Shut the Door. Have a Seat
by Bobbi Lurie
Dear Russell Bennetts, editor of Berfrois.
After seeing the god-awful Season Six finale of Mad Men, I have decided to throw away my television set. Here is a tweet I posted immediately after watching it:
Bobbi Lurie @BobbiLurie
n-n-n-nnooooooooo …. not the “redemption” thing ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ no. not that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!))))))))))))))))))))))))((((((((((((()))))))
I deleted this due to unspoken laws against posting spoilers. But I posted this the next morning:
I stand by this, even though I deleted that tweet as well.
Matt Weiner’s speedy, superficial finale leaves us with all “characters” acting out of character, all for the sake of a fake “epiphany” moment, familiar to every New Yorker moving to California, going to A.A., confessing to a group of confessors. All this after critics uniformly “blamed” Don Draper for “not changing.” Well, change he did and it isn’t a pretty picture… no one steps forward during Don’s psychotic break. Peggy turns vamp then shrew, Ted turns cad, Betty is talking good vs. bad.
Judgment day is coming.
We learn the only unforgivable sin is to believe you can’t be forgiven. This theme is the same we always get from Hollywood, U.S.A. In spite of duplicitous beings populating the planet, despite a world of suffering, American television viewers are believers that “the future” will be better. We must simply “admit we were powerless,” “admit to our past,” as if our “past” holds some buried treasure of pop-cultural, mind-blowing revelation. But sometimes, to paraphrase Freud, a cigar is just a cigar.
Our compulsions control us. We live for a tomorrow which never comes. The “better” and “better” rant by a self-help nation of over-privileged whiners, hides away the aging, the handicapped, the dying…
Mad Men has always shown us despicable humans who, other than Don, spared us the inner demons of their inner dialogues. It’s the lies which keep Mad Men alive. It’s the postures and the posing, of being other-than that hidden inner dialogue. It’s “the act” that keeps the greed for power going. Those who don’t comply are left to die unloved.
Samuel Beckett asks, do we mean love, when we say love?
Megan dumps Don after he finally empties out his bottles of booze. Bert Cooper, who knows of Don’s secret identity, pretends he doesn’t. “Moon River,” written in 1961 plays during the 1968 saccharine finale, seven years too late for Holly Golightly’s prostitution to be seen as cute. Duplicitous Bob has Joan in the palm of his hand in the form of a Norman Rockwell painting. Judy Collins’ Both Sides Now ends the show, justifying a musician-friend’s determination to have a ban placed on folk singers.
Most of all, it is Matt Weiner’s destruction of character in the service of a Hollywood-ending which sentimentalizes the idea that there is a happy end, that people are “saved” through self-revelation in a world where everyone else is constantly inventing a “self” which hides from revelation.
Do not present us with false gods. The yin needs the yang. And vice versa.
Perhaps Anatole Broyard said it best: “Authors who aren’t faithful to their characters remind me of people who lie about their dreams.”
Below, please find my interview with Don Draper, before he caved and ushered in America’s endless love affair with self-satisfied self-revelation. Quotes come from Don Draper as he played it through six seasons, along with my own imaginary sense of being Don Draper, killed at the end of Season Six. So yes, this is personal.
With all due contempt to Hollywood,
Shut the door. Have a seat.
(Don Draper speaks (before Season Six Finale)
Shut the door. Have a seat.
Yeah. Me too. Sure I am.
I’m late, but you’re not. Good work so far.
Maybe I’m late because I was spending time with my family reading the Bible.
Listen, I’m not here to tell you about Jesus. You already know about Jesus, either he lives in your heart or he doesn’t.
It wasn’t a lie, it was ineptitude with insufficient cover.
Yeah. Thanks. I guess my office does exude a level of success. But even though success is a reality, its effects are temporary. This sofa, for instance, there’s a stain… this stain on the sofa of my success… it’s driving me crazy…
… never mind …let’s get moving with this …
… sooo … I’m all yours. Ask me whatever you want. Just make sure the article comes with that four-color spread your publisher promised.
You want to talk about that? Why does everybody need to talk about everything?
Okay. That’s fine with me. That’s what the money’s for. Ask away.
Yes. That’s right. I’m an expert at mind control.
Why? Because I can. Because it’s there.
Why? Because I’m a whore… Yes. I’m a whore.
Oh, yeah, you, with your analyses of my fakeness because I took a dead guy’s name.
What did you do? You didn’t even name yourself. You let your parents name you. And they named you after a dead guy or a dead woo-man. What’s the difference? They’re all dead. Go ahead and cast the first stone, you sinner!
You see, I was given the looks. But I only exist in my own memory, in my head, just like you. We’re all the same. And we’re all going to die. And it’s going to happen sooner than you think. Get it? Good. You got something… True enough…. I’m living like there’s no tomorrow … because there isn’t one.
Betty? What about Betty? Do we have to talk about this now?
