I find it hard to believe that my favorite play by Wendy Wasserstein, “Uncommon Women and Others” was actually her very first. It’s so perfectly realized – so cleverly written. The play, in brief, is about a group of five friends, all graduates of Mount Holyoke College, all various ‘types’ but all determined to be “uncommon.” We see them twice- once before college graduation and once six years later. Although some have evolved in interesting ways, none have realized their collective ambition and some, it is clear, never will.
I’m happy to say I do know some women who are definitely uncommon- and I’ve met a great many of them since moving to the North Fork. Not that there aren’t remarkable North Fork men, but remarkable women just seem to be easier to find- they have a collective instinct that’s finely honed. Women like their friends to know one another. Take, for example, my friend Louisa Hargrave, who founded the first winery on the North Fork. She’s definitely an uncommon woman (though she went to Smith, not Mount Holyoke) and she’s introduced me to several other uncommon women in turn- like Paula Croteau, who teaches cooking classes, runs a winery and is writing a cookbook (while raising two children) in her spare time. I found my friend, the uncommon Paulette Satur (co-founder/farmer of Satur Farms) on my own, though she’s introduced me to some uncommon women as well.
When we get together, we talk about work and wine and food and perhaps weather too (it’s a farming community after all) and I imagine us as characters in Wasserstein’s play- particularly the scene where the women- about to graduate college- are asked by the dean what they hope to achieve. One after one, the women offer ambitious goals: to attend law school, to study archeology, to become a securities analyst. But my favorite, and perhaps the one that I identified with the most, is the woman who replied, “I’m assuming something will happen to me.”