I have been inconsolable about Nora Ephron’s death. I read all her books the minute they came out. I cried every time I watched one of her movies, which was as recently as last Saturday. But I had no idea how much everybody else loved her, too – I mean, the outpouring of love, and stories, and thanks, and memories has been huge. Like Jackie Kennedy huge.
I’m not really crazy about having to share Nora Ephron with everybody like this. Because I had plans for me and Nora. I thought we could be great pals. In fact, I recently went somewhere I knew she’d be, in hopes that someone would introduce us. No one did, and when I saw her across the room, I was too shy to do it myself.
If all this sounds flip in the wake of someone’s passing, I don’t mean it to be. My great friend Nancy, who later went on to invent iVillage, actually took me to a party at Nora Ephron and Dan Greenburg’s home once, back in the late 70s, so I had my chance, and I missed it. I knew who he was, but not his wife; for some reason they were having a party for the new Superman movie, and there was even a lookalike Man of Steel there, in the suit and everything. Nora and Dan stood on the stoop, greeting everyone, or at least that’s how I remember it. That was the last time I saw her in person until the event several months ago. So no, my chances for being her friend evidently weren’t in the cards.
Is it a question of mortality that keeps bringing me to tears? Perhaps a little, but mostly it’s the stories, the stories, the stories so many of her women friends and admirers are telling everywhere online. What a champion for us all she was! And now all these stories and articles are a great reminder. So I decided to do something to empower another woman.
Here I was on a layover at the damn Providence bus station again yesterday, and I sat down on a bench near a bent-over old lady, thinking I’d chat her up and be nice. Then I noted she was very busy scratching off a bunch of lottery tickets. She couldn’t have cared less about me…until she was unsure about one of her cards.
“Does this say I won $9?” she asked me. I studied it. “Yes, I think it does!” I said, and off she scuttled to collect. When she returned, I told her that I, too, often bought lottery tickets here – the only place I ever bought them. “I’ll just bet you’re my good luck charm, “ I told her, and went off to slip some dollar bills into the machine. I returned with two $1 cards, and held them out. “Maybe we’ll both get rich,” I said. “I bought one for each of us – you choose.” She did not demur for even a second, practically snatching it out of my hand.
Here was my thinking: What if this little act of kindness got some actual dough for this old woman? What if it was so big, it changed her life? It was such a tiny thing, but it was purposely a woman thing, and I had Nora in mind.
Now she’s scratching furiously, and as they make an announcement to reboard, she looks up and spies the new driver getting on the bus, the second woman of the day.
“Pffft,” she spits. “Another woman driver.”
I am shocked. “Wait. What? That’s great, don’t you think? They never used to have woman drivers here.”
“I don’t trust them,” she states grimly. “Gimme a man driver anytime.”
And just like that, my paean to Nora Ephron went up in smoke.
So, I’m off to find an ambitious woman on Kickstarter and lay a few bucks on her instead. Because I still believe:
Sisterhood Is Powerful.