Tuesday, November 4, 2014

On Getting Married at 36...

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I just posted this crazy-long response in a women's wedding forum, but realized it's more of a blog post than anything, so I'm pasting it here. I'm going to come back to this any time I get frustrated during the next 10 months to remind myself what I'm doing and why. I hope this is helpful to anyone else out there who is feeling the same way.

The question in the forum was "Did you feel silly for stressing over when he would propose to you after it finally happened?" It was in a forum for "later-marrying brides who are in their 30s."

My response:

I didn't feel silly at all. I waited 10 years, and when it finally happened, one of the first things I did was cry and tell him he couldn't make me wait 10 years for anything else. And he joked, "So, no long engagement then?"

After the proposal, what I mostly felt was relief. We'd been living together for five years by then, half of our relationship. I myself wasn't even ready for marriage until after we'd been dating the first five years, and I think that was mostly because I was in my former best friend's wedding and she was peer-pressuring us.

I met my fiancé when I was 25 and just out of college. In applying for jobs all over the country, I'd also started meeting guys online. He was living in Seattle, which at the time seemed laughable to me because I was in Delaware. I think meeting him the way I did felt safe--I was young and just trying things out in life. I wasn't making any long-term commitments then, really. I was looking for adventure. I'd met at least five other guys that way that year, from all over the country. One was even a Mormon in Utah.

When I couldn't find a full-time job in journalism after a year of looking (this was 2003 and lots of places just weren't hiring), I settled for a magazine internship in New York, just so I could get my foot in the door. He came out to visit me, across the country, three times that summer and sent care packages because I was broke and couldn't afford to eat much. Then, that August, I flew out to Seattle and we packed up his apartment and drove back across the country to New York together. He had gotten an apartment with a friend in Queens near mine and was excited to live there. It was the most romantic summer of my life. I felt like I was living in a movie and was happier than I'd ever been.

Unfortunately, a week before my fiancé moved to New York, my dad died in a distracted-driving accident (a teenager on a cell phone). It was a shock to both of us and I was never the same again. So I experienced the highest high, with all the wonder my new, adult life promised, immediately followed by the lowest low, the brutal realities of the world.

I was committed to staying in New York, though, and making my dream to be a journalist happen anyway. That's what my dad would have wanted, and that's what I did. Part of why I was able to be so driven was because I wanted to be in a position of authority when I finished my book about my dad and what had happened. I'm close to finishing that now.

And my fiancé supported me emotionally every step of the way. It took me two years to find my first journalism job in the city, at the Associated Press. And then my fiancé started college online and got an Associate's Degree in graphic design. He now works for a publishing company in the city, designing books, but his salary is not the greatest--pretty standard for just starting out in that industry. He works freelance around the clock to make ends meet. I work for a national women's magazine, one of the oldest in existence with one of the biggest circulations, and have been heavily invested in reaching that goal the past 10 years. For a long time, as far as marriage went, I was too sad about my dad not being there at my wedding to even really imagine it. I had become accustomed to feeling like I had experienced something most women my age hadn't, so being made to feel like an outcast for not being married didn't matter to me at all.

When we discussed getting married at year five, my fiancé said he would propose in 2011, if that was what I wanted, though marriage really didn't mean anything to him. This was the first I had heard him say that...that marriage didn't mean anything...or maybe it was something he'd always felt, but I hadn't been interested enough to ask.

But 2011, the year he said he'd propose, came and went. And suddenly all of my siblings and cousins started getting married. We were late bloomers, almost all of us, so it wasn't until our 30s that this started happening. After going to wedding after wedding with him, and watching him get drunk (he barely ever drinks) to cope with facing relatives' questions about when we were going to tie the knot, I often felt like I had reached, if you can excuse a second tying pun, the end of my rope.

So what happened in that time? Why was I suddenly so concerned about his proposing to me?

Was it my disappointment that he'd said 2011 but hadn't done it? Was it feeling like an odd man out at those weddings? That hadn't bothered me too much before, and I'd blazed my own trail in life with no insecurities like that until then.

Was it because I was getting older? I can remember when we were first together, being seen as the "old, married couple" while all the other 20-somethings went out and met people in bars, and feeling embarrassed about seeming so settled down already! So that's pretty ironic.

Was it because I questioned his commitment simply because he hadn't proclaimed it in a traditional way? He clearly had been committed to me 100 percent from the start, and through some fairly difficult times.

I think it was the concern other women in my life presented about the situation that ended up doing me in—and when I say "other women," that includes mass media.

I had no reason at all to question this man's sincerity, and yet that's what I did, after every one of those weddings we attended, for three years. Why not me, I wondered. Why don't I get to have a party to celebrate my relationship, too? Why is my relationship seen as less valid because we don't have this big party or this certificate? I felt resentful that our relationship was older than Grandma Moses...I felt annoyed that while I was one of the most career-oriented women I knew, and had achieved arguable success, at some point, people lost interest or acted like that was just something expected of me with my talents...and instead acted like there was something wrong with me because nobody had put a ring on my finger.

By New Year's of 2013, I got desperate. I couldn't take the family pressure anymore. I took a ring that had belonged to my aunt and I proposed. My fiancé said no, that this wasn't the way I would really want it to happen.  So that day, I took the ring and put it on a finger on my right hand and proposed to myself. I told a friend about that later and she started crying, like it was the saddest thing she'd ever heard.

But today, I view that ring on my right hand with as much comfort as the one on my left. Because in life, it's important to love yourself enough to not let other people convince you that you need something just because everyone else your age is doing it. Do not let people make you feel "less than" because you're older than other brides. Every person's life path is different. I almost annihilated a wonderful relationship because of the pressure I put on him to do this.

By the summer of 2013, after my last cousin's wedding, he gave me an ultimatum. He said due to his low salary he'd been unable to afford a ring and he was trying to save, but he needed me to not mention the word wedding again, or he'd leave me. For the remainder of that year, I developed new interests that didn't involve him. I started running competitively. I made myself look and feel better than I ever had. Part of it was because I'd convinced myself I was going to move out that January if he still hadn't proposed. I wanted to be ready to get back out there, into the dating world, just in case. He'd promised by Christmas. I felt like I had to stick to my guns this time.

On the anniversary of my dad's passing that August, I felt distraught. I went to Bryant Park in the city, near the library, the last place I'd talked to him on the phone—on Father's Day, the summer he passed. I asked him to please give me guidance about what to do. After I sat down in one of the flimsy metal chairs, I noticed they were playing a movie on a big screen in the park. It was called "The Women." It was an old black-and-white film about these women who ruin their relationships because they have too much pride. I'll never forget the line at the end of the film: "Pride is a luxury a woman in love cannot afford."

I really took that to heart. I was struggling with my confidence, and I believed that was my dad's message to me. He met my fiancé five days before he died, and he said, "You seem like a nice young man." I have always held onto that one sentence.

A few months after that, I decided to get my first mammogram. My aunt had had breast cancer, and I was only 35, but I figured better safe than sorry. When they told me they found something abnormal and I had to have a biopsy, I was so afraid. I didn't know what to think. But suddenly, just like when after my father died, all of my priorities in life became more clear. I realized how lucky I was to have such a great love and companion in my life, and decided all I wanted to do was live—that I didn't care whether or not we got married, as long as I could spend the rest of my days with him.

He was strangely nice to me for all of December, which I attributed to the fact that he thought I was dying. A few days before Christmas, I was told that the biopsy was benign and I was cancer-free. Then, on Christmas Eve, he proposed. He put the ring under the star on our tree, and when I found the ring, a glint of sunlight came through the window, bounced off the star and into my eyes and the entire experience felt like magic.

