A Romantic Duet - Madison Linam and Mason Fowler
These two are the perfect leads in a rom-com and, bonus, it’s a musical! This is the plot: It’s Northside High School auditorium, 2011. A nervous sophomore, Maddie Linam, is about to go on at the choir’s annual Follies show. Here’s what she recalls:
“I was the very first act in the show and scared to death ... I looked over to a boy with a headset on, backstage, and he gave me a wink and a smile and told me everything would be OK.”
It would be another school year before they were in the same choir. Maddie was tracking that encouraging guy, Mason Fowler. It was a bit intimidating that he was older, played football, “and man, could he sing,” she said.
He tells his side: “I caught this pretty girl starring at me from across the choir room and, as I met her gaze, we quickly looked away and acted like nothing happened.”
Passage of time ... a meet-up with mutual friends ... a date. Follow with a musical montage where, at the next Follies, they sing a song together and Maddie’s grandfather actually notes, “I think she’s enjoying this a little too much.”
One year after that first Follies show, Mason asked Maddie to be his girlfriend. “Sure,” she said.
But suddenly, older guy must leave for college. Will they break up? Mason chimes in. “Right before I left for OSU, I realized – I can’t kick this girl to the curb! I first told her I loved her the day I left.”
Act II: Can this long-distance romance last?
Zoom in on Maddie on the Oklahoma State University campus, where they continue to date as she takes a degree in mechanical engineering.
“I majored in ... um ... general studies,” Mason added. “I was not going to get married before I graduated from college,” said Maddie firmly.
In 2017, while home on a break, Maddie’s younger brother, Hunter, bugged her to drive him back to Northside with an excuse that he’d left something. He steered his sister to the auditorium. Hidden in the dark were their mom, Michelle Linam, and Mason’s mom, Rae Lynne Smith.
Even though she anticipated a proposal, “for some reason, that day I was just in my own world,” Maddie said. Spotlight on Mason, onstage with lighted candles and photos of the two of them. She started crying immediately.
Mason said, “I did the typical preparation, making up a beautiful, elaborate series of words … and I barely got out ‘will you marry me?’”
After five years of dating, according to Mason’s account, “Instead of a timid ‘sure,’ I got a confident ‘yes.’”
She would “never” marry before graduation.
So, they set the date for Dec. 29, 14 days later. “The week after we got engaged, I was in a wedding venue,” she said. “I was ready to book.” She had discovered Kindred Barn at Mulberry, Ark., technically still being built. “I loved it.”
When they imagined their wedding, it would be “in the woods” said Mason at the same time she said “in an enchanted forest.” Then, they laughed at the same time, too.
One day before the wedding, Maddie and her mom were angling for a discount on three leftover Christmas trees at Home Depot. The nice manager told them to take all of them, free. All 17. Much carpentry of wooden tree stands took place. Fortunately, the couple had many relatives to help.
All the other details were in place. “My mom is a Realtor, but could be an interior designer,” Maddie said gratefully. “She really did 98 percent of the planning.”
A little suspense remained about whether Hunter, a newly graduated Marine, would have leave to attend. “I was ready to take on the U.S. Marine Corps!” Maddie said.
Dec. 29 was a bright but cold day. The wedding party posed for many pictures outdoors before the evening ceremony. Maddie beamed and glowed in her bare-shouldered gown, but afterward, realized she was too, too cold. Her bridesmaids wrapped her up in blankets and warmed her feet with a hairdryer. True service to the bride!
On to the main event: “We’re cryers,” Mason said. “It was all too much!” Maddie agreed.
Just as in a musical – but live! – the bride and groom stepped into the reception at the moment guests expect a “first dance,” and sang. The duet was “Lucky,” by Jason Mraz: I'm lucky I'm in love with my best friend.
“It was one of our best singing moments,” Mason remarked, still pleased about its success. “This is the performance I could have had a pass on!”
Yes, it’s cinematic. They nailed it.
Movies fade to black. But Maddie and Mason are living a happily-ever-after. She was hired by Michelin Tire as an engineer at a plant in Ardmore, Okla. Mason’s still finishing that degree, working full time, and planing to teach.
They have blended together their families. Soon, they’ll join their “best friends” moms and other family in Biloxi for relaxation at the beach.
This article appears in the June 2019 issue of Entertainment Fort Smith Magazine.