Nora Ephron was friends with everyone. After she died, there was an outpouring, both from people who sort of thought they were friends with Nora (of course I never met her, but I think I understood her soul; I think we *would* have been friends) and from nearly as many who were actually friends with her.
Impressive, interesting, funny women, young and old. They came forward to remember Nora, to celebrate her life and her wit and her talent. And they told the story of how they had met her. Lena Dunham, writing in The New Yorker, said: “In March of 2011, I received a short, perfect e-mail from Ephron, saying she had seen and enjoyed my film [Tiny Furniture] and would like to take me to lunch.”
That was the kind of friend-acquirer Nora Ephron was: she pinpointed women she thought were interesting and worth being friends with, and she asked them to lunch. Or, an apparently wonderful hostess, she invited them round. She gave them a call, or dropped them a line, or extended a hand. She made the first move. Nora Ephron was one of those people who collected friends. Of course, you might say, Nora Ephron was famous, so making the first friend move was easy. Nobody was going to reject a lunch date with Nora Ephron, were they?
Sure, but the thing is, Nora Ephron was doing this long before she was famous. In a new documentary, set to be shown on HBO next year, Nora Ephron’s first husband, the writer Dan Greenburg (loyal Nora Ephron wannabe-friends will of course immediately think of hamsters), reveals that she was doing this first-move-friending for years and years, long before she was famous.
What if I embodied Nora Ephron and became an ardent friend-acquirer? What’s the worst that can happen?
New York magazine reports that, “According to her first husband, writer Dan Greenburg, she used to approach celebrities at parties and say, ‘Hi, my name is Nora Ephron. If I invited you to dinner at my house, would you come?’ They always said yes. That's how she became friends with Joan Didion.”
Intimidatingly brilliant, amazingly talented, often scowling Joan Didion… Turns out all you needed to do was invite her over, and she’d thaw, or at least share a little bit of her wonderful frost with you… This is a bold approach to friend-making that will work way beyond celebrities and Joan Didion types. This is how you make friends as a grown-up.
As an editor, I receive lots and lots of pitches, and a depressing amount of them are to do with making friends as a grown-up, and how hard it is. New mums often talk about the joys of NCT classes, how nice it is to be introduced to a group of women who are going through a similar experience to you, how that’s sort of like school of university – but the rest of us can struggle to find a group of women who we can befriend in adulthood.
As a journalist, I go to events like book launches or fashion parties. Events that look glamorous from the outside but can be embarrassingly lonely. I often stand there, not knowing anybody well enough to be considered “properly friends” but recognising them from Twitter or their byline photos or whatever. I clap politely at the speech, then duck out. But what if, instead, I pinpointed the woman I admire from afar, and said, “Hi, my name is Lynn Enright. If I invited you to dinner at my house, would you come?” OK, maybe not dinner, or not always dinner, at least. But what if I took that tack, that bald and gutsy approach, and invited them for coffee or bought them a drink or simply told them I admired their work or their jokes or their shoes or whatever? What if I embodied Nora Ephron and became an ardent friend-acquirer? What’s the worst that can happen? Someone politely brushes you off? And the best? You become FRIENDS with JOAN DIDION. Worth a go…
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