Respect

Olivia Wilde Is A Genius

Or: The Salad Dressing Recipe Heard ‘Round The World

The story was a simple photograph of a page from a novel. There was no annotation, no highlighting, no caption, nary an emoji.

The text began:

Because if I tell the story, I can make you laugh, and I would rather have you laugh at me than feel sorry for me.

Because if I tell the story, it doesn’t hurt as much.

Because if I tell the story, I can get on with it.

So starts the page, and so starts this masterclass in the use of social media by Olivia Wilde, 38, mom of two, former wife of Ted Lasso, and the main character of everyone’s favorite scandal du jour, who with this one page of a novel posted to her Instagram story abruptly shifted the sands of public opinion, at least in the demographic of middle aged women who love Nora Ephron (a significant one).

Where just yesterday we, it must be confessed, found ourselves doubting Wilde’s maternal bona fides, or at least her professional ones, now, in group chats heard round the world, she is being declared an icon. (“Savage!” “Scream omg.” “Hoooooly.”)

The drama, of course, has everything: celebrity nanny gossip (is there anything more guiltily compelling?!), a gorgeous older woman with the gorgeous younger man of our collective dreams maybe-cheating scandal, and even a joint statement with the truly impeccable use of the word scurrilous! But most germane to our point today is this little tale of salad dressing embedded in the gorgeously Daily Mail-esque Daily Mail “expose” allegedly starring Olivia and Ted Lasso’s ex-nanny.

“She made this salad and she made her special dressing and she's leaving with her salad to have dinner with [Harry Styles],” reads one of Ted Lasso’s (alleged) texts to said star nanny, reprinted with trademark finesse by the Mail.

And then, a follow-up text to the nanny expresses shock that Olivia has left the home and kids behind, in the most outrageous manner:

“Took her salad, and dressing, and left them.” [Emphasis mine!]

!!!

“I said, what salad dressing?” the nanny reportedly told the Mail. “He said: ‘She has a special salad dressing she makes for us and she's taken it to have it with [HARRY STYLES!!!!] now.’”

And then, the nanny adds, perfectly: “I don't know what was in it.”

There’s more, including the nanny’s dutiful reporting that after this salad dressing situation, Ted Lasso “went outside and lay under [Olivia’s] car so she wouldn't leave.”

I mean — it’s all extremely sad! Terrible! There is (alleged) sobbing and drunk texting, much messiness, heartbreak, and a couple of at least perplexed children. Honestly, it all very much began to interfere with our delighted musings over Olivia Wilde’s hot mom summer.

And now, less than two days after the Mail article went live, with one simple Instagram story, Olivia has both satisfied our collective burning curiosity — “but what is in Oliva Wilde’s special salad dressing recipe?!” sighed the earth and the wind for an entire 36-hour news cycle — and managed to smoothly tell us that the ex-husband in her story is kind of an enormous baby.

“She’s making her special salad dressing for Harry!” cried Ted Lasso to the nanny. Oh no, we all recoiled! The betrayal! And then, even worse thoughts began to creep into our disloyal minds… Can’t Harry make his own damn salad dressing, we wondered. Unbidden, unpleasant visions of Olivia’s childlike boyfriend rolling up his cardigan sleeves to eat a non-dry pile of cut-up lettuce from a special spill-proof lunch container once reserved for Olivia’s actual child danced through our heads.

“This is even better than watermelon with sugar,” the little vision cried, and we wondered dolefully if we’d ever be able to hear “you'd be the spoon, dip you in honey so I could be sticking to you” quite the same way again.

For, surely this special salad dressing must comprise some magical assortment of ingredients … require much mixing, maybe even a special jar for shaking and emulsifying … perhaps an impossible-to-find truffle is needed? It must be very special, we keened, imagining Ted Lasso watching this horror unfold in his kitchen, his eyes growing enormous with the shock and betrayal.

Mix 2 tablespoons Grey Poupon mustard with 2 tablespoons good red wine vinegar. Then, whisking constantly with a fork, slowly add 6 table-spoons olive oil, until the vinaigrette is thick and creamy; this makes a very strong vinaigrette that's perfect for salad greens like arugola and watercress and endive.

But now we know the truth. It’s literally the most basic fucking vinaigrette recipe. There are three (3) ingredients. It’s SALAD DRESSING. It’s all our salad dressing!

In an instant, the harrowing vision we had of poor Ted Lasso throwing himself in front of (behind?) his wife’s car to prevent her from driving off to the biggest mistake of her life snapped back into focus, allowing us to see what a giant and bizarre overreaction that would be, if indeed it actually occurred.

Dreaming of salad dressing, no doubt.TIZIANA FABI/AFP via Getty Images

But even more brilliant: this simple vinaigrette, Wilde has suggested, is of impeccable provenance.

It’s Nora Ephron’s recipe.

And not just that: Nora Ephron's recipe from Heartburn, the novel based on Ephron’s own experience of being cheated by her famous husband on whilst seven months pregnant, which if you haven't read, you must hang up right now and do.

It is as if Wilde is telling us: “First of all, my ex is the kind of man who is impressed by fucking vinaigrette. Yes, obviously, I do have the special skill required to ‘whisk constantly with a fork’ until it reaches the perfect consistency, but whomst amongst us working moms cannoteth?” (“We all can!” we cry in response. “So could any man-baby husband if he just tried!”)

“And second of all, my fellow moms juggling work and marriage amiright, I’m sure I don’t need to remind you, my fellow Nora Ephron devotees, things are never as simple as they seem.”

They are not! Never!

Suddenly we recall Wilde’s (alleged) text to the nanny about accidentally staying in a hotel that doesn’t allow children. Suddenly that is “so weird!” Ha ha! Maybe even… relatable? Actually, we can totally see that happening to us!

Because if I tell the story, I can make you laugh, and I would rather have you laugh at me than feel sorry for me.

Because if I tell the story, it doesn’t hurt as much.

Because if I tell the story, I can get on with it.

And that's her job, isn't it? A job she does, it must be said, very well.