Last night, I hit the town with a group of my girlfriends, a fabulous group of eleven women, ranging in age from late twenties to sixties. We started at a Mexican restaurant recommended by one of our group. You really can't go wrong when you start your evening with chips and salsa and margaritas.
The service at the restaurant was oddly slow. Usually, Mexican restaurants are really fast, but we waited almost 45 minutes for our food. I'm not sure if it was a ploy to get us to order more drinks, but if it was, it was effective. Thankfully, we were very close the the Opera House because we arrived right at curtain. The show? Menopause the Musical.
I had heard from several sources that the show was funny, and it was. The slow service (and subsequent additional margaritas) at the restaurant greased the wheels, and everybody laughed. I noticed something interesting, though. Those of our group who had already reached menopause howled...and I mean howled with laughter. Those of us who weren't there yet...not so much.
The show begins when four women meet at a bra sale at Bloomingdale's in New York. "The Professional Woman," "the Earth Mother," "the Iowa Housewife," and "the Soap Star" are in the throes of menopause. They spend the day together at Bloomingdales celebrating the change of life in song. A good bit of the humor came from the songs, parodies of hits from the sixties and seventies. For example, the opening song was "Change of Life" done to the tune of "Chain of Fools." My favorite parody was "Puff, My God I'm Draggin'."
Honestly, while clever, the first two-thirds of the show depressed the hell out of me. The women sang tributes to hot flashes, night sweats, weight gain, wild mood swings, Prozac, and being replaced by younger women.
At one point, I looked at my friend Stephanie and said, "This is what we have to look forward to?"
And while I was thinking, "WTF. This isn't really that funny," the older women in the audience were laughing hysterically, until they had tears rolling down their cheeks. I guess it's one of those things where having survived something gives you a sense of humor about it. Teachers often laugh about things other people wouldn't find funny at all. So I kind of get that.
My discomfort probably says something about my own fear of aging. I'm still a few years shy of menopause, but it looms on the horizon closer than it used to. I like to think I'm comfortable with my age. I see the accumulation of years as accumulation of wisdom and experience. But for a while last night what I saw was a future where I physically fall apart. I was very motivated to get up this morning and go to Jazzercise. Thank goodness that's not where the show ends.
The last part of the show is a celebration of womanhood, and I liked that. One particular scene in which the housewife bemoans her husband's waning desire and the other women clue her in to "Good Vibrations" was fall in the floor funny. The actress wielded her pink microphone with comedic genius. Stephanie, whose grandmother was sitting two seats down, was mortified...which made me laugh even harder.
My personal aging issues aside, I would recommend the show. There were moments we could all identify with regardless of age. The Earth Mother's continual struggle for zen was both funny and familiar. The fact that each of the four women had labels instead of names was interesting. The tension between the archetypal behavior expected of them and their actions was pointedly funny. Sometimes it's hard to live up to the labels we carry.
In the end, if I have to think about the fact that in the not-too-distant future I'm apparently going to come apart at the seams, I want to do it with a group of smart, fabulous, funny women. I also recommend a couple of margaritas to soften the blow.