Mike Ward, of Marion, Ill., looks out over the Garden of the Gods Wilderness Area in the Shawnee National Forest last Friday in southern Illinois. Mike and I served together as Marine Corps reconnaissance scouts in the Vietnam War a long time ago. A much longer time ago – how about more than 320 million years ago? – rain and wind began to carve out the sandstone bluffs on which Mike is standing in this photograph. The Garden of the Gods covers more than 3,300 acres of the Shawnee and reaches into three counties – Hardin, Pope and Saline. Autumn is a great time to visit.
Nora Ephron was a wonderful writer, and I know I'm right about that.
Nora was born in 1941 and, sadly, the world lost her in 2012. In between, she reported news stories, wrote great stage plays and created entertaining feature films. I love a good Nora Ephron movie, even if it's a chick flick.
Can you guess my favorite Nora Ephron-movie moments? They include neither the hilarious line, "I'll have what she's having," spoken by Rob Reiner's mom, Estelle, nor the unexpected exclamation from Meryl Streep: "These damn things are hotter than a stiff cock!"
However, the two movies that generated those crazy quotes also contain the line or lines that I use everyday to get through my confused life: "You're right; you're right; I know you're right," and "I know; I know; you're right." Similar versions of those lines are sprinkled throughout Nora's scripts. That first quote was voiced by Carrie Fisher's character, Marie, in Nora's 1989 classic "When Harry Met Sally." The second emanated through the lips of Amy Adam's character, Julie, in 2009's "Julie and Julia." The films were produced two decades apart, but those same, basic lines work beautifully.
Now, in my own life, I repeat those lines everyday, usually to Anne, sometimes to friends, often to myself. I talk to myself a lot, and I often need to reassure myself that I am correct in thinking one way or another about something that seems important to me. There's probably not a lot of important stuff going on in my trivial existence, but please let me think there is. OK? At this late stage in my life, I need to feel warm and fuzzy as much as possible. So, I often say to me: "You're right; you're right; I know you're right."
Anne is probably tired of me saying it to her. ("I know; I know; you're right, baby doll.") She's probably starting to suspect that I repeat it to her so often just to appease her ego, to make her think that I think she's right about everything. Oof, really, I would not falsely glorify my respect for my spouse's knowledge and opinion. C'mon, people! You're not right; I know you're not right.
Sometimes people think they're right, and they're not, and it can cause a disparaging moment or scene. For example, last year, an optometrist at a local eye clinic examined my eyes and wrote me a new prescription. Then I compared prices for eyeglasses at three places, including the eye clinic, but chose one of the other places. When I picked up my glasses, I couldn't see well in one eye. It turned out that the prescription for that eye had been written incorrectly on the little prescription sheet that I had presented to the optical shop that would make my new glasses. I returned to the clinic and informed the manager upfront that my prescription was wrong, that it was missing a digit. I was told, rather indignantly, that such a thing could not be. Next, I said to myself: "You're wrong, lady; I know you're wrong." So, I asked her to please check my record. Indignantly, the manager checked, and, yes, she was wrong. I know; I know; I was right, and that woman refused to say she was sorry or even acknowledge in any way that she'd made a mistake.
Yes, our world has plenty of disrespectful belligerents who think they're always right but aren't, and I make an effort to avoid them. I try to surround myself with friendly, cordial, humble folk, who are pretty smart and well-informed, to whom I can smile and say: "You're right; you're right; I know you're right."
In many ways, my life is rather like a Nora Ephron movie. I'm a character who cooks, tries to jog or at least shuffle, makes ridiculous blunders, tries to write, is inadvertently humorous in his blunderings, and also likes e-mail and social media and even snail mail, especially postcards. I'm definitely not always right, but the few loved ones in my little sphere accept me that way, and that's right on, because they're always right; I know they're right.
Runners and walkers take off this morning at the start of the Annual City of the Sun 5K Run/Walk at Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site and World Heritage Site. The 5-kilometer course meandered around a few of the mounds, through bottomland forest and across open grassland. Sunny skies and cool temperatures, coupled with the beautiful scenery, made for an excellent morning trek. While I jogged some of the way, I probably spent more time walking and pointing my camera.
T.E. Griggs is a writer, editor and photographer and a retired U.S. Marine.