And I think what mostly felt like magic was that I had stopped wanting it so damn badly. Especially because I had wanted it for all the wrong reasons.

I'm experiencing those same peer pressures all over again, now that we are planning the wedding. I'm feeling too old to be doing this, to be dealing with this. I really don't know what to do about that realization...except to just go with it, I guess, and be happy I'm alive and that I get to share life with this wonderful man. And be happy that I proved my commitment to myself before needing a commitment from him.

Remembering that a wedding or a commitment ceremony or whatever you should happen to choose to do is unique to the two of you and doesn't have to be forced is the best thing you can do. Don't be sad about being an older bride. Be happy that you are alive and get to experience love and joy. Whenever the two of you decide to do this—if you decide to do this—is your own business.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

GH's Throwback Thursday, Mad Men Edition: "Waterloo"

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"The Best Things in Life Are Free" by B.G. DeSylva, Lew Brown, and Ray Henderson for the musical "Good News" (1927)

The moon belongs to everyone,
The best things in life are free.
The stars belong to everyone,
They gleam there for you and me.

The flowers in spring,
The robins that sing,
The moonbeams that shine,
They're yours, they're mine.

And love can come to everyone.
The best things in life are free.

And love can come to everyone.
The best things in life are free.


Since Mad Men's mid-season finale, "Waterloo," aired, many have said that Bert Cooper's performance of "The Best Things in Life Are Free" was an odd choice for such a conservative, money-minded individual (after all, the man has a Jackson Pollock hanging in his living room).


But if Bert is 80 at the time of his death in 1969, that would make him about 38 when this song was originally written, in 1927, for the musical Good News—so for him, it's likely a beloved show tune.


(The scene also makes a lot more sense when you remember that the actor who plays Bert Cooper, Robert Morse, is a famed song-and-dance man who won a Tony in the real 1962, when he was in his 30s, for How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. And just in case viewers really aren't getting it, mere minutes before Bert shuffles off Mad Men's mortal coil, show creator Matthew Weiner has him say "bravo" in reference to a man's walking on the moon.)



But what does the song really mean?

Towards the end of Good News, the character Connie Lane sings "The Best Things in Life Are Free" to college football player Tom Marlowe, who's fumbled a ball in a major game, then watched his buddy make the winning touchdown. Tom has just confessed to Connie that his fumble was no accident—he did it so he wouldn't have to marry his girlfriend, whom he'd promised to wed if they won the game. But he's no longer in love with her. He's fallen for her cousin Connie, his astronomy tutor, instead.

When Connie learns of this, she tells Tom that he'll never have to win a football game to win her love. Because, like the moon and stars they study together, the best things in life are free.

Words of wisdom for Don Draper at this point? Probably.


"Waterloo" is an episode where Don, a "football player in a suit," as Cutler so affectionately describes him, fumbles a ball on purpose. But it's for a good cause.

In the aftermath of the mid-season finale, Matthew Weiner has been answering a lot of questions about the episode and about the half-season in general. Here's what he had to say about Don and Peggy's relationship when he talked to Vulture:

"Part of the story of the season was them repairing their relationship. It has the structure of a romantic relationship, but to me it was about: Don cannot give Peggy confidence and Peggy cannot give Don integrity; both of them have to earn it for themselves. We wanted to bring it back to a place where Peggy did it her way, and Don did something—[giving her the Burger Chef pitch] wasn't a huge sacrifice, but it certainly wasn't the old Don."

Good Housekeeping,
May 1969
Peggy's been talking about "shared experiences" quite a bit these last few episodes, and about people feeling disconnected. And, when you think about it, it's been a disjointed half-season for every character on the show—you have lonely, desperate Megan and miserable, lovelorn Ted in L.A.; a disrespected, fussy and equally lovelorn Peggy (especially on Valentine's Day); a meandering, drug-and-orgy-dabbling Roger (who misses Don, because nobody gets his jokes anymore); a frustrated, ladder-climbing, power-hungry Joan, who says she's not willing to settle for a loveless marriage, despite being near 40 with a child, as Bob so eloquently reminds her; a now very clearly closeted Bob, who seems destined for a lonely life if he insists on marrying a woman; a half-blind and fully overwhelmed Ken Cosgrove, who's been left with nearly every account; a defensive Betty, who for the first time seems to be seriously questioning her role as a wife and mother; a disenfranchised Freddie Rumsen, who to this day is still essentially a door-to-door salesman; an artistically oppressed Stan, whose creativity is limited by his new boss; an annoyed Lou, who feels invisible much of the time thanks to Don's legacy, no matter how many fits he throws; two black secretaries, Dawn and Shirley, who feel unimportant because their coworkers can't tell them apart; two young daughters, Margaret and Sally, who want to run away from home—one of whom does so successfully; the worried and confused family Margaret leaves behind; a pregnant runaway hippie who's literally homeless—and Stephanie's the only representation of "home" Don has left; a pushed-to-the-edge Ginsberg, who's so disconnected from reality that he thinks a computer is out to get everyone; a number of rejected women who've flocked to Don's new mostly sober, faithful-to-his-wife vibrations; a number of rejected ad firms, who've attempted to poach SC&P talent; and, last but not least, an alienated Don, whose isolated state has been the main focus for the entirety of this half-season.

"It's the only sweet thing in my life."

Viewers seem to have a hard time remembering why Don Draper might be faced with so much hardship, animosity and real loss this season. Maybe because he's the hero, because he's so charming, they keep saying, "But why is Joan so mean to Don?" "Why is Peggy so mad at him?" "Why is Bert being so harsh?" But re-watch season six. And parts of season five. And you'll be reminded of what a raging asshole Don was for most of those episodes.

Every time this character is on top, he finds a way to self-destruct. Whenever Don Draper experiences the threat of loss or damage to his reputation—whether it's Betty's case of nerves; seeing his second wife for what she really is, a full-blooded human being who has ambitions of her own, not just some mirror of his most perfect self; having to say goodbye to his protégée, Peggy, because she's leaving to work for his rival; or feeling the need to compete with that rival after asking him to join his company, just to prove that he's still the best at what he does—Don typically goes back to his Dick Whitman roots and starts drinking excessively and philandering, just like his good ol' man. What's that they say about the father's sins...?

"Look at you...you're a bum, you know that?
What do you do? What do you make? You grow bullshit."

But Don hates that version of himself and wants to deny its existence. At the same time, his Don Draper coat of armor has so many chinks in it now that it's almost too heavy to keep carrying. As Megan sums up so well in this episode, both referring to his position at Sterling Cooper and his role in his marriage to her, "Aren't you tired of fighting?"


The best things in life are free. Don tries to smooth over the effects of his emotional and physical distance and (presumed) infidelities by promising to take care of Megan financially. In previous episodes, he's given money to Lane's widow after his suicide and told Betty he'll "pay for all of it" when Sally wants to go to Miss Porter's School just to escape the trauma of seeing him in bed with "that woman." Don is consistently spending money on things to cover up possible mars.

Oh, hi.  I was super happy when I thought it was my friend Joe calling.
But, no...it's you.

And the last few seasons, he's also been consistently pointing out the self-deceptions of those around him while continuing to conceal his own.


Like when Joan became a partner thanks to spending a night with Herb from Jaguar. In "The Other Woman," Don comes to her apartment and cautions her against it. But by then it's too late—Joan has already gone through with it after realizing she'd have a lot to gain in the company.

