arts & entertainment Books
NORA EPHRON IS a prolific writer who’s
best known for screenplays such as When
Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle and Julie
and Julia. She’s also had several collections of
essays published, including I Feel Bad About
My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a
Woman (Vintage, 2008). Her latest collection
of essays, I Remember Nothing: And Other
Reflections, offers her trademark take on
memory (or lack thereof), her childhood and
much more. The following excerpt takes a
wry and wistful look at getting older.
—Stephanie E. Ponder
The O Word
I am sixty-nine years old.
I’m not really old, of course.
Really old is eighty.
But if you are young, you would definitely
think that I’m old.
No one actually likes to admit that
The most they will cop to is that they’re
older. Or oldish.
In these days of physical fitness, hair dye,
and plastic surgery, you can live much of your
life without feeling or even looking old.
But then one day, your knee goes, or your
shoulder, or your back, or your hip. Your hot
flashes come to an end; things droop. Spots
appear. Your cleavage looks like a peach pit. If
your elbows faced forward, you would kill
yourself. You’re two inches shorter than you
used to be. You’re ten pounds fatter and you
cannot lose a pound of it to save your soul.
Your hands don’t work as well as they once did
and you can’t open bottles, jars, wrappers, and
especially those gadgets that are encased tightly
in what seems to be molded Mylar. If you were
stranded on a desert island and your food were
sealed in plastic packaging, you would starve to
death. You take so many pills in the morning
you don’t have room for breakfast.
Once a month there’s a funeral. You lose
close friends and discover one of the worst
truths of old age: they’re irreplaceable. People
who run four miles a day and eat only nuts
and berries drop dead. People who drink a
quart of whiskey and smoke two packs of
cigarettes a day drop dead. You are suddenly in a lottery, the ultimate game of
chance, and someday your luck will run
out. Everybody dies. There’s nothing
you can do about it.
Whether or not you eat six
almonds a day. Whether or not you
believe in God.
At some point I will be not just
old, older, or oldish—I will be
The Costco Connection
I Remember Nothing is available in most
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NOVEMBER 2010 ;e Costco Connection 47
really old. I will be actively impaired by age:
something will make it impossible for me to
read, or speak, or hear what’s being said, or
eat what I want, or walk around the block.
My memory, which I can still make jokes
about, will be so dim that I will have to pretend I know what’s going on.
The realization that I may have only a
few good years remaining has hit me with
real force, and I have done a lot of thinking as
a result. I would like to have come up with
something profound, but I haven’t. I try to
figure out what I really want to do every day,
I try to say to myself, “If this is one of the last
days of my life, am I doing exactly what I
want to be doing?” I aim low. My idea of a
perfect day is a frozen custard at Shake Shack
and a walk in the park. (Followed by a
Lactaid.) My idea of a perfect night is a good
play and dinner at Orso. (But no garlic, or I
won’t be able to sleep.)
We used to go to our house on Long
Island every summer. In mid-July, the geese
would turn up. They would fly overhead in
formation, their wings beating the air in a
series of heart-stopping whooshes. I was
elated by the sound.
In time, of course, the kids grew up and it
was just me and Nick in the house on Long
Now we don’t go to Long Island
in the summer and I don’t hear the
geese. Sometimes, instead, we go to
stopped liking the geese. In
Los Angeles, where there are hum-
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