“The amount of maintenance involving hair is genuinely overwhelming. Sometimes I think that not having to worry about your hair anymore is the secret upside of death.”
The death of Nora Ephron shocked me. How could someone so alive leave us? Yes, I felt it as a personal loss. For a brief moment in my life she was my friend. I recall our time together clearly. Permit me to recount it.
My first job was in a bookstore. The store was called Martindale’s after dear old Mr. Martindale, who along with his store in West Los Angeles is long gone. I must have been in Junior High at the time and so could not have been more than fourteen. Nora was slightly younger.
It wasn’t “your ordinary first job.” To this day I can remember the smell of the new books and the distinctive scent they created in that relatively small space. Even then I somehow knew the books, or thought I did, knew their titles, and authors. I could tell people what they were about and, without much of effort, get them to buy the book, and then one or two others along the way. I have utterly no idea how I was able to do any of that, especially at that time in my life.
It was the young girl who worked along with me that made that summer so unforgettable. Her name was Nora, the clever, sprightly Nora, well known for her literary and cinematic wit. I fell madly in love with her that summer at Martindale’s. Those who know her may be aware she is slightly cross-eyed. What young man could resist that?
But Nora could talk. She was clever, funny and bright. She was the first person I could ever really talk to. There have only been one or two others, many years later. As I recall it now, Nora and I spent the entire time bantering and jesting with one another. It is a mystery how we managed to get anything done or sell any books, or remember to give the proper change to those well-healed customers.
I am sure she has no recollection of me or our “brief encounter” at Martindale’s bookstore or probably even working there. But every time I hear about her or see one of her films, I remember the summer of my very first job. Books, magazines, paperbacks, and the beautiful cross-eyed girl who talked with me.
I never thought much about it at the time; after all, I was scarcely a teenager. All I knew was that I was crazy about Nora, but that was about it. I went back to school after that summer and only many years later, when Nora became well known, did I recall out time together and only recently have I begun to appreciate its significance.
This is how I will always remember her. Not for her films or books, although they were no different than she was. But our time together at Martindale's, when we were just kids.