… No. I’m not changing what I said. I said it and I’ll live with the consequences. What I need to make clear is I told Betty I was waiting for her to ask me to stop; I was waiting for her to say no. No means no and I give everyone a chance to say no.
I wasn’t given a chance to say it. So, with Betty and me, it wasn’t pathetic. It was invited. And, as Betty said, it happened long ago.
Right, Miss Freud. Right. The cigarette. Yes, after. And before.
Are you sure you don’t want a drink?
But please: have a cigarette. …Second hand smoke? …. The air we breathe? … The air we breathe is time, my friend… Cigarettes have been around a lot longer than Freud.
Here’s an ashtray…. Take another hit of that. It’ll do you good. Thank you… Are you okay? Here. Take a sip of water. What? Poison?
…. Unbelievable…. And you’re here to criticize my generation… Ha! … There is no generation gap. It’s all pretty clear from where I’m sitting. People want to be told what to do so badly that they’ll listen to anyone. And you bought into some bottled water scam and I bet you won’t be at ease until you get your hands on one of those bottles… that’s how advertising works. We might as well end the interview here… You are the product. You feeling something. That’s what sells. End of interview.
Sorry. I’m sorry. Don’t cry. There’s nothing to be afraid of.
Please stop. Enough, already! Okay, I’ll tell you what I always say: our worst fears lie in anticipation. No? Okay. Everything will be okay? That’s it? Okay. Ask away.
Who cares if I’m unlovable? What’s it your business?… anyway, I’ve had a lot more women love me than …
Yeah, sure. I know I’m lucky. I can turn myself into a need just like I can with Mohawk or Sunkist. Once you want what I fake having, your misery leads you back to me. And me to you. We are the same. Do you get it? You, who claim holiness by buying into some scheme about bottled water? You think you’re better than me because I’m drinking an Old Fashioned and you’re not? I got news for you: I’m drinking to make you less boring to me. See? Whatever you have to say about me in this television show, the show you’re starring in is too boring to even turn on. … Yes. I meant it that way. You can print that. Yes. Exactly like I said. Word for word.
…Will you stop? First you keep me at arm’s length… then… okay… enough … Don’t.
Okay, I’ll tell you what I always say. Yes. Like before. Right. I’ll say everything will be okay. Okay. Ask away.
Change? What do you mean by change?
This change thing is fake. Change is neither good or bad, it simply is. I’ve done more to change than you ever did or could or would. I can tell by the way you dress. I can tell everything about you just by looking at you.
Anyway, how do you want me to change? What does that even mean? And who are you to ask me that? You, with your pseudo-Freudian analyses … I’ve changed my entire destiny. And you? You’re nothing but a hack writing about television shows. I’ll bet you don’t even know what an ampersand is. I do. I do my research. And I know who you are….
.. I … I …. I …. need to … stand up…. and make another drink. You’re too much …
There is no trust. There is just the image of what it’s supposed to be.
Anyway, why is sex the definition of being close to someone? Just because you climb a mountain doesn’t mean you love it.
Wait. Wait. What are you doing? … You don’t leave until I tell you to leave. Understand? I am giving you some of my valuable time so I want that essay written. Do you understand? We made a deal and I came prepared, even if you didn’t. …believing I’d buy into some bottled water scheme. But you signed the contract and I’m holding you to it. I want that four-color spread. So sit down.
You want some respect? Go out and get it for yourself. You can start with this essay. Just make it better than that other stuff you’ve written.
… okay. okay. I’m okay. I just fell asleep for a minute. Who are you? ….
… Sure…Sure. Yeah. ….just … grab …my hand and … puuuuulllll. Thanks. I need a drink… Where’s Roger? …Do you know how to make an Old Fashioned? Of course not.
.. my daughter, Sally, can make a Tom Collins and she’s only … she’s younger than you. … back to that drink. Here. Take my glass. … Take a sugar cube out of that thing over there … yes. Whatever you call it: pick up the lid. Put the sugar in the glass. What are you? A five year-old? Now listen. I need a drink now. Wet that sugar cube down with 2 or 3 dashes of those bitters … yes. Those bitters in the bottle … it starts with an A – whatever it’s called. Now add a short splash of that water you haven’t had a sip of because you think it’s poison, you gullible fool, ready for any ad campaign, thrown at you … Crush the sugar with that spoon… no? Here. Take my lighter. Crush it with that. Add an ice cube. Pour in the juice… Yes. The bottle… . Stir. Okay. Hand it over. Thank you. How did you ever even get a job?… Oh…that explains it. You do this for free. So you aren’t a whore? You’re worse than a whore. Right. Okay. That’s what a writer is. I get it.
Fine. Fine. I hate women. You got me there. But I hate men, too. Equal opportunity and all that crap.
What do I have? A hangover with a headache and a wife who … never mind …
No. I’m not a Sexaholic. What’s a Sexaholic? Do you guys of the future have a name for everything?