In the meeting where they announce her partnership, Don's face dissolves into dismay as he processes what's happened. So why would he later cut ties with Herb, knowing what Joan has sacrificed? It's an impulsive decision, because he can't deal with Herb's nonsense any longer (in the heat of the moment, Herb suggests that the kid making flyers for his New Jersey dealership might do a better job at copywriting than Don, which of course is a blow to Don's ego).


When Pete finds out, he goes falling-down-the-stairs ballistic because Don has unknowingly cost them their ability to go public with the company—and ruined Pete and Joan's chances of becoming millionaires overnight.

Don says to Joan, "Don't you feel 300 pounds lighter?" like he's done her a favor. But she just feels ashamed and disrespected. Roger arrives in the conference room, triumphant that he's just gotten them a meeting with Chevy, but Joan is unimpressed.


Joan: And what now? I went through all of that for nothing?
Don: Don't worry, I will win this.
Joan: Just once I'd like to hear you use the word "we." Because we are all rooting for you on the sidelines as you decide what is best for all of our lives.

Joan's observation is astute; Don absolutely struggles with the word "we." In the very first episode of Mad Men, "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," he admits that:

"You're born alone and you die alone, and this world just drops a bunch of rules on top of you to make you forget those facts. But I never forget…I'm living like there's no tomorrow. 'Cause there isn't one."


Don's most impetuous, careless maneuvers even go as far back as season four. In "Blowing Smoke," he takes it upon himself to write a letter to the big tobacco companies in the New York Times just to save face when he hears SCDP is losing the Lucky Strike account:





He annoys Bert the most with this, who says he should have alerted him. Before he leaves Don's office, telling everyone it was "nice knowing them," he mentions that Don shouldn't have sent a letter on the company's behalf without the signatures of every partner included—quite the opposite of what he says to Cutler in "Waterloo," when he learns he's sent Don's breach-of-contract letter with forged signatures.

(Which may be why Cutler's "not on his team.")

Don's letter to big tobacco works in the company's favor in season four by bringing in some new, more wholesome clients, but the whole thing is still very self-promoting—especially when you consider that this season, Don goes back on everything he wrote in an act of pure self-preservation.



And we haven't even covered Don's infractions against Peggy yet.


Though he was guilty of taking Peggy for granted numerous times in previous seasons, in the past few, he took it to another level.

In the middle of season six, Don realizes that neither SCDP nor Cutler Gleason & Chaough is big enough to win Chevy and comes up with an idea to merge the companies. When Ted Chaough agrees, it means that Peggy has to go back to her previous workplace with her tail between her legs.

Working for Ted, she's experienced much more freedom, encouragement and generosity than she ever had working for Don. But when Don recognizes that her mutually beneficial working relationship with Ted has developed into a romantic one, he does everything he can to dissolve it.

"Wah...wah...wah."

Don can't tolerate their enthusiasm while collaborating on the Rosemary's Baby spot for St. Joseph's Aspirin—partly because he's threatened by Ted's influence on Peggy, but mostly because his relationship with Sylvia has fallen apart, and if he can't be happy, nobody can. Peggy and Ted's giddiness starts as a minor, sometimes amusing, annoyance, but it eventually becomes a thorn in his side.

And after Peggy's former boss and mentor has removed any chance of her getting credit for coming up with the commercial (Don tells St. Joseph's the idea came from the recently passed-away Gleason—and leaks their outrageous budget plans), Ted tells her that he's volunteered to go to California.

She's not convinced, of course, that it's really Ted's idea to leave, so she accuses Don of sending him away just to be cruel.

"You're a monster."

It's the second time in the series Don's been referred to as such. In response to Don's letter to big tobacco, Bert Cooper says to the partners, "We've created a monster."

Don: I slept last night for the first time in a month.
Roger: You slept? Really? You weren't smiling over the taste of shit
that would be in everybody's mouth over breakfast today?

So in this final season of Mad Men, Don has to learn how to be human again. How to choose his battles wisely, how to avoid talking out of turn—how to "take the deal, don't negotiate," as he advises Harry Crane in "Waterloo."

Jon Hamm's acting is always top-notch in this series, but he revealed yet another layer to his skill set in the mid-season finale: He now primarily expresses himself in reaction to other characters. He does a lot of silent emoting, using only his facial expressions, and that's not something we've seen much of before. Don is usually a man of action. He is the one doing things, while other characters "root from the sidelines." You might say, he is the one who knocks. Not so in "Waterloo":

alarm

disgust

incredulity and anger

defiance

melancholy, grief and disappointment

defeat

wonder and awe

consternation

amusement, surprise and pride

intensity and candor

pride, enthusiasm and candor

disbelief, Stendhal syndrome and candor

"Candor" should really be the caption for each of these photos, though, because he's being authentic in every single one. 

And you know who has candor in spades?

"We're starving for it."

Peggy is often so blunt and opinionated that it gets her into trouble—or at least makes it terribly difficult for her to fit in socially. And she wants to get ahead in a man's world as much if not more than Joan does, but she never uses sex or any other unscrupulous methods to do so. 


In more than one example throughout the series, Weiner has introduced plot lines that reveal Peggy's naiveté, which has now blossomed into a more mature, more-honest-than-most approach.

"I don't understand...I tried to do my job, I follow the rules; and people hate me.
Innocent people get hurt and other people, people who are not good, get to
walk around doing anything they want. It's not fair!"

The problem with Peggy's openness is that it has taught her to toe the line more often than not. She doesn't take big Draper-esque risks. She plays by the rules in order to get ahead. But that often leaves her rather vulnerable, and superiors, like Lou, can shroud her abilities from the world very easily—because Peggy's never able to see his devious tactics coming. And as a boss, Peggy's fairness can be misread as weakness. When she gets snippy because her underlings aren't respecting her, it's read as immaturity, and then she's taken even less seriously. 

Whereas Don needs to learn the meaning of "we," Peggy needs to learn the meaning of "me." And this is how the two balance each other.

Don: You can't tell people what they want. It has to be what you want.
Peggy: I want to go to the movies.

Don is very good at thinking of himself and his own desires, so coming up with a tag line might be somewhat easier for him. But Peggy has a natural empathy and an ability to tap into what a group wants. This clouds her judgment sometimes, as it does when she's struggling to come up with the Burger Chef pitch. The trick is for her to use that natural empathy to lead the group she's been so busy observing. So instead of feeling bad that she doesn't fit in with the moms in their station wagons and wondering what business she has telling them what they should be buying, she needs to be brave enough to say, in 1969, This is what I want, and this should be what you want, too. Peggy has access to so much more information than they do—if anything, it's her responsibility as a modern woman to guide them.


Good Housekeeping, June 1969


Lou says during the first Burger Chef meeting, "And who gives moms permission? Dads." But in July 1969, with more moms working outside of the home, with more buying power, this consumerism is starting to be shared (see my post on "The Strategy"). Which means women are going to become less interested in buying domestic-care goods and more interested in staying youthful, beautiful and alluring, the latest hot commodity (a la Naomi Wolf's The Beauty Myth). And as they pursue the American dream—working hard and making enough money to afford satisfying leisure time—they're also going to be interested in convenience, in making the best use of that leisure time. So, less home cooking and cleaning, more fun with family.

On the one hand, this is great, because a mom with a fulfilling career is less likely to experience Betty Friedan's Feminine Mystique and be resentful of her husband (or lack thereof) and kids for stealing her identity from her. But on the other, she's more likely to, like Don, make up for her new lack of quantity time with her family with cold, hard cash. And her kids are more likely to go watch TV at the neighbor's house when they're stuck at home alone. 

