Nuts: Here for It, #317

Hi! It's R. Eric Thomas. From the internet?

I started seeing a new ENT because I've been having some problems with, y'know, breathing. I saw an ENT about a decade ago and got what is officially referred to on my medical records as "sinus surgery." Every time I try to find out more information about what exactly went on, my insurance is like "they surgered your sinuses, chap. Ain't nothin' more to say about it." My insurance agent is an old timey doctor who was run out of his practice in Kansas City for drinking too much giggle water and now has set up a leeching practice in an old west town. But he responds very promptly to emails.

My first ENT was handsome in a movie doctor kind of way--tall and Scandinavian and, well, that's all I really remember but you get it. You've seen movies. My current ENT is handsome in a TV doctor kind of way--friendly and funny and seems like he wants to be my friend, which is the only qualification I have for medical professionals. Or any professional, really. (Just in case one or both of my ENTs is reading this, I want to make clear that I am not making a value judgment on handsomeness vis-a-vis TV-versus-movies. You're both beautiful! Be my friend!)

My new ENT has prescribed various tinctures and spells to get my sinuses less--what's the technical term?--wonky. One of the things he prescribed was an allergy test to determine if there was anything in my environment that was making me sick. I've had allergy testing before as a chronically sniffly child. I've also been aware of a life-threatening allergy to tree nuts for most of my time on Earth. (A fun fact about me is that I had a near-death experience as a result of accidentally eating a banana nut muffin in the Opryland Hotel in 1997 and somehow that has not made it into either of the memoirs I wrote. Maybe next time, nuts!)

I was excited to find out if there were any more things in the world that are out to get me and then to purposefully avoid writing about them in books about my life. So I went to the allergist. The allergist (also handsome; just want everyone to feel good about themselves) had a delivery that can best be described as "bored with me." I am always fascinated by people who don't energy match. I am not always at a Kristen Chenoweth-level of enthusiasm but I do tend to revert to social pleasantries (for better or worse) and so I'm obsessed with people who are like "Ah, I see what you're bringing into the room and I'd like to counter with... nothing." It's like that video of Whitney and Brandy practicing for Cinderella and Brandy is a whole octave down from Whitney and Whitney is like "WHY ARE YOU DOWN THERE?"

The allergist, Brandy Norwood, was wearing track pants and an Under Armor t-shirt which I thought was fascinatingly casual. It's like they called him in the middle of a workout and asked him to do this scheduled, non-emergency, standard allergy test. He was just jogging when the nurse paged him and was like "Doctor! This guy who is fairly certain that he knows all of his allergies is here for a routine test" and he was like "Say no more, I'm on my way!" And he turned around right there in Central Park and ran all the way to the office, which is incredible because this office was in Philadelphia.

So, they run the test and it comes back as expected: allergy to ragweed, dust, and... some nuts. This last part was a surprise. Laconically, Brandy Norwood tells me I have an allergy to walnuts and cashews but not pistachios or one other kind of nut which I've already forgotten.

I was like "Television's Brandy Norwood, can I cashew a question? Cuz I was almond sure that I couldn't have any nuts. Now, I am but a simple lay person and you are a person with degrees, a member of the macadamia, so I don't doubt all pistachio say. But pecan it be true?"

The allergist was like "How hard did you work on that monologue?" And I was like "This newsletter is a week late because of it."

And then the allergist, with maximum ambivalence, asked "So, do you want to eat a pistachio?"

And, beloveds, I have been in crisis ever since. The allergist said I shouldn't just go home and start chomping. But we could schedule a time for me to come in and nibble on a pistachio and then they'd watch me to see if I die. And while that sounds like a great way to get my insurance company to pay for lunch, I don't actually know what the flavor of pistachios is so this whole thing becomes more a question of taste. Like, do I actually want a pistachio?! What if I eat one and I don't die but instead I'm like "yuck"? And I still have to pay my copay?! Everyone I've talked to about this (which is literally everyone) has said "Oh, pistachios are so good." But, like, the world is full of liars, Brandies, Whitneys, and handsome ENTs. Who will Nutella me the truth?!

Would you allow a moment of sincerity?

Today, February 25th, I have three productions of plays running at the same time. One in Buffalo, NY, one in Indianapolis, IN, and one, playing its closing performance in Souderton, PA. This has never happened to me before. Having one production is a miracle. Having more than one is a shock. I feel incredibly lucky and grateful to be able to be in community with so many talented artists and to be held by all these different theater communities. This has been, I'm going to be honest, a really rough couple of months professionally. I feel, like my sinuses, not great and possibly broken and in need of attention from someone with the charisma of a young George Clooney.

But I had the opportunity to go to Indiana this week and work on their production of The Folks at Home while also keeping tabs on the other two runs and it really has been a light in the darkness. It's weird but not unheard of to be doing the things I think I should be doing, career-wise, and also feeling like a failure. But the magic of theater is that it goes away at the end of every night and then you create it again the next time the curtain rises. And the message of The Folks at Home is that even when you're feeling lost, staying in the room with people who believe in you and in your dream, can get you through. Anyway, thanks for being in the room with me. Please enjoy a couple of the lovely production photos; click through to see them on IG. More to come here next week when I am not writing on a train, tempting fate and satellite power.

See a play! Specifically one of these!

The Folks at Home - Alleyway Theater in Buffalo, NY - February 9-March 2 - More info

The Folks at Home - Indiana Repertory Theatre in Indianapolis, IN - February 20 - March 16 - More info

An Army of Lovers - Azuka Theater in Philadelphia - May 2-19 - More info (ALL TICKETS ARE PAY WHAT YOU WISH, AFTER THE SHOW! You can get tickets today for free!)

Television's Brandy Norwood, can I cashew a question?,