Mad Men, Season 5
Sally and Glen’s phone calls are touching and bizarre.
I’m a little shocked, Swans, that a connoisseur of American prep such as yourself could fail to recognize a rousing match of Hockrosscer when you see one. Trailing only Hacky Sack and Ultimate in the affections of athletically disinclined boarding schoolers like Glen, the game involves using lacrosse sticks to play hockey with a soccer ball. Purists insist on the regulation bowling alley, but in a pinch, a dorm corridor will do. Hockrosscer is basically an anagram, incidentally, for Hotchkiss, where the game is believed to have originated, c. 1965.
It’s funny to think of Sally Draper losing her innocence only now, given the range of adult experiences she’s had, and witnessed, already. Because Betty knew Glen’s walk-in-without-knocking history, and because she had felt her own transgressive intimacy for the boy, she never comprehended the innocence of the relationship between Sally and Glen. That innocence was on display again last night, as Glen counseled Sally, with the wisdom of years, “You’ll see when you break up. It hurts,” and Sally replied, somewhat bizarrely, “Not for the girl.” I fear that when she does start falling, Sally’s going to fall fast. Survey the assembly of solipsists and neurotics who pass for the adults in her life, and it’s awfully hard to spot the role model. Someone page Dr. Edna. It’s time for more Go Fish.
As much as I enjoyed the cringe-inducing manner in which Sally was inducted into the dirty world of adulthood, I’m heartbroken to think we won’t get to enjoy further installments of the odd-couple routine that was Roger and Sally. If Marie is right that Roger is just a little boy inside—and really, at this point, only Marie knows the answer to that one—then he made a perfect date for Sally, in the early innings, at any rate, giving her the skinny on the assembled magnates and treating her like a co-conspirator and peer. It was especially sweet of Roger to indulge Sally in this way when, in spite of his (and Mona’s) careful preparation, he had been cut out of the high-end schmoozing that Don, Ken, Pete, and even Megan were engaged in. Instead, he was relegated to the kid’s table. But he made the most of it.
Terrific observation, Julia, about how Peggy and Megan construe success in the ad game differently because of the distinct ways in which that particular brass ring might measure up against their expectations. Though I’m still not convinced that the severe intellectualism that prevents Emile from approving of Megan’s success in advertising would leave him much more positively disposed toward a Hollywood career. Perhaps, for Emile, the issue isn’t what you achieve, but that you work for it. “This apartment, this wealth that someone handed to you,” he says. “This is what Karl Marx was talking about.” Maybe you’re right, John, and it was the easiness of Megan’s inspiration on the beans account that forms the problem. Maybe Emile always wanted a work horse.
A final question: When Mrs. Olson arrived for dinner bearing her special cake, was she expecting Peggy and Abe to announce that they were engaged? On reconsidering the scene, it seems clear that she was, or at any rate, that’s how I read her remark, as they lingered after the meal, that, “This is taking a little longer than I thought.” If that’s the case, you can sort of understand her spite: In weighing her conflicting priorities, Peggy’s mother was ready to make peace with the prospect of her daughter marrying “the Jew,” as long as it meant that she was getting married. Instead, she was informed of this alternative arrangement—an arrangement, incidentally, that I suspect Peggy would have been perfectly happy with had Joan not introduced the expectation of anything more. Mrs. Olson is withering in that final encounter, and it’s devastating. But her overreaction feels real. No wonder she takes the baked goods back: In her view, she’s being asked to neither have her cake, nor eat it.
I’d buy you a drink, but I think they’re still free.
Patrick Radden Keefe is is a fellow at the Century Foundation and the author of The Snakehead: An Epic Tale of the Chinatown Underworld and the American Dream.