Warning: This little fanfic resulted from watching The Music Man (1962) one too many times, as well as Nyquil-fueled delirium (ah, terrible colds!). Much snark ahead…


Random salesman whose name I'm too lazy to research: This meeting of the Fraternity of Traveling Salesmen will now come to order…

Charlie Cowell: *rushes onto the train before angry mob can catch him* Sorry I'm late, fellas – what'd I miss?

Random salesman: Nothing; I was just about to announce today's round-table topic: Cash, or credit? Personally, I think credit is old-fashioned!

*Other salesmen murmur in general agreement*

Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Chase, Discover, Capital One, et al.: *snicker* Oh, really? Please tell us more, salesmen of 1912!

Charlie Cowell: Eh, this topic is boring! I want to talk about Harold Hill!

*Salesmen squee like fangirls*

Salesman with clashing polka-dot bowtie and plaid vest ensemble: *starry-eyed look* Ooh, he's dreamy! And I heard he's the bestest salesman ever!

Charlie Cowell: Yeah – if you like frauds! I'm going to catch up to him one of these days, but it won't be here in this very train we're riding, because that would be way too much of a convenient coincidence! And now I will brag about how savvy Iowans are, so I can unwittingly offer a dare to the man in the brown suit who's sitting near the exit and quietly snickering at us!

Harold Hill: *leaps to his feet* Say, thanks for planning my summer itinerary!

Charlie Cowell: *completely dumbfounded* And you are… ?

Harold: The first of a series of convenient coincidences! *grins and brandishes PROF. HAROLD HILL suitcase before running off train*

Charlie Cowell: Aw, spit!

Harold: *waggles finger at Charlie Cowell as train pulls away* Ha, you just got owned! Sucker.


Harold: *tries to make cordial small talk with passerby*

Townspeople: *totally ignore him*

Harold: Humph! Maybe I should just blow this Popsicle stand… *comes across Marcellus Washburn* Hey, what a stunning coincidence that I should run into my old partner all the way out here! *checks off scorecard marked EXTREMELY IMPROBABLE OCCURENCES THAT HELP ADVANCE THE PLOT* Well, that makes two already, and we're barely twenty minutes into the movie!

Marcellus: *beams with ecstatic happiness* Gregory! It is so good to see you! Even though I have left behind the life of crime and set up a nice, cozy little existence for myself, there is nothing I'd love to see more than you destroying the hopes and dreams of every little boy in the town I have chosen to settle in, while taking all of my friends and neighbors for every dollar they've got. Hell, I'll even help you out! And when I'm not doing that, I will gaze at you in reverent awe as you demonstrate your mad selling skillz.

Harold: *gives trademark grin and winks at audience* Damn, I'm good! Okay, so give me the lowdown, Marce: What do I need to know?

Marcellus: There's a new pool table in town, and the maiden librarian who teaches piano is a stuck-up snob. But she's also gorgeous, so you know there's a heart of gold under her prickly exterior. All she needs is the right man to loosen her up a bit.

Harold: Cool. Now step back, son, and watch me work. *raises hands in the air like a televangelist preacher* Pool is the devil!

Crowd: Aah!

Harold: It will make your sons drink!

Crowd: Aah!

Harold: And smoke!

Crowd: Aah!

Harold: And memorize jokes from magazines that haven't even been invented yet!

Crowd: *looks puzzled*

Harold: *thinks quickly* Ragtime is the devil!

Crowd: Aah!

Harold: *grins* Phase one is complete.

Marcellus: Psst! Librarian approaching at ten o'clock!

Harold: *rushes over to librarian and follows her home* Hey, baby.

Marian Paroo: Get lost, creep! *slams door*

Harold: *shrugs and walks away* Your loss!


Mrs. Paroo: So how was your day, darling?

Marian: A pervy stranger who's old enough to be my father tried to make a pass at me as I walked home this evening.

