“When I was eight years old, my grandfather took me into New York City to see 'Chicago' on broadway. I can remember, even years later, how enthralled I was by every feature of the show; the raw truth of the human condition portrayed in the performance, and how all of the actors maintained a certain 'je ne sais quoi' - Velma, especially, boy did she sell her shit good. Suffice to say, I was dazzled to boot right then and there, imagining myself shaking and swanking as if my life depended on it. I couldn't take my eyes away, bright lights imposing over the stage as the thematic climax reared it's ugly but brilliantly wicked head. After that night, I mutated into the embodiment of a classic cliche that would've read "small-town girl with big city dreams," and I would've given anything to fulfill what everyone else implied was my "pie in the sky" ideal. screw 'em!
See, the thing is, I hail from Riverville, MA, where nobody ever really leaves, and the closest I'd ever gotten to any decree of fame at that point was the recognition I oftentimes found myself obtaining for being the resident drama-queen and chatty Kathy in my third class, gee did I keep Mrs. Chandler's hand busy in drawing my name up on the board, because I just couldn't seem to pipe down. My mother, Madison, a stay-at-home housewife, saw my unruly ways and flair for theatrics as a common source of frustration, while on the other hand my father, Paul, who's devoted the better portion of his career as a modern American literature professor for Riverville College, always seemed to appreciate my vivacious and spirited fashion, ceaselessly encouraging me to be exactly as I am, zestful temperament and all. And so that's the moral fiber I've since carried with me throughout my life.
My dad and I always maintained the kind of close relationship that from all outside appearances might've insinuated the theory that we were safekeeping a certain undefined secret. On the other hand, my mother I never felt I could connect with or quite understood me and seemingly put her best foot forward in making me feel like I was some kind of basement-dwelling misfit with no real sense of direction for the better part of my upbringing. And here she was, an unemployed, self-proclaimed Betty who ultimately had to rely on a man to care for her, and whose sole major focal point of everyday was watching Days of our Lives and secretly smoking Pall Malls in the kitchen while she gossiped with our next door neighbor, Kathy, about anybody's business that wasn't exclusively theirs. I can't cite that I particularly blame her, though, as I always sensed that she was generally lonely and bored, and I constantly felt like she was resentful of the attention I garnered as being "daddy's little girl" and only girl, the way I understood it.
My first big play I ever starred in was my fifth grade's rendition of The Wizard of Oz as Dorothy Gale. How typical, yeah? I rocked the crap outta the glittering ruby slippers I assembled myself and my parents couldn't have persuaded me to take them off for the several weeks to follow I wore them to school even if they tried, but I can almost be sure my mother entertained the idea of feeding them to the neighbor's dog once or twice, I could see the twinge in her eyes every time she laid eyes on them. Theater became an immense focus in my life all the way into high school, where I especially flourished socially. I starred in most of Riverville High's productions, such as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet and Blanche Dubious in A Streetcar Named Desire, just to name a few. These were welcomed distractions, specifically because the tension at home was reaching uncharted territories. It was evident to me that my mom and dad were never particularly affectionate throughout my childhood, but the void between them seemingly grew until it became apparent they didn't even like - let alone could tolerate - one another any longer. I've never been one to wear the true depth of my emotions on my sleeve, instead opting to mask my insecurities and heartache with a blithe and carefree outer exterior to translate the impression that everything's always "a-okay". I have a hard time talking about feelings, mine or anyone else's, for that matter. So, when I signed up for volunteer work in order to gain college credits and overall boost the morale in my applications, it was just a wee bit ironic they would've assigned me to grief counseling, when my comprehensive go-to quick fix for all things anguish is to down a shot of Jose, rub some dirt in it, and bare a smile.
I have to say, the work I did with Boston Grief undoubtedly gave me some perspective on my own life's state of affairs. Here I was quietly sulking behind closed doors - in the privacy of my own self-imposed isolation within my increasingly cold household - over the revelation that my family was effortlessly coming undone at the seams, when I was being faced with the mourning loved ones of those who had passed over into whatever realm may or may not lie beyond death. It was heartbreaking to witness, and admittedly I had a difficult time adjusting to fulfilling this entirely new role for me - in this completely untapped domain within myself - as their unforeseen salvation. Talk about pressure, right? It was right around this time when I met - or rather, became re-acquainted - with Jesse Fitz, who the only thing I could recall about was that we'd been in the same class every grade charting all the way back to kindergarten and had barely ever spoken so much as a full sentence to one another. His parents had just passed away after a fatal car accident and when he more or less lost his grip on reality, or maybe simply chose to detach himself from it altogether, his aunt and uncle forced him into the program to better cope with his misplaced anger stemming from what I can only assume was deep-rooted sorrow.
