As I sipped my Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray soda, I looked around. The place looked so familiar, yet I knew I had never been. When we had entered, my law school friend Todd, grabbed a ticket at the door to mark our place in line. Meanwhile, I both gazed at, and inhaled in, my surroundings. The deli looked quite old, like it had been around for at least a hundred years. Yet, the atmosphere was far from dead. It was as if the next to the words ‘hustle and bustle’ in the dictionary were pictures of this restaurant.
Todd ordered two pastrami sandwiches, letting me know it was a “must have.” As I bit into the most awesome sandwich that was clearly too large for me to consume in just one meal, I looked over, “Where are we, anyway?” “C’mon. You don’t know?” At that moment, despite the fact that both my parents were raised in New York City, I felt like a little Midwestern school girl. “No, should I?” “We are at Katz’ Delicatessen! Didn’t you see the movie, “When Harry Met Sally?” I smiled, and instantly tried to find the spot where Sally so famously broke the news (following up with a demonstration) to Harry that some women fake it. I couldn’t find the location until I realized we appeared to be seated at the very spot.
Recently, I had one of “those” weeks. I discovered that from sitting awkwardly on the train for hours while balancing my laptop on my legs, I provoked a bout of sciatica. And then, within days, the tooth I had recently had refilled began to ache terribly. A rash broke out on my bottom and legs, which may have been related to the sciatica or the result of a brush with my husband’s poison ivy-infected clothes from yard work. And then, I got my period. The entire experience left me feeling intensely uncomfortable on practically every physical level, and feeling sorry for myself. When people would ask, “Meg, how do you feel?” I would soak in the concern and let them know I was miserable. John says when I am not feeling well I am the worst patient. He’s right—I am not good at faking it.
And then, I opened the paper to read that Nora Ephron had died. As with many, I have been a huge fan. Not simply because of her amazing talents as a writer, essayist, humorist, wonderful wife, and mother to two boys. No, even when diagnosed with a fatal illness, Ms. Ephron also had the keen ability to always laugh at herself. Last October, channeling Ellen DeGeneres, I wrote a post called, “You Never Know What Funny Can Do.” There I stated, “The truth of that simple sentence struck me deeply. The ability to laugh at yourself is the key to helping others feel comfortable with you, no matter your difference.” As the week progressed, the eulogies for Ms. Ephron poured in and often had a common theme: Nora Ephron will be remembered because she made as much fun of herself as anyone else.
With respect to my two fingers and two toes, there is no question I have continued to poke fun at myself where possible. Just this week I mentioned on a conference call that I could get a memo out asap since I was the fastest two fingered typist this side of the Appalachians. Awkward silence often follows, but I don’t care. I readily laugh at myself when it comes to my condition. However, it occurs to me that I need to carry that humor to other life experiences that feel challenging. And so, in honor of Nora Ephron, I’ll update my prior theme: “The ability to laugh at yourself is the key to helping others feel comfortable with you, no matter your experience!”
What also caught my eye was that in Ms. Ephron’s final book, “I Remember Nothing: And Other Reflections,” she had a “What I Won’t Miss/What I Will Miss” list about things she would or would not miss on Earth. Here’s my variation on the theme:
Hiding my Difference: What I Will Miss
Flaunting My Difference: What I Will Miss
- Not caring if people stare
- Writing…with honesty and candor
- Being a role model for my kids
- All the unexpected and probably undeserved discounts and then being able to pay the savings forward
- Having people I regard as role models think of me as a role model
- Having the ability to laugh at myself…and mean it
- Having the ability to laugh at myself…and watch people visibly relax about my difference
- Trying new things without worrying how others are judging me
- Teaching people the message, “What You Think of Me is None of My Business!”
- Inspiring others to flaunt it, simply by being myself