by Chrysa Smith

AllergistsWife-fullI thought I made a mistake.

The opening act of ‘Tales of the Allergist’s Wife’ featured the aging wife of a physician draped over a couch with a box of tissues. She was having a crisis. And as I sheepishly looked over at my husband’s face (a husband who enjoys musicals), I thought he might be too.

Oh no, I thought. Is this going to be one of those dark, depressing shows? I could get a dose of that in real life—don’t need to pay good money for it. But as the story unfolded, the message became clear. And I think it was that the grass is always greener.

Marsha Mason (remember her from Goodbye Girl?) plays the lead, looking at her life with regret–as do many of us who might have given up career for family, were afraid to take a chance or couldn’t because of obligations. It’s easy to be the Monday-morning quarterback, after all. The path is always obstacle-free from behind. But as life unfolds, we take our hand and try to play it well—as she did.

Modern day living often involves crises of identity. Who am I now that I’m no longer a stay-at-home mom, the executive? We can wallow in our own self pity until we get tired of our self-loathing—or something pops into our lives and awakens us. And that is exactly what happened.

Marilu Henner (remember her from Taxi?) enters stage left—an old friend from younger days. They pick right up from where they left off, and before long, Mason heads out on all type of adventures—at least so the Allergist thought. But Henner’s character was just too accomplished to be true. Friends with movie stars? Trips to exotic places? Lovers worth dropping a name for? Before long, the allergist realizes that perhaps this phantom friend, whom he never sees, ia actually a figment of her needy imagination. Well, at least until she appeared one day and planted one amorous kiss right smack on his lips. Hmm, a conundrum for Mason. But still having the time of her life, she even minimizes that act for fear of losing a friend that lifted her out of the duldrums.

In the end, as often happens, the grass isn’t quite as green as it appears. It’s often parched, full of weeds and thatch. And Mason finds out that Henner’s life is not at all what it appears. Alone and without a home, Mason finally realizes that when push comes to shove, she had something that meant more than name-dropping, grand adventures and sensational stories. She had a good family—making her tale one that might have started out a little grim, but ended happily ever after—-after all.

If it comes to your town, it’s worth a view. It’s a lesson worth relearning again and again.