Boy, did this kid have a way with words, and each and every single one of them pissed me off beyond human comprehension. I gathered pretty easily that he couldn't have been bothered, but for chrissake, i had a job to do and the last thing I needed was some gloom-struck punk blatantly insulting every reluctant effort I made to help him. Like I already told you, dealing with all of this "woe is me" claptrap isn't my schtick, like, at all. But even yet, somewhere between him doling out some COMPLETELY out of line comment that I was a "self-absorbed sauce-box" and me slapping him deadpan across the face for it, we eventually came to find even ground. We were somehow able to push our respective emotional burdens to the side and, much to my surprise, developed an unwavering friendship, even despite having come from two different worlds closely circulating in the same stratosphere. I taught him how to shake some of his angst, he taught me to shed my relentless 'happy-go-lucky party girl' image. We gained a mutual respect for one another; we healed each other.
I suppose I could've gone to Riverville College free of tuition and subsequently saved my family an overabundance of money, but the thought of dwelling amidst these small-towners for the rest of my days posed as an all-consuming nightmare, so cue a naive 18-year-old me - fresh out of high school and presumably ready for the world - packing my bags for a new venture to The Big Apple. Fortunately, my dad's older sister, Anna, lived in Queens with her husband, so I was able to stay with them as I double-majored in Theatre and Psychology at NYU as opposed to living on campus. The prospect of dating was seldom a concern for me, but I suppose I entertained the thought once or twice, and let a few Johnnies take me out for what was largely just a free meal and some tolerable company for an evening. I was far too consumed with my studies and then if you tossed in trying to navigate the freakin' subway system of New York City, it was safe to assume I had my hands full enough as is. Not to mention the fact that I was more or less working day in and day out in order to perfect my technique on stage, because although the competition at Riverville High had been few and far between, I was suddenly being matched against students who'd been training for stardom virtually their entire lives.
Most of the roles I portrayed for NYU's productions were extras or secondary characters, at best. I tried not to let it get me discouraged, however, so when I finally graduated I wasted no time before putting a resume together and attending every audition on this damned island, including broadway. Suffice to say, I'm still waiting for my big break, but I have starred in a TRESemmÃ© commercial and a recurring role on The Young and the Restless - by my mother's reaction, you would've thought I was starring in The Hunger Games series (by modern day's standards, my mother actually has no idea what that even means, but you get the point). Living on my own, I've managed to keep bread on the table - or at least a takeout menu on the fridge - by working as a receptionist for a therapist's office during the day and waiting tables a few nights a week.
That is, until now. Not even a mere two weeks ago, I got a phone call from the hospital in Riverville, where my mom had been submitted to after our neighbor found her unconscious on the living room floor. They found a tumor in her cerebrum and with nobody to care for her - of course, my father had the decency to go on pretending everything was okay up until I was in college and then proceeded to move out of the house - I've decided it's best to move back home. So here I am, nearly twenty-seven years old and back where I started; sucked back into the never-ceasing vortex that is Riverville, Massachusetts.”
But Philip had visions of himself as a great writer, another Fitzgerald, a Faulkner... though in truth, he possessed no such talent. Unable to accept his own failings, he turned his fury on his family. He dragged his wife and children from college to college, searching for inspiration.
Gayle Watson turned inwards, seeking solace in her ballet, while Mary Jane hid behind an exuberant personality. At every new school, she was the class clown and party animal. In public, nothing was ever wrong with Mary Jane, while in private, little was ever right. Eventually, Philip's frustrations boiled over, and he struck his elder daughter over the cost of her dancing lessons. While Madeline was prepared to endure her husband's bitterness, she would not stay to see her children suffer his violence.
A few weeks later, as Philip was receiving honors during his college's awards ceremony, Madeline left home with her daughters and two suitcases. She received nothing from the courts, and was left to shuffle from relative to relative. For Mary Jane, life was scarcely improved. They were resented by those who took them in, with one exception - her father's elderly sister, Aunt Anna Watson, who lived in Forest Hills.
Mary Jane loved her visits with Aunt Anna, though one downside was that Anna and her neighbor May Parker were always trying to get Mary Jane together with May's nephew, Peter. Mary Jane was thirteen when she first laid eyes on Peter, aged fourteen. Peter had just started high school, and through her window Mary Jane saw a serious-looking bookworm - kind of cute, in a nerdy sort of way. But Mary Jane had other priorities, and other worries.