In "Waterloo," Julio echoes Peggy's sentiment from season one mentioned above. Do you remember what he tells her about having to move to Newark for his mom's job? 

"It's not fair."

Hold on...that looks familiar.

"What did I do wrong?"

Talk about passing a baton.

So it's only fitting that Peggy would insert Julio into her Burger Chef pitch. (And she seems to do so without Don's prior knowledge—he looks surprised when she mentions it, like she's pulling a Draper and saying things she's just thought of on the spot.)

"Tonight, I'll go back to New York, and I'll go back to my apartment and find a 10-year-old boy, parked in front of my TV, eating dinner."

What she's describing is the perfect environment for the birth of a Fast Food Nation.

In his 2002 New York Times bestseller, later turned into a film, Eric Schlosser took a behind-the-scenes look at how the earliest fast food restaurants emerged and how they changed the country into what it is today:

"In 1970, Americans spent about $6 billion on fast food; in 2001, they spent more than $110 billion. Americans now spend more money on fast food than on higher education, personal computers, computer software or new cars. They spend more on fast food than on movies, books, magazines, newspapers, videos and recorded music—combined.

"On any given day in the United States, about one-quarter of the adult population visits a fast food restaurant. During a relatively brief period of time, the fast food industry has helped to transform not only the American diet, but also our landscape, economy, workforce and popular culture. Fast food and its consequences have become inescapable, regardless of whether you eat it twice a day, try to avoid it or have never taken a single bite.

"In 1975, about one-third of American mothers with young children worked outside the home; today, almost two-thirds of such mothers are employed. As the sociologists Cameron Lynne Macdonald and Carmen Sirianni have noted, the entry of so many women into the workforce has greatly increased demand for the types of services that housewives traditionally perform: cooking, cleaning and child care. A generation ago, three-quarters of the money used to buy food in the United States was spent to prepare meals at home. Today about half of the money used to buy food is spent at restaurants—mainly at fast food restaurants.

(photo found on Internet—not in Fast Food Nation)
"[In 1940], Southern California had recently given birth to an entirely new lifestyle—and a new way of eating. Both revolved around cars. The cities back East had been built in the railway era, with central business districts linked to outlying suburbs by commuter train and trolley. But the tremendous growth of Los Angeles occurred at a time when automobiles were finally affordable. Between 1920 and 1940, the population of southern California nearly tripled, as about 2 million people arrived from across the United States…it was the first large-scale migration conducted by car. Los Angeles soon became unlike any other city the world had ever seen, sprawling and horizontal, a thoroughly suburban metropolis of detached homes—a glimpse of the future, molded by the automobile. About 80% of the population had been born elsewhere; about half had rolled into town during the previous five years.

Don visiting Anna in L.A.
"The automobile offered drivers a feeling of independence and control. Daily travel was freed from the hassles of rail schedules, the needs of other passengers and the location of trolley stops. More importantly, driving seemed to cost much less than using public transport—an illusion created by the fact that the price of a new car did not include the price of building new roads. Lobbyists from the oil, tire and automobile industries, among others, had persuaded state and federal agencies to assume that fundamental expense. Had the big auto companies been required to pay for the roads—in the same way that trolley companies had to lay and maintain track—the landscape of the American West would look quite different today.

"The nation's car culture reached its height in southern California, inspiring innovations such as the world's first motel and the first drive-in bank. A new form of eating place emerged. 'People with cars are so lazy, they don't want to get out of them to eat!' said Jessie G. Kirby, the founder of an early drive-in restaurant chain. Kirby's first 'Pig Stand' was in Texas, but the chain soon thrived in Los Angeles, alongside countless other food stands offering 'curb service.' In the rest of the United States, drive-ins were usually a seasonal phenomenon, closing at the end of every summer. In southern California, it felt like summer all year long, the drive-ins never closed and a whole new industry was born. 
(photo found on the Internet—not in Fast Food Nation)
"The southern California drive-in restaurants of the early 1940s tended to be gaudy and round, topped with pylons, towers and flashing signs. They were 'circular meccas of neon,' in the words of drive-in historian Michael Witzel, designed to be easily spotted from the road. The triumph of the automobile encouraged not only a geographic separation between buildings, but also a manmade landscape that was loud and bold. 

"After World War II, business soared at Carl [Karcher's] Drive-In Barbeque, along with the economy of southern California. The oil business and the film business had thrived in Los Angeles during the 1920s and 1930s. But it was World War II that transformed southern California into the most important economic region in the West. The war's effect on the state, in the words of historian Carey McWilliams, was a 'fabulous boom.' Between 1940 and 1945, the federal government spent nearly $20 billion in California, mainly in and around Los Angeles, building airplane factories and steel mills, military bases and port facilities. During those six years, federal spending was responsible for nearly half of the personal income in southern California. By the end of World War II, Los Angeles was the second-largest manufacturing center in America, with an industrial output surpassed only by that of Detroit. While Hollywood garnered most of the headlines, defense spending remained the focus of the local economy for the next two decades, providing about one-third of its jobs. 

(photo found on Internet—not in Fast Food Nation)
"By the end of the 1940s, [Richard and Maurice McDonald] had grown dissatisfied with their drive-in business. They were tired of constantly looking for new carhops and short-order cooks—who were in great demand—as the old ones left for higher-paying jobs elsewhere. They were tired of replacing the dishes, glassware and silverware their teenage customers constantly broke or ripped off. And they were tired of their teenage customers. The brothers thought about selling the restaurant. Instead, they tried something new. The McDonalds fired all their carhops in 1948, closed their restaurant, installed larger grills and reopened three months later with a radically new method of preparing food. It was designed to increase the speed, lower prices and raise the volume of sales. The brothers eliminated almost two-thirds of the items on their old menu. They got rid of everything that had to be eaten with a knife, spoon or fork. The only sandwiches now sold were hamburgers or cheeseburgers. The brothers got rid of their dishes and glassware, replacing them with paper cups, paper bags and paper plates. They divided the food preparation into separate tasks performed by different workers. To fill a typical order, one person grilled the hamburger; another 'dressed' and wrapped it; another prepared the milk shake; another made the fries; and another worked the counter. For the first time, the guiding principles of a factory assembly line were applied to a commercial kitchen. The new division of labor meant that a worker only had to be taught one task. Skilled and expensive short-order cooks were no longer necessary. All of the burgers were sold with the same condiments: ketchup, onions, mustard and two pickles. No substitutions were allowed. The McDonald brothers' Speedee Service System revolutionized the restaurant business. An ad of theirs seeking franchisees later spelled out the benefits of the system: 'Imagine—No Carhops—No Waitresses—No Dishwashers—No Bus Boys—The McDonald's System is Self-Service!'

(photo found on Internet—not in Fast Food Nation)




"America's fast food chains were not launched by big corporations relying upon focus groups and market research. They were started by door-to-door salesmen, short-order cooks, orphans and dropouts, by eternal optimists looking for a piece of the next big thing. The start-up costs of a fast food restaurant were low, the profit margins promised to be high and a wide assortment of ambitious people were soon buying grills and putting up signs.

