Nora Ephron’s I Feel Bad About My Neck: All Wit and All Honesty
I know Nora Ephron as the iconic name behind those rosy Manhattan love stories I couldn't get enough of as a kid -- "When Harry Met Sally," "You've Got Mail," "Sleepless in Seattle." I’ve watched these movies so many times that I became convinced my love life would turn out exactly like Meg Ryan's (and felt slightly betrayed by Ephron when it didn't). But for a woman who mastered the art of the romantic comedy, Ephron's own experiences with love were less than rosy. She reveals this along with an array of personal impressions of aging and life's ups and downs -- during which she always managed to keep her sense of hope and humor -- throughout her 2006 collection of candid essays, I Feel Bad About My Neck.
Ephron writes about divorce as if it were a pair of designer shoes -- something every woman has the right to at least one of -- but also hints at its darker side. "In a divorce, you never tell your children that you were once madly in love with their father because it would be too confusing," she advises in "The Story of My Life in 3,500 Words or Less." Yet Ephron never gave up on love, and despite betrayal, chose to love fiercely in many areas of her life.
In "Serial Monogamy: A Memoir," Ephron details her love affair with food, sparked by The Art of Gourmet Cooking, the first cookbook her mother gave her when she moved to New York in 1962. While she admits to some of her culinary flops, Ephron never stopped delighting in the joy of food.
In "Moving On" Ephron writes about one of her more fickle lovers -- her first New York apartment in The Apthorp on the Upper West Side. Starting at $1500 a month for a five-bedroom (I sobbed when I read that), Ephron falls hard and does not let go, even when building politics get dirty and her rent rises 400 percent in three years. Eventually, she is forced to leave The Apthorp and moves to the Upper East Side, where she reluctantly falls in love again, this time with her new neighborhood.
While much of I Feel Bad About My Neck is about endings -- the end of marriage, the end of cheap apartments, the end of youth and tight necks -- with Ephron there is always a sense that you can start over, that a new beginning is never far behind, especially with a little Botox. "You can always change your mind," she once said. "I know; I've had four careers and three husbands." I'm sure she also meant that you can always fall in love, no matter how many times it has let you down. In these essays, Ephron masters the art of the romantic life and makes you fall in love with her all over again.
People have only one way to be.
Buy, don’t rent.
Never marry a man you wouldn’t want to be divorced
Don’t cover a couch with anything that isn’t more or
Don’t buy anything that is 100 percent wool even if it
seems to be very soft and not particularly itchy when
you try it on in the store.
You can’t be friends with people who call after 11 p.m.
Block everyone on your instant mail.
The world’s greatest babysitter burns out after two and
a half years.
You never know.
The last four years of psychoanalysis are a waste of
The plane is not going to crash.
Anything you think is wrong with your body at the age
of thirty-five you will be nostalgic for at the age of forty-
At the age of fifty-five you will get a saggy roll just
above your waist even if you are painfully thin.
This saggy roll just above your waist will be especially
visible from the back and will force you to reevaluate
half the clothes in your closet, especially the white
Write everything down.
Keep a journal.
Take more pictures.
The empty nest is underrated.
You can order more than one dessert.
You can’t own too many black turtleneck sweaters.
If the shoe doesn’t fit in the shoe store, it’s never going
When your children are teenagers, it’s important to have
a dog so that someone in the house is happy to see you.
Back up your files.
Whenever someone says the words “Our friendship is
more important than this,” watch out, because it almost
There’s no point in making piecrust from scratch.
The reason you’re waking up in the middle of the night
is the second glass of wine.
The minute you decide to get divorced, go see a lawyer
and file the papers.
Never let them know.
If only one third of your clothes are mistakes, you’re
ahead of the game.
If friends ask you to be their child’s guardian in case
they die in a plane crash, you can say no.
There are no secrets.
From the Hardcover edition.