Madeline Watson and her family had finally settled down in Pittsburgh, staying with her cousin, Frank Brown. A widower, with three children of his own, Frank paid the bills while Madeline looked after the household. Frank was harsh, but not violent, and at last the tortured family found some stability. But while Mary Jane was breaking hearts as a high-school freshman, Gayle ignored her mother's entreaties and married her high school sweetheart - football star and honours student Timmy Byrnes. Gayle became pregnant when Timmy was just nineteen.
In Timmy's trapped eyes, Mary Jane saw the roots of the desperation which destroyed her father. Turning away from Gayle's impending misery, Mary Jane buried herself in acting, parties, and the nation's new celebrity sensation... Spider-Man. Mary Jane saw that she and Spider-Man shared two things in common - a determined to enjoy life, and a mask which hid their true faces.
The following Thanksgiving break, Mary Jane went to stay with Aunt Anna, when a break-in at the Parker household cost the life of Peter's Uncle Ben. In shock, May Parker had been brought over to Anna Watson's house, but Mary Jane had little stomach for the misery of others. So it was that she watched as Peter arrived home and rushed inside. A minute later, she could hardly believe her eyes as she saw Spider-Man crawl out of an upstairs window, off to seek revenge on his Uncle's killer.
Burying that secret deep within her, Mary Jane watched as Gayle became pregnant again, and her young husband abandoned her. She saw her own mother become sick and die. Desperate, Gayle assumed that Mary Jane would stay and help raise the two young children, but Mary Jane saw nothing but a cage. She ran from Gayle's life, all the way to New York.
Staying briefly with Aunt Anna, Mary Jane found work waiting tables and dancing on stage in discos. She put a deposit on a downtown studio apartment, cheap, but at last a place of her own. In-between, she managed to avoid the date with Peter Parker that their respective aunts were so keen to arrange. But she couldn't put it off for ever.
Peter, expecting a dowdy girl, was stunned by Mary Jane's beauty and exuberant charm. Mary Jane remembered a bookish, bespectacled nerd, and never imagined the confident young college student Peter had become. Nor, when a television bulletin announced that the Rhino was at large in the city, did she expect him to suggest they ride into town on his motorcycle and catch the action. Of course, Peter immediately disappeared to "take photos", and Spider-Man turned up moments later. Mary Jane bit her tongue, and feigned surprise at these, and many such future "coincidences".
Mary Jane dated Peter a couple more times, and became part of his circle of friends, joining Harry Osborn, Gwen Stacy, and Flash Thompson. But Peter and Gwen fell deeply in love, and Mary Jane could offer no such commitment. Instead, Mary Jane began casually dating Harry, though she flirted shamelessly with Peter, and others. But when Harry developed a drug addiction, his relationship with Mary Jane suffered greatly, and it never truly recovered.
With the death of Gwen Stacy and Norman Osborn, Mary Jane's friendship with Peter remained true, and she comforted him through his loss. Harry meanwhile had become increasingly unstable, and Mary Jane abandoned him completely. Over time, Peter began to realise that there was more to Mary Jane than the "party girl" persona she affected. As Peter departed on a trip to Europe, he left Mary Jane with a kiss which at last reflected the depth of feeling that had developed between them. In her words... "Wow!"
Over the following months, they became lovers, although Peter's commitments as Spider-Man caused no less grief with Mary Jane than they had when he dated Gwen Stacy or Betty Brant. Even though she secretly knew the reasons for his unreliable behaviour, Mary Jane still felt the need to punish him - occasionally dating sports jocks, like Flash Thompson and others, to get her point across.
Peter eventually proposed to Mary-Jane, but after consideration, she declined, saying that she wasn't the sort of girl who could be happy with just one man. Feeling uncomfortable, Mary Jane left New York for some time, and furthered her modeling career in Florida. In her absence, Peter dated several different women, and pursued a tempestuous relationship with the Black Cat.
When Mary Jane returned, both she and Peter were having some problems with their lives, and relied on one another as good friends. But after another round of the usual Peter Parker lies following a battle with the Puma, Mary-Jane revealed to Peter that she knew that he was Spider-Man. Since his mask was now gone, she removed hers, and told Peter about the other side of Mary Jane, and her own difficult past. In their shared honesty, the two realised how close they had become in their lives. A few months later, Peter proposed once more, and was accepted.
They married, and shared many moments of great happiness. But the reality of being wedded to a super-hero was far more demanding than Mary Jane ever imagined. Between villains like Venom invading their personal lives, MJ struggle with Peter's extended absences, and the very real fear that one day, she might get a phone call saying her husband was in a morgue, dressed in a Spider-Man costume.
