Nora Ephron, the journalist, playwright, director, producer and actress passed away last week after a years-long battle with leukemia. She was 71. The disease never got the better of her until almost the very end. She leaves behind a legacy of best-selling books, sparkling films and priceless advice.
Nora, through her ongoing artistic commentary on the romantic zeitgeist, succeeded in imparting lessons and igniting debates on the state of love and relationships.
She shook our conceptions to the core and left us uncomfortably aware of how truly clueless we were about the opposite sex.
The popularity of her works helped expand the ranks of the generation of 'relationship experts,' myself included. Norah's signature musings concerned the viability, or lack thereof, of male/female friendships. "Heartburn" and "When Harry Met Sally," arguably breakthrough works in the genre, concretised her views on these matters.
Any Ephron loyalist or person in their right mind would know, without a glimmer of doubt, that men and women cannot be friends, at least not without benefits. They can fulfill a host of other respectable and necessary functions in each others lives, including competitive colleagues, casual acquaintances, friendly neighbours, passionate lovers and even passionate enemies- but a friendship cannot honestly exist between men and women. Friendship, like marriage, is based on companionship. It also demands a certain level of emotional intimacy that surpasses the realm of what is appropriate between men and women.
Women and men seek out friends for different purposes, another reason why they can't actually be "friends." When he wants to speak of football and she needs advice choosing a complimentary nail color, the only common ground is sex. When a woman is upset, the physical proximity required to comfort her - be it a shoulder to lean on or a warm embrace - is simply a gateway to sex.
This deluded notion of friendship between men and women could have only been conceived by women themselves; or naive adolescent girls rather, who had not the foggiest insight on the male psyche. A sign of true adult maturity is the acceptance of the fact that men have a single invasive preoccupation: and it is sec.
Harry Burns, the hero of "When Harry Met Sally," removed any doubt of Ephron's positionwith his words of wisdom. He said "of course men and women can't be friends... sex always gets in the way." The sexually charged nature of male/female relationships is part of their predetermined evolutionary destiny. Men and women were not created as complimentary beings to advise on chocolate chip cookie recipes. They were created to have sex! (Procreate, to be unattractively technical.)
So, please, next time you think yourself clever for throwing around the "we're just friends" line- remember, you can't outsmart biology, and you certainly couldn't outsmart Nora... Nora had a knack for words and for humor. She would call "your friend" by his real name: Your future third husband!