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Nora Ephron

By Susan Harrow, Media Coach & Author of Sell Yourself Without Selling Your Soul

Nora Ephron had an uncanny way of answering super serious questions with her trademark humor. People often looked to her to be deep. And sometimes humor  can be discounted as surface or superficial. But it wasn’t in her hands. Like the time she was asked for the best advice to keep love alive and she said, “Separate bathrooms.” I wonder how many marriages have been saved by that wisdom?

I recently heard a 2010 interview with her discussing her work and she said, “We all love to play that game, ‘What is your last meal’, but the truth is, my oldest friend who died, whom I’ve written about, got tongue cancer, and said to me, I’m not even going to be able to have my last meal.’ And the truth is none of us are going to be able to have our last meal because either we’ll be too sick to eat it, or we won’t know it’s our last meal. And we will make the mistake of having had a tuna melt.”

The interviewer asked her, “So is the lesson from that never have a tuna melt?”

“No”, Ephron said. “The lesson is have your last meal this weekend and have it all the time, because you know….” The audience applauded.

She took the banalities that we’ve all heard a thousand times, “Live in the moment” or “Live like today is your last day” and created a story of originality with specific details – her friend with tongue cancer. The tuna melt. This makes her stories come alive and make us think differently.

The next time you’re asked for your advice and are tempted to say, “Don’t give up.” Or, “Do something different.” Or, “Show your vulnerability.” Chuck that. Follow the footsteps of Nora Ephron and think about turning an old truth into a new phrase that will make us laugh and remember. Thanks for the Tuna Melt Nora.