Mrs. Paroo: *looks excited* Aw, was he good-looking?

Marian: *gapes at her mother* What part of "pervy stranger who's old enough to be my father" did you not understand?

Mrs. Paroo: *shrugs* Beggars can't be choosers. I've got to get you married off, one way or another!

Marian: Fiddlesticks! I have more important things to think about – like Balzac! If only the ladies of River City would take reading more seriously…

Mrs. Paroo: When a woman has a husband and you've got none, why should she take advice from you – even if you are more intelligent and better educated?

Modern audience: *jaws drop; not sure whether to laugh or cry*

Amaryllis: Hi, my character seems to exist solely to put her foot in her mouth and/or state the obvious! Winthrop hardly ever talks and is unhappy! You are an old maid, Miss Marian! I also have a secret crush on your brother – dear Winthrop, why don't you love me? Is it because I cruelly laughed at you when you lisped my name?

Marian: *grows dewy-eyed at Amaryllis' mention of sweethearts* Oh evening star, who is my Prince Charming? And when will he come to rescue me from this life of drudgery? I know it could not be that pervy stranger who is old enough to be my father – such a thing would be absolutely unthinkable!

Sentimental romantics in audience: *smile knowingly and feel vastly superior at having caught on to this clever bit of foreshadowing*


*Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn leads humdrum patriotic sing-along, which eventually segues into "Indian" skit that nowadays would result in Native American groups protesting such wanton misrepresentation of their culture – especially as there are no North American tribes known to have used traditional British sheep-counting language. Demonstrating the innocent tomfoolery that leads to juvenile hall and/or compulsory community service, Tommy Djilas lights a firecracker under Mrs. Shinn. Miraculously, she is unharmed, because in those days, firecrackers understood the difference between mischievous pranks and intentional arson, and would modify their explosions accordingly.*

Harold: *observes proceedings with cool eye* This is totally lame. Time to liven things up a bit! Marcellus, you rile up the crowd while I take center stage! Hey, everyone, I got the solution to all your problems: Something so cool it'll beat a dumb old pool table, any day! I guarantee, as soon as your boys hear what it is, they'll forget all about that devil's game…

Crowd: *leans in eagerly*

Harold: *gives a grand flourish* I am going to organize a boys' band!

Modern, jaded audience: *laughs hysterically at the idea of bands being cooler than pool*

Crowd: *enthusiastically embraces idea and starts playing pretend instruments*

Marian: *glowers as she watches everyone march out of the gym* You people are dumber than a box of rocks! I'm going back to the library – at least my books provide intelligent company! *passes befuddled Mayor Shinn and School Board* Oh, for heaven's sake! Is there anyone in this town with even half a brain? There is no band!

Mayor Shinn: *looks confused* Then where's all that music coming from?

*Parade music instantly disappears in a puff of logic*

Mayor Shinn: *briskly composes himself* Right, men. Get that spellbinder's credentials!

*Meanwhile, Harold Hill helps Constable Locke nab Tommy Djilas*

Mayor Shinn: Stay away from my daughter!

Tommy: Great honk!

Mayor Shinn: *puts hand to head and goes woozy* Oh, the humanity!

School Board: *faints*

Harold: *sighs and rolls eyes* Do I have to do everything around here? Tommy, go invent a music holder for a marching piccolo player – that'll keep you out of trouble! *gestures for random female passerby to join them* And here's a girlfriend for you, as well!

Zaneeta: *giggles in that irritatingly perky manner of hers* Ye gods!

Harold: *grins triumphantly at Constable Locke as teens happily walk down the sidewalk, hand in hand* So, am I good, or am I good?

Constable Locke: Uh, Professor, just so you know – Mayor Shinn owns that pool table you've been ragging on since you got to town. And that was the mayor's daughter... *laughs and shakes his head* Figures that out of the huge crowd of girls who walked by, you had to pick her!

Harold: *frowns* Well, if that just isn't another convenient coincidence!