To this day I’ve never seen “Sleepless in Seattle” or “When Harry Met Sally” or any of Nora Ephron’s other films, save for “You’ve Got Mail,” which was unforgivably terrible and made me want to spew green bile everywhere. But I will always love Nora Ephron for an essay I read my senior year of college. The essay was “A Few Words About Breasts.”
I loved it and after I found out she died last night, I read it again and I loved it even more. I loved it for the same reason that readers of “Esquire,” an unrepentant MEN’s magazine, loved it. It was so completely honest and vulnerable and (without being sexist, patriarchal or patronizing) adorable.
I fell in love with Nora. I fell in love with her insecurity, her brazeness (which isn’t a word, but should be), her wit and her intelligence. There’s something special about writing that allows you to see into someone’s soul and into their head that no other art form has and Nora was a master of it. I’ve been a fan since the moment I finished reading the essay for the second time and my heart sort of sank last night hearing that she died.
Of all the women I’ve loved and never met (Angela Davis, Gloria Steinem, Nina Persson, Nora Ephron, that’s it) I may have loved Nora best.
If you haven’t ever read it, take a moment to read "A Few Words About Breasts." It will be, without question, the best thing you do today. After I read the piece, in college, I wrote my own response for my Personal Essay course. It got an ‘A’. It’s not nearly as good as hers and it’s actually kind of dumb, but it’s all I have to offer in the way of an elegy.
"With Apologies to Nora Ephron"
I truly detest the word boobs. It’s probably one of – if not my least – favorite words. I can’t stand it. It’s just such an ugly word.
I mean if you can think of an uglier word then by all means tell me, but I certainly can’t. The word repugnant is probably uglier than boobs, but repugnant is a spectacular word because it means repugnant. There is probably not a more prima fascia repugnant word in the universe than repugnant, which is exactly what makes it so extraordinary.
But the word boobs is an extraordinarily ugly word for a beautiful thing. I love breasts. The word breasts is kind of a funny word when said aloud (honestly, say it out loud, breasts) but that’s just because of the location of the esses, and any word with esses separated by a single consonant sounds strange (chests, vests, crests..etc. ad nauseam). The word boobs, however, is just ugly.
It’s ugly no matter how you look it at. On its face: boobs. Anyone that can honestly look at that word for its calligraphy value and not say it’s horrendously ugly should have their head examined. It’s ugly to say and it’s ugly to hear. Anytime I hear some girl talk about boobs, or even more disturbingly her singular boob, it’s like someone hit me in the genitals with a baseball bat. Even the word genitals is more appealing than boobs.
I’ve hated the word for a long time. I think it was truly ruined for me when a friend of my tenth grade girlfriend repeated it over and over again until I really got to thinking about it. Boobs. It’s just so very unattractive. It’s unattractive to hear, unattractive to say, unattractive to write and unattractive to read. Boobs.
I love women’s breasts. I’ve been an aficionado since I was 12 and my friend Michael scored us a copy of Juggs magazine, but I’ve always hated hearing people call them boobs. Tits, knockers, fun bags, melons, honkers, hooters, bazongas, chi chis, anything is better than saying boobs. You can’t truly appreciate a nice set of boobs. Boobs sounds like something you wipe off your shoe when you’ve been out in the rain too long, or something gunky you find underneath your bed when you haven’t cleaned you room in a long time.
Boobs don’t sound like the beautiful things that they are. Boobs don’t sound like the parts of the body that give sustenance to a newborn infant or the best accessories to that new dress you just bought. Boobs? Boobs can’t make a woman or change a man’s heart. Boobs?
Where did this word come from? I’ve been hoping and praying in vain for ages that someday people will realize how absolutely profane the word is, but so far to no avail. I mean, really, boobs? Have you ever heard anything quite so stupid?