"'One of the highlights of my 61st birthday celebration,' President Richard Nixon wrote in 1974, 'was when Tricia suggested we need a "break" on our drive to Palm Springs, and we turned in at McDonald's. I had heard for years from our girls that the "Big Mac" was really something special, and while I've often credited Mrs. Nixon with making the best hamburgers in the world, we are both convinced that McDonald's runs a close second...The next time the cook has a night off, we will know where to go for fast service, cheerful hospitality—and probably one of the best food buys in America.' 

(photo found on Internet—not in Fast Food Nation)
(photo found on Internet—not in Fast Food Nation)
(photo found on Internet—not in Fast Food Nation)

(photo found on Internet—not in Fast Food Nation)


(photo found on Internet—not in Fast Food Nation)


(photo found on Internet—not in Fast Food Nation)

"Walt Disney and Ray Croc [who served in the same Red Cross unit in World War I] were masterful salesmen. They perfected the art of selling things to children. And their success led many others to aim marketing efforts at kids, turning America's youngest consumers into a demographic group that is now avidly studied, analyzed and targeted by the world's largest corporations.




Ray Kroc (photo found on Internet—
not in Fast Food Nation)
"Ray Kroc could only dream, during McDonald's tough early years, of having such marketing tools at his disposal. He was forced to rely instead on his wits, his charisma and his instinct for promotion. Kroc believed completely in whatever he sold and pitched McDonald's franchises with an almost religious fervor. He also knew a few things about publicity, having auditioned talent for a Chicago radio station in the 1920s and performed in nightclubs for years. Kroc hired a publicity firm led by a gag writer and a former MGM road manager to get McDonald's into the news. Children would be the new restaurant chain's target customers. The McDonald brothers had aimed for a family crowd, and now Kroc improved and refined their marketing strategy. He'd picked the right moment. America was in the middle of a baby boom; the number of children had soared in the decade after World War II. Kroc wanted to create a safe, clean, all-American place for kids. The McDonald's franchise agreement required every new restaurant to fly the Stars and Stripes. Kroc understood that how he sold food was just as important as how the food tasted. He liked to tell people that he was really in show business, not the restaurant business. Promoting McDonald's to children was a clever, pragmatic decision. 'A child who loves our TV commercials,' Kroc explained, 'and brings her grandparents to a McDonald's gives us two more customers.' 

The late-1960s expansion of the McDonald's restaurant chain coincided with declining fortunes at the Walt Disney Company. Disney was no longer alive, and his vision of America embodied just about everything that kids of the 1960s were rebelling against. Although McDonald's was hardly a promoter of whole foods and psychedelia, it had the great advantage of seeming new—and there was something trippy about Ronald McDonald, his clothes and his friends. As the McDonald's mascot began to rival Mickey Mouse in name recognition, Kroc made plans to create his own Disneyland…. Instead of investing in a large theme park, the company pursued a more decentralized approach. It built small Playlands and McDonaldlands all over the United States. 


Talk about cradle-to-grave
(photo found on Internet—not in Fast Food Nation)
"The fantasy world of McDonaldland borrowed a good deal from Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom. Don Ament, who gave McDonaldland its distinctive look, was a former Disney set designer. Richard and Robert Sherman—who had written and composed, among other things, all the songs in Disney's Mary Poppins, Disneyland's 'It's a Great, Big Beautiful Tomorrow' and 'It's a Small World After All'—were enlisted for the first McDonaldland commercials. Ronald McDonald, Mayor McCheese and the other characters in the ads made McDonald's seem like more than just another place to eat. McDonaldland—with its hamburger patch, apple pie trees and Filet-O-Fish fountain—had one crucial thing in common with Disneyland. Almost everything in it was for sale. McDonald's soon loomed large in the imagination of toddlers, the intended audience for the ads. The restaurant chain evoked a series of pleasing images in a youngster's mind: bright colors, a playground, a toy, a clown, a drink with a straw, little pieces of food wrapped up like a present. Kroc had succeeded, [like Walt Disney], at selling something intangible to children, along with their fries."

(photo found on Intenet—not in Fast Food Nation)

"James U. McNeal, a professor of marketing at Texas A&M University, is considered America's leading authority on marketing to children… He has been studying 'Kid Kustomers' for more than 30 years and believes in a more traditional marketing approach. 'The key is getting children to see a firm…in much the same way as [they see] Mom or Dad, Grandma or Grandpa,' McNeal argues. 'Likewise, if a company can ally itself with universal values such as patriotism, national defense and good health, it is likely to nurture belief in it among children.'

(photo found on Internet—not in Fast Food Nation)
"In May of 1996, the Walt Disney Company signed a 10-year global marketing agreement with the McDonald's Corporation. By linking with a fast food company, a Hollywood studio typically gains anywhere from $25 million to $45 million in additional advertising for a film, often doubling its ad budget. These licensing deals are usually negotiated on a per-film basis; the 1996 agreement with Disney gave McDonald's exclusive rights to that studio's output of films and videos. Some industry observers thought Disney benefited more from the deal, gaining a steady source of marketing funds. According to the terms of the agreement, Disney characters could never be depicted sitting in a McDonald's restaurant or eating any of the chain's food. In the early 1980s, the McDonald's Corporation had turned away offers to buy Disney; a decade later, McDonald's executives sounded a bit defensive about having given Disney greater control over how their joint promotions would be run. 'A lot of people can't get used to the fact that two big global brands with this kind of credibility can forge this kind of working relationship,' a McDonald's executive told a reporter. 'It's about their theme parks, their next movie, their characters, their videos…It's bigger than a hamburger. It's about the integration of our two brands, long-term.'

(photo found on Internet—not in Fast Food Nation)
"The life's work of Walt Disney and Ray Kroc had come full-circle, uniting in perfect synergy. McDonald's began to sell its hamburgers and french fries at Disney's theme parks.* The ethos of McDonaldland and of Disneyland, never far apart, have finally become one. Now you can buy a Happy Meal at the Happiest Place on Earth."

*By the end of 2008, however, this relationship had ended and the McDonald's presence in Disney World was phased out.

As George Peyton explains to Pete Campbell about Burger Chef's business in Los Angeles, "You can't be in the hamburger business without taking a swing at Disneyland." Though Schlosser's book largely talks about McDonald's, the fast food trajectory is relatively the same. After all, the Happy Meal idea originated at Burger Chef.

"What if there was a place where you could go, where there was no TV, and you could break bread, and whoever you were sitting with was family?"


Peggy is that place for Julio. But so are Burger Chef, McDonald's, KFC, Pizza Hut, Domino's, Burger King, Wendy's, Arby's and Taco Bell.

"This is a suit, and it has gray in it, which is what men wear..."

And Julio is that place for Peggy. Notice how in this episode she even asks him for fashion advice?

Mad Men, "Time Zones"

But who provides that safe haven for Don?


When Don's packing for the trip to Indianapolis, his confusion about what to wear mirrors Peggy's—and shows he's just as nervous about his wardrobe (though his choices differ in necktie alone).

And even more than the neckties striped in Burger Chef colors worn this episode by Don and Pete, Peggy's final decision greatly reflects her sales pitch.

I am not thrilled that a woman, or whatever
Peggy counts as, is giving this pitch...

She nixes the gray suit and the stripey number with the tie (which she probably loves because she wore it the day Lou gave her that promotion) and goes with a more youthful number instead. Many have noticed how much it resembles Julio's striped shirt, which makes sense because she's very much representing him and his sensibilities as a Burger Chef customer.



But she also looks an awful lot like these guys (or at least her neckerchief does):


Burger Chef mascots

And this lady:

The Girl Scout Code

"I will do my best to be
honest and fair,
friendly and helpful,
considerate and caring,
courageous and strong
and responsible for what I say and do,
and to respect myself and others,
respect authority,
uses resources wisely,
make the world a better place
and be a sister to every Girl Scout." 

