone who’s never married, I can’t imagine the nerve it took to not only say “yes” three times, but to walk away twice.
I was on Nora Ephron death watch yesterday. Twitter was abuzz about rumors of her demise and I was hoping that somehow that Liz Smith and social media got it all wrong, but in the end it was true.
Rest in peace, Nora, I’ll continue to try to do our name proud, and work on gathering some gumption.