Author's Note: Hi! I'm new to the Music Man fandom, although I have loved the show since I was a little girl. Recently I was cast as Marian Paroo in the Music Man, and I am doing a character study and... well... this is it. Please review, and let me know if I should be adding something I'm missing? Again, I'm new here and I want to get an accurate read of Marian as a character. Thank you!
Lessons in Love
I see all these people in love everywhere. I just don't understand it. I'm afraid I never have. Sure, when I was younger I saw my mama and daddy and they were married and happy and more in love than any two I had ever seen, and I am likely to ever see again. The way mama smiled at daddy was the brightest smile and it could illuminate the house. Daddy looked at mama with the happiest look on his face, and I dreamed someone would look at me that way, one day.
Mama always wanted grandchildren, I knew that from the time Winthrop was born. I guess mama figured he wasn't getting any grandchildren from me anytime soon, so she and daddy had another baby. Daddy didn't care, he was happy that he had a new son. I was sixteen when Winthrop was born, and my friends were rushing in and out of love theirselves. I figured that love came when people were older, like mama and daddy's age, so I didn't worry about it.
Daddy got sick around the time Uncle Maddy moved back to town. Miser Madison, that's what everyone else seemed to call him, came to town with a ton of money and no one to share it with. He was a writer, but not a well known one. He had a fancy typewriter, left it to me in his will. Oh, and he had some amazing stories to tell! He told me and Winthrop (but he was very little, so he doesn't remember) about he and daddy when they were little. For a while I didn't know he was talking about daddy, because he called daddy "Wilson" and everyone I heard refer to him called him "Mr. Paroo". Uncle Maddy told me about how daddy used to play the saxophone and he played the piano, and they'd play at parties. Apparently that's how daddy met mama. At a party. I don't know what I expected, but it wasn't that they met at a party that daddy was playing for. Mama had Uncle Maddy teach me to play piano so that I could play for daddy, and daddy loved it. He only wished he could grab his saxophone and play along, like he had when I was a little girl when Uncle Maddy came to visit.
Uncle Maddy was never in love. He told me so himself when I watched out the window as my former best friend, Ellen, canoodled in the street with the boy who sat in front of me at school. "Love isn't the most important thing in the world, Marian." He told me and smiled. "Do you know what does matter? Family. Friends. Knowledge. Have those and you have the keys to happiness, dear." I never told mama that, but I lived by that code.
Daddy got sicker, and mama tried to distract herself a little less. The laundry was my job, and the dishes and the garden. Mama had to spend time with daddy and Winthrop and I. I was twenty one, and single. Uncle Maddy hadn't lived with us since Winthrop was born five years back, so people just knew him as the rich single man with the thick mustache who invited the little blonde girl to his house every evening. And I went. It was harmless, he got me out of the house and he taught me to catalog books (he was opening a library and he wanted me to work there) and play piano and how to tell when someone was a crook. Crooks always tried to get into River City and rip us off. But not on my watch. Money was tight with daddy being sick, but Uncle Maddy paid our bills and did give me a job at the library.
Daddy passed away the next year. He told me, one of the last things he said, was that hopefully I'd have a family one day and I'd really be happy then. He didn't realize I was happy then, but I knew what he meant. Everyone my age had a fellow, even if they weren't married (most were). I had the library, and mama and daddy and Winthrop and Uncle Maddy. Daddy was gone, so Uncle Maddy and I supported the family for real. The sobering death of daddy left me in the library, checking the catalogues through my tears and halting my look for love altogether.
Years flew, and daddy wasn't meant to stay on this earth forever. He was much older than mama, over ten years older. Uncle Maddy tried to console mama, but she was inconsolable. No matter what he said, or did, one fact didn't change: the only things that made mama happy were me and Winthrop. Winthrop was six then. Things had changed a lot in those four years.
Uncle Maddy was older than daddy by a little bit, so I should've known if daddy didn't live forever neither could Uncle Maddy. I was at Uncle Maddy's when he passed, having a heart attack in his chair while I practiced the piano. That's when the rumors started flying about the two of us, because in his will he left me the library and his piano and typewriter (the townspeople only cared about the first, because they didn't need to know about the other two). Eventually they settled that I was having an affair with Uncle Maddy. Oh, the thought of that made me sick! My Uncle Maddy, and me? I kept to my library, and my only close friend Ethel, who was also single (and older than me, living with her uncle who owned the livery stables) and viewed as strange. She started to believe the rumors too, and I was left alone in my library full of books.
But I'm adaptable. Even after Ethel quit talking to me I still had friends. Book characters were my friends, my love for knowledge continued. I grew closer to mama, and I used to be much closer to daddy than mama. Mama and I had two things in common: daddy was the best friend either of us ever had, and we both wanted what was best for Winthrop. Winthrop had trouble speaking, so I tried to get him to read with me but he was reluctant. He loved to play, like little boys do, and I didn't know how to bond with my mute brother.
It took mama a while to notice that Ethel and I weren't friends. She didn't really care, she wasn't the biggest fan of Ethel or her uncle, but she wished I could have had some real friends. But I didn't have time for friends, or love, or anything really. Money was tight still, the library needed its librarian, and I wanted to spend time with mama and Winthrop while they- and I- were still here. Mama started to play matchmaker around my twenty third birthday, when Marcellus Washburn became the first newcomer in town since Uncle Maddy. He was much older than me, and he heard the rumors about me from Ethel, who only added to the rumors. Ethel fell in love with him and convinced her uncle to give Marcellus a job. Even though Ethel and I weren't close anymore, I was happy to see that she had found love.
Mama's heart still wanted me to fall in love, but I kept Uncle Maddy's words close to heart. I started teaching piano lessons to have a little extra money, and I wrote whenever I had the chance. I wrote the stories Uncle Maddy used to tell me so that I could read them to Winthrop sometime. Mama dusted off daddy's saxophone which she kept by the piano, unused since the day he passed. She never touched any of daddy's old things, never even cleared out his dresser drawers. Of course it wasn't my business, but I knew she missed him dearly. She told me, "Find a husband your own age, dear, and don't let him go… heaven forbid, don't wait until it's too late to marry a man!" I didn't exactly follow that plan, because the men she suggested for me were strange and just wrong for me. Mama continued to try pushing me with men, but she accepted my piano lessons and library work as acceptable until I fell in love.
Winthrop's ninth birthday came and went, and he was still as shy as ever. Mama and Winthrop came to the library to help me with some spring cleaning, but Winthrop just sat at my desk and ran his finger along the dust of my old (and rather disorganized) catalogue. I wanted to give him a birthday present that might get him moving and doing something, help him find some school friends and maybe bust him out of his shyness. Mama didn't mind when I got him the puppy, I told her about it first, and Winthrop enjoyed the company of the dog. The dog was now the thing he was closest to, but as much as it irritated mama I understood. Dogs (or fictional characters) couldn't judge you.
Maud Dunlop, one of Ethel's new friends, heard that I was the piano teacher in town and she wanted her daughter to take piano. I was surprised that Ethel mentioned me, since she was so proud of her 'pianola', and I knew how much the ladies hated me. But Mrs. Dunlop put that hate behind her long enough to get her daughter Amaryllis into learning a life skill. It took the little girl a while to get the hang of it, but eventually she caught on. Once she started crushing on Winthrop she practiced even harder. She had the dedication of any piano student I would ever want to have. But it wasn't until she called me an "old maid" that I realized something.
I was twenty six, lived with my mama, and was the friendless librarian that gave piano.
I was following Uncle Maddy's advice, and I was going to end up just like him.