Yeah, that sounds like Peggy.

So, to recap: Peggy represents children. Peggy represents Burger Chef. Peggy represents America.

Sounds like a winning pitch to me.

Vintage Girl Scouts of America ad
And if that's not enough to convince viewers of Peggy's projected patriotic persona, Mad Men costumer Janie Bryant shows the kerchief again in a later scene:


And then again a few minutes after that:




Peggy's more youthful number, of course, also has a high hemline, like nearly every single dress we've seen this half-season. Remember, when this show started, the ladies dressed like this: 




In her 2013 article "The History of Hemlines," writer Nina Koo-Seen-Lin talked about this for the Women's History Network:

"The designers, the haute couture fashion houses and the ever-changing seasons—they all have a high influence on fashion. But have you ever considered the historical impact on style trends? According to the 1927 Hemline Index, the length of our ancestors' skirt or dress could actually indicate a country’s wealth, prosperity and general well-being of the time. 

Mad Men, "The Runaways"

"Swinging 1960s: The '60s saw rising levels of fiscal prosperity and—with the invention of the teenager—young people began to rule the roost for the very first time. Short hemlines are unmistakably interwoven with this era, thanks to the arrival of the miniskirt (created by Mary Quant): the physical embodiment of a world daring to push new boundaries.


Good Housekeeping, May 1969
"Disco Dancing 1970s: Social and economic discontent increased by the '70s, with the onset of the Vietnam War, unexpected inflation and the embargo on oil in 1973. Stock values began to slump and floor-length maxi skirts came back into fashion for the first time since the Depression. Laura Ashley was a popular designer with her peasant style smock dresses and tunics."






Everything old is new again: 
Good Housekeeping, June 2014

As women with more financial power, like Peggy, continued to follow the youthful trends in the late 1960s, they found that those short hemlines inevitably required a great pair of hose. In "Waterloo," this really stands out—many of the female characters, including Sally, are in a tight pair of stockings and it's the middle of July.

(Her legs just aren't than tan naturally...)
In July 2009, Joseph Caputo uncovered the history of this phenomenon for the Smithsonian in "50 Years of Pantyhose":

"Love them or hate them, the once-ubiquitous women’s accessory was a revolutionary invention that helped transform women’s fashion.

"The story of pantyhose runs in the Gant family. Since the late Allen Gant Sr. introduced the first pair in 1959, his descendants have watched the garment move from high fashion to optional accessory. Three generations of women have now experienced waist-to-toe stockings, and few would be surprised to discover that a man invented pantyhose. But here’s the twist—it was at the request of his wife.

"According to Allen Gant Jr., the inventor’s son, Gant Sr. and his wife Ethel Boone Gant were on the overnight train to North Carolina, returning home from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, when a pregnant Ethel informed her husband that this would be her last trip with him—at least until the birth of their child. It was nothing personal, just a matter of comfort. Managing her stockings and garter belt over her expanding belly was becoming difficult, and being a proper lady, she would not be seen in public without her hosiery.

"The year was 1953 and if you were a woman, a night on the town meant either squeezing into a girdle or slipping on a garter belt. Formal dress dictated that females wear such intimate, and often uncomfortable, articles of clothing. How else could you hold up your nylons?

Good Housekeeping, August 1969
"Allen Gant Sr., then running textile company Glen Raven Mills, was inspired by his wife’s lament. 'How would it be if we made a pair of panties and fastened the stockings to it?' he asked Ethel. She stitched some crude garments together, tried them on and handed the products to her husband. 'You've got to figure out how to do this,' she said. Allen brought his wife’s experiment into the office, and with the help of his colleagues Arthur Rogers, J. O. Austin and Irvin Combs, developed what they later called 'Panti-Legs.' Their product—the world’s first commercial pantyhose—began lining department store shelves in 1959.

"'It was wonderful,' a 74-year-old Ethel Gant told the Associated Press 30 years later. 'Most people my age loved them from the very beginning and couldn’t wait to get a hold of them. I don’t think we’ve ever changed our minds,' she said.

"Allen Gant Sr. had at least one satisfied customer, but the panty-stocking combo did not grab most women’s attentions at first. Though the convenience of not having to wear a girdle or garter belt was a plus, what helped pantyhose take hold was the rise of the miniskirt in the mid-1960s.

Left: Peggy Olson. Right: Good Housekeeping, May 1969
"For the fashion-conscious woman looking to wear a skirt shorter than stockings are long, pantyhose were the perfect fit. When iconic models such as Jean Shrimpton and Twiggy donned their mini skirts, demand for pantyhose exploded and women flocked to the stores for pairs of their own.

"'When Twiggy came along, you couldn’t even bar the door,' says Gant Jr., who now holds his father’s previous position as president of Glen Raven Mills. Simultaneously, new kinds of sewing techniques and fabrics—like spandex—brought the cost of the pantyhose down while increasing the range of sizes that could be offered.

"By the 1970s and 1980s, pantyhose were a staple in every teen and woman’s wardrobe. As more women headed into the workplace, sales of pantyhose only grew. In return, hosiery manufacturers continued to market new colors, textures, sizes and technology. 'The silkiest ever,' teased one Hanes advertisement. 'No one knows I’m wearing support pantyhose,' declared another.

"Those glory days came to an end in the 1990s, a shift that Hosiery Association President Sally Kay attributes to a more relaxed work environment. 'You saw the fashion pendulum swing more towards the casual,' she says. The industry witnessed a decline in pantyhose sales, and an increase in other products, such as tights and—with the rise of pants in the workplace—trouser socks.

"Today, many women no longer feel pressured to don hosiery at all. First Lady Michelle Obama, considered a fashion trendsetter, has placed the garment in the retired pile. 'I stopped wearing pantyhose a long time ago because it was painful. Put 'em on, rip 'em—it’s inconvenient,' she said on talk show The View last year. Valerie Steele, director and chief curator of The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, is also not a fan. 'It doesn’t look good for pantyhose,' she says, 'The long-term trend is for people to dress more and more casually.'

"Though numbers are down, with 1.4 billion pairs of pantyhose sold in 2008, it doesn’t appear that pantyhose will go extinct anytime soon. For women in more conservative work environments, pantyhose are still a must. Some others still prefer the more traditional option. 'Today’s consumer envisions hosiery as more of an accessory,' Kay explains.

"Although Allen Gant Jr. doesn’t distribute pantyhose through Glen Raven Mills, his father’s legacy remains. 'I don’t think he had any idea pantyhose would change fashion the way it did,' Gant Jr. says. From the runway, to the office and now stored away in women’s dresser drawers, the garment has gone through several life cycles. But that’s the order of things in the industry. As designer Coco Chanel once said, 'Fashion is made to become unfashionable.'"

And in 1969, if for whatever reason a woman was not wearing pantyhose (perhaps she'd given in to wearing actual shorts in the sweltering summer), God forbid she wore anything on her feet that didn't resemble hose: 

Good Housekeeping,
April 1969


Good Housekeeping, May 1969


Everything old is new again: Good Housekeeping, July 2014






At least there's some evidence of women going bare-legged right down to their feet and wearing sandals in this time period (see Life magazine, above), though on the show so far we've only seen that on Megan in California and Bonnie (in New York, to her regret—regardless of what that Life magazine depicts, shopping in only sandals all day on Fifth Avenue is almost always a mistake), and Megan's almost always barefoot anyway:


Mad Men, "Time Zones"

Mad Men, "The Strategy"

Good Housekeeeping, June 1969

Everything old is new again:
Good Housekeeping, July 2014

And speaking of California, it's basically SC&P's latest client. The company has invested in it, and based on what Fast Food Nation has to say about the powerhouse state in that time period, you can bet they'll be successful.

