Diary Entry

I’ll Have What She’s…

How many readers still know how to finish the sentence? Or that “I’ll Have What She’s Having” found instant fame in Nora Ephron’s 1989 witty movie When Harry Met Sally? I wonder whether the editors at the New York Times assumed its readers would get the reference behind “I’ll Have What She’s Thinking”– the headline announcing the somewhat surprising and altogether fascinating report on women’s capacity for spontaneous orgasm via the brain.

2013-10-01 17.09.53Neuroscientists at Rutgers University have been able to document by brain scans that women can reach orgasm just by thinking! It’s not clear what exactly they are thinking about—I wish I knew—but the subject matter appears to be erotic fantasies that cause the pleasure centers of the brain to light up. Dr. Gina Ogden, who researched the topic for her doctorate at the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in the 1970s, praised the new study: “If we just notice what’s around—notice what people are doing and saying and feeling—we can do a better job.” That’s just what happened in the restaurant scene in the movie When Harry Met Sally–somebody noticed.

To win an argument she is having with a skeptical Harry (Billy Crystal),  Sally (Meg Ryan) demonstrates that it’s easy for a woman to fake orgasm. She vividly fakes one herself without leaving the table, and then calmly resumes eating her salad. At that point, an older woman  (played by director Rob Reiner’s mother) seated at another table, who has been watching the performance, says to the server in Katz’s deli waiting for her order: “I’ll have what she’s having.” (Billy Crystal, Harry, is credited with coming up with the line.)

The graphic illustrating the article encloses the woman’s rather sinister “thinking” head under a bell jar (pace Sylvia Plath), but even the bell jar (stand-in for the scanner, presumably) can’t take away from the excitement generated by the report.

Now, if we only knew what she was having…

Hold that thought.


Nancy K. Miller. Diary

Welcome. Some musings on my current preoccupations with the worlds of illness and the worlds of books, the vicissitudes of living with cancer and the need now, in my eighties, to imagine what new writing might be. 

View Diary posts related to the My Multifocal Life project.