A monologue from the play by Edna Ferber

Adapted for the stage by Walter Wykes

NOTE: This monologue is reprinted with the author’s permission. All inquiries should be directed to the author at:

MARY LOUISE: I don’t know. I don’t know what the problem is. I’ve been trying to write about the city, you know, my experiences here. Then I decided to write a love story, but that’s not working out either. My hero sounds more like a clothing store dummy than a real live human being, and, from what I hear, editors aren’t fond of black-mustachioed figures nowadays. I’ve been fighting with him for a week now, the stubborn mule. He won’t make love to my heroine. He refuses. I’ve tried to put red blood in his veins, but the two of them just won’t get together—they’re as far apart as they were the day I sat down to write. I’m at my wit’s end. I’ve bitten off nearly half of my fingernails—look—see? There’s nothing wrong with my heroine—I’m sure of that. She’s a fascinating, mysterious, graceful creature, full of wit and passion and adventure, but not once has he clasped her to him fiercely or pressed his lips to her hair, her eyes, her cheeks. He hasn’t even had the guts to “devour her with his gaze” as we writers like to say. This morning I thought he might be showing some signs of life. He was developing possibilities. But nothing came of it. He wimped out. That’s why I decided to wash my hair and come out here—to get away from him for a little while. Back home? I taught school—and hated it. But I kept on teaching until I’d saved five hundred dollars. All the other girls teach until they’ve saved five hundred dollars—then they pack two suit-cases and go to Europe for the summer. But I saved my five hundred for New York. I’ve been here six months now, and the five hundred has shrunk to almost nothing, and if I don’t break into the magazines pretty soon … Then, I’ll have to go back and teach thirty-seven young devils that six times five is thirty, put down the naught and carry six, that a rhetorical question requires no answer, and that the French are a gay people, fond of dancing and light wines. But I’ll scrimp on everything from hairpins to shoes, and back again until I’ve saved up another five hundred, and then I’ll try it all over again, because I—can—write. I’m going to make it! I’m going to make this town count me in as the four million and oneth! Sometimes I get so tired of being nobody at all, with not even enough cleverness to wrest a living from this big city, that I want to stand out at the edge of the curb and just scream! Take off my hat, and wave, and shout, “Hey, you four million self-absorbed, uncaring people, I’m Mary Louise Moss, from Escanaba, Michigan, and I like your town, and I want to stay here! Won’t you please pay some attention to me! Just a little bit!” No one even knows I’m here except … well … myself and the rent collector.

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