Good Housekeeping, May 1969
Good Housekeeping, May 1969


Good Housekeeping, July 1969

Good Housekeeping, July 1969

And now that they have McDonald's as a client (since they'll be owned by McCann), they won't have to worry about it in 10 years or so when Burger Chef can no longer compete.

I have to wonder, though, if Burger Chef's real-life licensing deals had anything to do with its demise (see below).

'Cause that's not creepy...

Considering SC&P's nearly guaranteed success rate now, you can plan on seeing a lot more of Peggy's gray suit idea next half-season.

As Linda Przybyszewski writes in The Lost Art of Dress,  "All fashion trends come to an end, and the pendulum did swing back toward greater formality in dress in the mid-1970s. 'Kooky has been de-emphasized,' a J.C. Penney manager said of teenage clothing in 1974. 'The look is neater.'
"And grown women eventually grew tired of dressing like children.


"Men had experimented with the colorful peacock look of the 1960s and the hippie look of the 1970s, but by 1974 store buyers had 'retreated' to the 'relative safety of the classics'—the usual navy blue jacket, gray trousers and button-down shirt. This made the timing of John Molloy's first Dress for Success book in 1975 perfect...Molloy also turned his eyes toward women who were entering the business world in the 1970s with greater ambitions than the secretarial pool. Fashion offered them nothing, he complained. European designers, who were peddling a haute peasant/hippie look, were trying to keep women barefoot and pregnant. The current fashions made women look sexy and weak, Molloy wrote, and women who aped menswear too closely—fedora, pinstriped trouser-suit, tie—simply frightened people. Neither style of dress was going to get women into the corporate boardroom.

"Molloy's answer was a female version of the men's suit…with a long blazer cut along men's lines and a plain skirt. Only this type 'tested' well with businessmen of a certain age, the same men who controlled almost all of corporate America. As the Dress Doctors had decades earlier, Molloy recommended that businesswomen limit their suit colors to shades and tones. But, he warned, if you can only buy one suit, it had better be medium gray. Never mind that gray had never been recommended as a flattering color by the Dress Doctors. The idea was not to look good, but to look acceptable. This book became a best-seller, too. Thousands of women wrote Molloy thanking him for helping them up the career ladder by putting them in suits."

Which is only to say, as Gant Jr. noted in the Smithsonian article, the 1970s are only the beginning of the end for pantyhose. 

Peggy and Joan are both seen wearing pants this episode. And Megan wore jeans in "The Strategy." The only times I can remember seeing Betty wear pants were in the episode where she visits Bobby at summer camp and the day she and Don tell the kids about the divorce—while I'm sure there were other times, they weren't frequent. But I think we'll be seeing a lot more of them going forward.



And we'll likely see less modesty and formality in the dress of female characters around the house. Peggy greets male characters at the door in her pajamas and house coat twice in this episode (and something tells me she hangs out in that robe all the time, not just after a shower). In July 1969, Good Housekeeping ran an entire article on the new "lounging lingerie":


Good Housekeeping, July 1969

Even the gentlemen of the show are getting a bit more casual:

Good Housekeeping, June 1969
Mad Men, "The Strategy"


Good Housekeeping, June 1969 (aka, "Tan Roger")

Mad Men, Season 7 Promos

Everything old is new again:
Vanity Fair, June 2014
(the one with Jon Hamm on the cover)

And as women like Peggy gain more confidence outside of the home, their hairstyles are bound to be a bit more loose and free-flowing. Based on nearly every red carpet shot in the past month or so, it's safe to say that most of the ladies of Mad Men will be long-haired next season. And if they don't naturally have long hair, they'll find some way to supplement that (as Jessica Paré has done in almost every Megan episode this half-season):

Good Housekeeping, July 1969

Good Housekeeping, July 1969

It's a very different look from how women were wearing their hair after the last big shared television experience of the 1960s, depicted on the show:

Good Housekeeping, February 1964

The date of that issue is February, which means the editors orchestrated this photo shoot in November 1963, just after JFK was assassinated. It's no coincidence that so many of these models look just like Jackie (and are featured in the issue only a few pages after her own profile):

Good Housekeeping, February 1964

It seems that any time Matthew Weiner and crew decide to incorporate a real, iconic, nation-changing event from history into an episode of Mad Men, the inevitable result is a major shift in appearances like this. Even Peggy went from long-haired ponytail to shorter bob in season two after the "Are you a Jackie or a Marilyn?" campaign:

OK, so you're an effeminate advertising creative and
 I'm supposed to believe you know how to cut hair because...?

And soon after the nation fell even more in love with Jackie O., after Kennedy's death, we see Peggy with more of a Jackie-esque bouffant in season three:



Thank goodness this look was toned down by the time she had to give the biggest pitch of her life—but it's not by much.




Around the time Peggy gets her hair makeover in season two, Don takes a business trip out to southern California. In that episode, "The Mountain King," Anna Draper gives him a tarot card reading (which is unsurprising, since it's California in the 1960s).

Mad Men, "The Mountain King"


 What is surprising, though, is what the reading reveals.

Don: I have been watching my life. It's right there. I keep scratching at it, trying to get into it. I can't.
Don: [holding out Meditations in an Emergency] Did you read it?
Anna: I did. It reminded me of New York. And it made me worry about you.
Don: What about the cards? Should I be worried?
Anna: It's all here. You're definitely in a strange place. But here's the Sun.
Don: [pointing to the Judgment card] That can't be good.
Anna: It is.
Don: It's the end of the world.
Anna: It's the resurrection. Do you wan to know what this means or not?
Don: No, I don't. I can smell the ocean.

Anna: [pointing to the World card] This is the one.
Don: Who's she?
Anna: She's the soul of the world. She's in a very important spot here. This is you; what you are bringing to the reading. She says you are part of the world. Air, water, every living thing is connected to you.
Don: It's a nice thought.
Anna: It is.
Don: What does it mean?
Anna: It means the only thing keeping you from being happy is the belief that you are alone.
Don: What if it's true?
Anna: Then you can change.
Don: People don't change.
Anna: I think she stands for wisdom. Once you live, you learn things.

Line Hollis does an excellent analysis of this scene and what the reading means for Don, coming from an experienced tarot reader's perspective, here. 

This is my favorite part of what she writes:

"Anna sees major painful change coming for her friend (Judgement, The Wheel of Fortune, 8 of Wands) and she tries to focus him on the positive aspects of it and how he can survive it. In her read of The World, she's telling him he needs to stop separating himself from others if he's going to make it through what's coming."

Don has to learn the meaning of "we."


As so many characters who have telescopes in their vicinity (Cutler, Megan, Bobby and Neal—though his is technically missing) become immersed in moon-landing fanaticism in "Waterloo," the character who's expressed the most wonder and fascination with the idea likely has no access to watching it unfold: Marigold.

"I'd like to go to the moon."

Yet she's likely interested in the cosmos in other ways, like Anna Draper, and studies tarot cards and astrology, which had a big boom during this time period.