Actually, I don’t even care about sex. I’d be happy just to be held. Yes. I would. Hold me. Yes. Please hold me …
… I’ll tell you a secret, a secret you’ve been told but … never mind … no more waterworks from you, please. Okay. So here it is… I was raped… I was raped by a whore. My stepmother beat me for being raped. And she was right to beat me. Yes. It’s the only thing she was ever right about.
That whore ruined me. After she raped me, I went after anything in a skirt. I don’t know why. I can’t say why. They all made me sick. They all reminded me of that whore. Aimee is her name. I’ll never forget that whore. I hate all of them … Yes. I mean women. I hate all women. All of them. Every last one of them. Everyone except Anna who let me keep her dead husband’s name. She was my angel. Peggy wasn’t a whore either, not until Ted came along. That was the end for us. I didn’t care if she had a baby with creepy Pete.
Pete is non-existent.
I was there for Peggy; I was the only one who was there for her. My own mother died a whore. I let Peggy live. I was there when she gave the baby away. A baby boy. A baby boy like me. I told her she wouldn’t believe how much it never happened. She was my Madonna.
Yeah she forgets. They all forget. I told her it never happened, I told her she could forget it. It was pure forgiveness on my part. It was as if I were Jesus. See? You don’t believe I believe. But I forgave by forgetting. Peggy was my absolution. She was my protégé. She was the only woman, aside from Anna, and my daughter, Sally, who I never laid a finger on. Why? Because I loved them; I loved them for seeing me. Then they stopped seeing me so what’s the use? Yeah, Anna died so she didn’t count. She always saw me. But Peggy stopped. Even Sally stopped.
Yes… I know Sally hates me now. I am sorry about that but I never thought she’d love me to begin with. No one ever loved me to begin with. No one ever will. Anyway, love doesn’t exist. What you, and everyone else, calls love was invented by guys like me, to sell nylons.
Megan? … You call that love? … Megan wants to be somebody’s discovery, not somebody’s wife.
Yeah, sure. I thought she was my fairy princess. You get it, right? Disneyland? Cleaning up spilt milkshake. I thought she’d be good for my kids, and she has been. But she bores me. She’s nothing but a bad actress with a hot mother who speaks with a fake French accent… No. I’m not into French anything. Remember Aimee? That whole fake French thing … I served in Korea. As an American soldier, don’t forget. I voted for Nixon…No…Yes… It has been a bad year for Jesus.
You don’t believe what I said to you? Are you wasting my time? You know what? People tell you who they are, but we ignore it because we want them to be who we want them to be.
I’ll tell you something else: I don’t care what Matt Weiner does in the finale. I’m no two-bit Hollywood whore with a happy ending. I AM Don Draper. And I will haunt the spirit of Dick Whitman just as Dick Whitman haunted the spirit of Don Draper. A rose is a rose is a rose … I’m not ending up on Venice Beach rollerblading my way to the next A.A. Meeting.
I do not fit into a Norman Rockwell painting.
People would love that type of ending.
How do you think dictatorships are formed?!!!!
Give the masses what they want and they eat it up.
Ask Hannah Arendt.
It’s all banal.
… Good? … Good was what I gave you in my prime: Suffering And The End Of Suffering, just like The Buddha. I told you it never happened. I showed you the truth of The Insubstantiality of The Ego.
You feel bad for me? Well, I don’t think about you at all.
Fine. Go. The door is open. I’m going to take a nap anyway. Tell Dawn. Okay? Tell her to hold my calls. Have her bring me an aspirin. Nice to meet you, too … and all of that.
No hard feelings. No feelings at all. Because sentiment covers true feeling. This is a culture of invented epiphanies. I read that’s why you left poetry. I would have done the same. Yes. I would have.
Yeah, I know I’m hard to understand. Or … whatever … just keep your promise about the four-color spread. … or just don’t take out that photo of me, looking out into the distance … cigarette in hand … yes. Yes. Like The Marlboro Man … Sure, rub it in. I know my toasted ad wasn’t all that great. But it sedated your kind. …What do I mean by your kind? I mean the kind that interviews guys like me… instead of being me.
Yeah. You couldn’t be me. You’re too busy trying to be them. I’ll never be them. I promise you that. I dream while I’m awake. I’m a shaman. You know that. Forget Mad Men. It’s over. And when it’s over … it’s over. Don Draper lives. Just as Tony Soprano lives. Forever.
It’s your life. You don’t know how long it’s gonna last, but you know it doesn’t end well. You’ve gotta move forward … as soon as you can figure out what that means… So go… I really don’t care about the spread. Quit your job for all I care. Start over. Change your name. I just want to sleep…
… stop the tears… Here … I’ll tell you what to tell them. Tell them the next thing will be better, because it always is.
… Let’s take it a little slower, I don’t want to wake up pregnant.
Okay. You’re welcome. Call me in 2026 when you’re ready to do this right.
Now shut the door.
About the Author:
Bobbi Lurie’s fourth poetry collection, the morphine poems, was recently published by Otoliths. Her other books are Grief Suite, Letter from the Lawn and The Book I Never Read (CW Books). Her television reviews for Berfrois can be found here.