And Who Are You Supposed To Be?
How good was this past Sunday’s episode of Mad Men (“The Hobo and the Gypsy”)? So good that I don’t know if I want to go as Don Draper for Halloween anymore. That’s how good it was.
I probably will, anyway, as I’ve reached that point in my life where I pick Halloween costumes by cheapness and the breathability of the fabric. I already own an appropriate suit: I just need to shave my sideburns, slick my hair into the part I wore for the first quarter century of my life, get a pocket square and walk around with half a glass of scotch. And I already do half of that the other three-hundred and sixty-four days of the year. You know I’m all about the pocket squares.
“The Gypsy and The Hobo” put me in such a mood that I not only questioned whether I want to adopt this fictional protagonist as a costume, but what I’m doing with my life. But that’s what happens whenever I watch a good TV show, or a well-framed movie or a really moving song. Good art has the power to throw me in profound and unexpected moods. I’m a blank slate on which media gets to draw.
Which is ironic, because not only is that what Don Draper’s about (advertising and shaping the popular consciousness), but that’s what “what Don Draper’s about” is about. Jon Hamm’s character is popular because he looks like an alpha male who gets to drink all the time, screw around, dismiss his underlings with casual contempt, and luck his way into the halls of power. Every guy wants to be That Guy. Don Draper is selling an image. Matthew Weiner, producer of Mad Men, is selling Don Draper. So I applaud this fictional character’s ability to sell because I myself have been so thoroughly sold.
All that aside, dressing as a tormented ad executive for the company Halloween party would be too meta to pass up.
I’m Not Here to Tell You About Jesus
I got my opportunity to play Don Draper at an on-site meeting for TVClient in New York yesterday. Our travel arrangements required that I be up by 5:00 to catch the Acela Express from South Station by 6:00. I’ve taken Amtrak several times in the last few years, but never the Acela Express, with its unfolding business class tables and spacious cafe car. The four of us did some rehearsing for the work presentation, then shared war stories for the rest of the ride.
My role doesn’t put me in regular contact with the clients; I’m more akin to Ken or Peggy than Don. But I still speak in meetings, and yesterday I spoke to a conference room full of website developers on how we could work better with them. I fielded some technical questions, improvised my way through some new slides, and avoided stammering. Things to work on: eye contact, not clearing my throat.
Our cabbie from TVClient to Penn Station murmured something under his breath the entire time he drove us. Every ten seconds, he would click a handheld counter that he cupped in his palm. Prayers? Pedestrians he refrained from killing? We’ll never know.
The Acela Express seats aren’t quite tall enough to support my head and don’t recline far enough to let me slump. I slept with a stiff neck on the train ride back. When I got back to Davis, the sky was as dark as when I’d left.