Skip Stone explains that further in "The Astrology of the Hippy Movement," here: 

"The Hippy Movement was less of a movement and more of an unseen force that permeated the minds and hearts of hippies around the world. In cities, on college campuses, in communes, hippies everywhere were part of a collective consciousness that appeared rather suddenly in the 1960s. We shared a growing awareness of ourselves, our humanity and our environment. As we interacted with each other, we taught and learned about life, love, sex, drugs, peace, activism, freedom, cooperation, beauty, art and music. What is so amazing about this font of knowledge is its source. Virtually none of it came from our parents (unless they happened to be very aware themselves). None of it came from our schools, government or churches (unless you happened to be Buddhist or Hindu or Taoist already).

"I used to think the country was lonely; now I realize it's the city that is..."

"So where did all this knowledge and awareness come from? Astrologers point to the stars and the positions of the outermost planets, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. Beginning in October 1965, we witnessed a rare, powerful conjunction of Uranus and Pluto (it happens about once every 200 years or so). Uranus represents the urge to be free. It brings sudden changes usually by destroying the old to make room for the new. It replaces outdated attitudes with new, more constructive ones.
"When people ask, 'What happened to the Hippies?' they are wondering why the Summer of Love ended. Astrologically, planets and people change their positions over time. What motivated and inspired us astrologically no longer exists. Other forces dominate our lives at the present. However it serves no purpose to forget and bury the past. Let the past inspire us to improve our lives and those conditions surrounding us so that new generations may benefit from our wisdom and enlightenment. The moral, social, ethical and environmental dilemmas we face now are but a taste of things to come for our children and grandchildren. It's time we reexamine our lives, put the past in proper context, learn some important new lessons and relearn some old ones.
"I believe that we all have within us this incredible store of knowledge and wisdom. Certain conditions bring it out, be they astrological, social, chemical or spiritual. We must reignite the spiritual lamp so we can light the way for the generations to follow."



Let's take Don's tarot card reading one step further, then. Here's what the position of Uranus at his time of birth meant for him and his generation, according to The Astrologer's Handbook, first published in 1973:
"The sign position of Uranus indicates the motivations behind a person's wishes, hopes and goals, especially the goals set by the mind. It points to the type of friends a person is likely to seek, and the purpose and style of activity of the groups in which he belongs.

"Since Uranus takes seven years to go through one sign of the Zodiac, everyone born during a given seven-year period has Uranus in the same sign...Consequently, the sign position of Uranus is important in indicating generational differences—the common destiny of a large group of people who are born at the same time.

"Uranus in the sign of Pisces [Don's generation] indicates intuitive abilities and a scientific curiosity about the workings of the unconscious...They receive ideas through intuition and dreams. The fundamental motivating factor of Uranus in Pisces is to seek liberation from the mental and emotional influence of the past. There is a spiritual struggle to overcome past materialistic tendencies, combined with a seeking for higher spiritual identity....there can be impractical idealism, as well as unreliability and deceptiveness toward friends. There can also be an inclination to avoid facing unpleasant situations."

They receive ideas through intuition and dreams. You might even say they have visions.

Yes, Bert Cooper's song-and-dance number on the floors of Sterling Cooper & Partners was an unusual turn of pace for the show—but Don has received visits from any number of dead loved ones on this series—his half-brother, his father and Anna, to name a few. Interestingly, they never show the real Don Draper, whose identity he stole, coming back to talk to him. Maybe that's to come.

But who will remember Don when he's gone? Will he have negated his biggest worries, that he never did anything and never had anyone

Will he have realized, like Anna said, that "air, water, every living thing" is connected to him?

Despite Marigold's literal disconnection from society, she has something so many of the other Mad Men characters are searching for this half-season: a tribe.

And they find it together through watching a significant historical event on TV.

Mad Men, "Waterloo"


Mad Men, "Waterloo"

Mad Men, "Waterloo"

And through work.

Mad Men, "The Grown-Ups"


Mad Men, "Shut the Door, Have a Seat"


Mad Men, "Waterloo"
(And I'm pretty sure these suits on Roger and Don are identical to the ones above,
from the last time they all had to vote on the future of the company.)
But who makes up Don's tribe? As I asked earlier, if Peggy and Julio are each other's safe haven, who is Don's?

Mad Men, "Blowing Smoke"

Who is it that really makes the unknowable man feel known?

Is it this guy? (I mean, Don's basically his role model.)

Mad Men, "The Runaways"

Maybe Pete? (Don has helped him out time and again—he even paid his share so he could become a partner.)

Mad Men, "Time Zones"

Surely it's this fellow, who gave him his start (though drunkenly and unconsciously):

Mad Men, "Waldorf Stories"


Or maybe it's his loyal secretary, who works for him even when he's not in the office:

Mad Men, "A Day's Work"

Or maybe it's the beloved Bert, who once defended him when Pete Campbell threatened to reveal his true identity:

Mad Men, "The Hobo Code":
Bert: When you hit 40, you realize you've met or seen every kind of person there is, and I know what kind of person you are because I believe we are alike...by that I mean you are a productive and reasonable man and in the end completely self-interested. It's strength. We are different, completely unsentimental about all the people who depend on our hard work.


And what about Peggy, the one teaching him "how to have integrity" this season, according to Weiner? She has to be the one who knows Don best, right?

Mad Men, "The Suitcase":
Peggy: What happened?
Don: Somebody very important to me died.
Peggy: Who?
Don: The only person in the world who really knew me.
Peggy: That's not true.

No, the character who knows Don best is the one who has taught him the most about honesty, loyalty and consideration for others, the one from whom he's learned responsibility, the one who, for some reason or another, always catches him at his very lowest Dick Whitman points and yet always forgives him.








And Bobby, and Gene, of course, too. And I imagine they'll soon be spending a lot of time together at Burger Chef.





Despite the fact that the others can't be the most important source of security in Don's life, they are still as much a part of him as he is of them. Each one stays loyal to him this half-season, despite everything he's done in the past, and that's because he's shown loyalty to them and has helped them at various times out of the goodness of his heart.

The best things in life are free.

"A leader is loyal to his team," Bert says to Roger in this episode. "Don doesn't understand that."

Well, maybe now he does.

Here's a great tribute to some of Bert's best lines on the series. Bravo.

There was a terribly influential song that came out the same month as this episode, in the real 1969, absolutely more wide-stretching than "The Best Things in Life Are Free." As Don's around the same age Bert was when this song was written, it's likely to be an anthem for him the rest of his life (whether it ends, as many people are predicting, or doesn't by next year's finale). It goes something like this:







"Give Peace a Chance," by John Lennon (1969)

Two, one two three four

Everybody's talking about
Bagism, Shagism, Dragism, Madism
Ragism, Tagism, this-ism, that-ism
Ism ism ism

All we are saying is give peace a chance
All we are saying is give peace a chance

Everybody's talkin' 'bout ministers, sinisters
Bannisters and canisters, bishops and fishops
Rabbis and pop eyes, bye bye, bye byes

All we are saying is give peace a chance
All we are saying is give peace a chance

Let me tell you now
Everybody's talking about revolution
Evolution, masturbation, flagellation
Regulation, integrations, meditations
United Nations, congratulations

All we are saying is give peace a chance
All we are saying is give peace a chance

Everybody's talking about John and Yoko
Timmy Leary, Rosemary, Tommy Smothers
Bobby Dylan, Tommy Cooper, Derek Taylor
Norman Mailer, Alan Ginsberg, Hare Krishna, Hare Hare Krishna

All we are saying is give peace a chance
All we are saying is give peace a chance
All we are saying is give peace a chance



Until next year, "Take off your shoes."