Mary Jane's fame brought its own problems. She was kidnapped by Jonathan Caeser, a wealthy admirer. Following her escape and his being sent to jail, Caeser still managed to use his influence to ensure that she was forced out of the modelling business. MJ managed to find well-paid work in the day-time drama "Secret Hospital", although she was consequently subjected to several other attacks from crazed fans.
Whether at home at night, or out being the social animal her soap opera fans expected her to be, the young bride found herself increasingly alone - a super-hero widow. She took up smoking, and was nearly tempted into an affair by smooth-talking actor Jason Jerome. Miserable, tense, her life was a far cry from the happy carefree days before her marriage.
But things started looking up for the young couple when Mary Jane became pregnant. Even more significant was the return of Peter's long-lost clone, Ben Reilly, who assumed the role of Spider-Man. Though Norman Osborn's plans caused the loss of her unborn child, Peter and MJ undertook marriage guidance, and Mary Jane took up psychology at ESU, befriending Jill Stacy. Mary Jane was given an opportunity to resume her beloved modelling, for which she was very well paid - a fact which caused Peter some embarrassment. They moved into an expensive apartment, along with Aunt May. Their happiness seemed assured.
Though Ben Reilly had tragically been killed by the Green Goblin, Peter told Mary Jane that he was done with being Spider-Man, once and for all. But the spider-bite ran deep in his blood. While MJ's busy modeling schedule was straining their relationship, the truth came out that her husband was still Spider-Man. Their marriage on the rocks, Mary Jane faced further problems as a stalker harassed her constantly on the phone - a secret she withheld from Peter.
As their love hung in the balance, Mary Jane took off on a plane trip. Pete was supposed to catch up with her and have time away to patch things up. With the stalker on board, the plane exploded in mid-air. Peter refused to believe his wife dead, until convinced by the weight of evidence.
But Peter was right the first time. MJ was held captive by "the Stalker", a man who supernaturally began to become like Peter after absorbing his memories. Spider-Man rescued MJ, but after the mental trauma of her captivity, she was unable to return to the lifestyle which had torn them apart. The two separated, with Mary Jane moving to the West Coast.
After a painful time apart, the two of them recently decided to make one last move. As Mary Jane flew to New York, Peter flew to Los Angeles. Each finding the other absent, they returned home. But Peter's flight was met an electrical storm, and made an unscheduled stop in Denver, as Mary Jane's plane touched down for a stopover. The two of them met in the airport.
Their reunion was nearly sabotaged when Doctor Doom arrived at the airport, a guest of the American government. When a Latverian resistance group launched an all out attack in the waiting lounge, Spider-Man aided Captain America to defend Doctor Doom. Mary Jane could have no clearer proof that loving Peter Parker meant accepting Spider-Man. But amongst the rubble, Peter told Mary Jane that he needed her, that he loved her, and that he was nothing without her. Watching them, Captain America could see the truth. He offered Peter a word to the wise, from someone who had been down that road a while. "The mask is supposed to hide your face. Don't let it hide your heart." Reunited with Peter, Mary Jane focused on developing her acting skills with serious stage performances, overcoming the stereotype of being an unintelligent supermodel.
Mary Jane, Aunt May, and Peter resided in Tony Stark's tower since Peter joined the New Avengers. She has suffered watching Peter die at the hands of Morlun, only to watch him re-emerge from his own corpse reborn. She supported Peter's decision to unmask before the world in response to the Superhuman Registration Act, despite the increased risk to her own safety. After Peter withdrew his support for the Act, she and Aunt May went into hiding.
The Kingpin, learning of Spider-Man's unmasking, sent a sniper to locate and shoot the Parkers. While Peter saved Mary Jane from the gunfire, Aunt May was shot and sent into a coma. Peter desperately searched for a means to save Aunt May's life, blaming his unmasking for endangering his family. With the Parkers at a dead-end, Mephisto took advantage of the situation, offering to restore May to health if Peter and Mary Jane agreed to have their holy bond of matrimony removed from time. Mephisto also agreed to erase all memories and records of Spider-Man's unmasking to ensure May would not be simply shot by another sniper. After offering something additional in secret to Mephisto, Mary Jane selflessly agreed to the deal, believing that the love between her and Peter would be strong enough to bring them back together again. Following Mary Jane's lead, Peter consented. Now, time has been altered such that Mary Jane, though she shared a relationship with Peter, never married him, and is currently no longer romantically involved with him.