We opened onto what might as well have been a Sterling Cooper-designed commercial for the new Cadillac Coupe De Ville. Don’s shiny shoes circled the gleaming tires. The camera panned up to reveal our hunk of a man imagining himself sitting behind the wheel of a luxury vehicle, the open road stretched out invitingly before him. “Afraid you’ll fall in love?” said the elegant salesman, who purred with the seductive confidence of the Devil. It turns out that this new model “does everything but make breakfast,” he said, dismissing Don’s old car as “wonderful if you want to get somewhere.” Poor Betty. Why am I thinking she’s the Dodge in this equation?
“Look at you,” the salesman said, slim ribbons of smoke trailing out of his refined mouth. “I bet you’d be as comfortable in one of these as you would be in your own skin.” Wrong pitch, buddy! Don flashed back to 10 years prior, when he was nothing but an ambitious used-car salesman with a sherbet-colored tie and a puff of a pompadour. A woman who looked disconcertingly like a cross between January Jones and Rebecca De Mornay appeared in the shop, took a long, mournful look at the man, and declared the obvious. “You’re not Don Draper,” she said. I’m taking bets that she was the original Mrs. Draper and that it’s no great irony that the Don we’ve come to know and love/hate married a woman who looked exactly like her. Too corny? On with the show!
After Don landed the Martinson’s coffee account, with the help of Duck and the Smith and Smith boys, Mr. Cooper called him up to the big office. (Poor Duck was uninvited, left staring hungrily at Don’s cocktail cart.) Don had impressed the client so much that he’d been asked to join the board of the Museum of Early American Folk Art. Unimpressed at first, Don perked up when Mr. Cooper instructed him that “philanthropy is the gateway to power.” Apparently “whirligig” supporters wield untold influence and Don ought to get used to having his tuxedo always on the ready. As Cooper yammered on about carrots and curtains, I half-expected him to offer the younger man the gate code to the Eyes Wide Shut house. His boss reminded Don that he knew something of his past, but it was his future as a man of enormous social power that mattered.
Off to the dealership Don went to get his rightful throne. He gave his family some strict ground rules when it came to the new ride. No sex in the front seat, no Silly Putty in the back. And the kids’ hands had to be double-checked for stickiness before they scrabbled into the car after a family picnic. Don, a regular steward of the Earth, hurled his empty can into the wild blue yonder and Betty flapped her blanket in the wind, scattering trash onto the hill. What respect for the land — and you wonder why some of your parents and grandparents roll their eyes at threats of global warming!
NEXT: A man’s man