Too many Mary Kate & Ashley VHS tapes and too few accidental early screenings of KIDS, perhaps, but the fallout from my lack of basement viewing knowledge manifests itself in a few ways: A movie collection of used, discounted Blockbuster DVDs I scurried to purchase before college to seem normal. That Al Pacino's entire career is a black hole to me. And, how I didn't completely know who Nora Ephron was while watching her earliest movie at BAM a few months ago, sitting in the very auditorium that I just read Lena Dunham reference in that New Yorker essay about her mentor, confidant and friend.
I sat alone (fucking trains to Brooklyn never running correctly), transfixed by both the film and the discussion of her being so real about how fucked up it was and still is to be a woman creating anything besides a child. I didn't realize what would be most memorable about that night wasn't the mental note to always leave forty minutes before a ticketed event in Brooklyn and to pack a magazine while you're at it, but that we'd actually witnessed a bit of history and a moment that was special to someone beyond those of us in the crowd.
Having saved mental notes for most films I have not seen like an alien attempting to assimilate, I know Sleepless In Seattle is the one with the amnesia and When Harry Met Sally is the one with the pastrami orgasm, but to know so little about the wonderful woman behind them both seems to be a greater gaffe than not having seen either.
I still can't completely grasp the whole entity that is Nora Ephron, but I'm learning. Learning that the best page of Real Simple magazine I've ever seen is from the same woman who managed to see Steve Wynn accidentally destroy a Picasso and keep it a secret, whose young life revolved around recipes, who called out the rest of Hollywood in the snarkiest and classiest way possible that night. Unsurprisingly, that magazine page has just two things on it: a photograph of a restaurant mural of a large shark, and this quote of hers below it:
A quote, a plainly hilarious one at that, which I'm learning much too late and far too slowly was not a shining moment of dialogue but a speck of the tiniest bit of brilliance that shone through everything she touched. Tacked up and yellowing on the wall for the past year in the place where I make my meals and eat my feelings, it's no longer an amusing quote thrown on a kitchen cork wall full of wine receipts and lasagna recipes. It's a reminder of how refreshing it is to see someone speak so honestly about something so simple; a testament to being true to yourself and your thoughts, no matter how flippant and far from poignant they may seem at the time.
I never knew about Nora, I never knew her work, and I sadly never knew how smart of a writer she was. But, while I still don't know her at all and never will, I just really, really hope it's not too late to try.