Nora Ephron’s I Feel Bad About My Neck and Other Thoughts on Being a Woman was part of my summer reading extravaganza. Nora, amongst many other things, is the screenwriter of Sleepless in Seattle and When Harry Met Sally and for a brief moment in time she was married to American journalist Bob Woodward.
Nora is funny. And she writes comfortably about the uncomfortable topic of women and aging. As a woman in that demographic I’m aware of the neck, the midriff and the hair. But the essay that killed me the most and made me feel that perhaps Nora and I, in another lifetime could be comrades in arms, was her piece on handbags. The essay is called “I Hate My Purse”.
We all know who we are when it comes to purses. A long time ago I gave up on the idea that I could fit whatever I needed in a tiny, well maintained, minimalist handbag.
In fact, I gave up when I asked my husband to buy me the biggest handbag he could possibly find for Christmas. And he did. And it’s huge. I spent 5 minutes thinking “I’ll put this here, that there and this here. Perfect. It will always be so and I’ll always find everything.” Evidently I didn’t know myself very well.
Nora , like myself, has everything in that handbag needed for every possible situation. We’ll begin with earplugs which fell out of the makeup bag which for unknown reasons can never be zipped closed. The earplugs can be found at the bottom of the bag filled with hair and pencil shavings. The pencil shavings come from the pencil and sharpener I keep on hand at all times in the event I need to write something with a pencil and then subsequently the pencil requires sharpening which means I need to have the sharpener. I can also find multiple lipsticks mostly without lids, often with pencil shavings in them with hair nicely embedded in the remaining lipstick.
Phone paraphernalia is always in separate compartments. Phone is in one, headset in another and cord in another. I have three hair brushes mostly because I can’t find them and so I keep throwing them in my bag. I have a hair straightener with me at all times because my hair is a shrill mess. I have a wallet that also serves as a small handbag. And of course, I have running shoes because you never know when you need to break out into a gallop (like today when I went to help a dog and its owner in distress). And of course an umbrella and a raincoat because I live in a rainforest. And I always have leftover airplane snack food that’s kept on hand (if I can find it) for emergency snacking, like if there’s an earthquake. Which brings me to the water bottle I also carry with me at all times. Again in multiples of at least two because as I mentioned I often can’t find things.
I haven’t even gotten to my lunch or my sporting gear which requires a whole other bag.
So yes, I liked this book. It made me laugh and at least for that chapter I felt there was a kindred spirit in the world. Nora also lived in New York which for me is a bit of a fantasy city. If only I had gone to New York instead of Vancouver when I left Toronto. Sometimes I like to waste time thinking about what if’s like that. She also likes to cook which is another thing I like about her and which she writes about with a great deal of humour. So ya, ladies, if you’re looking for a light read, this could be the book for you.