Thursday, February 24, 2011


 by Brendan Cavanagh

In the above picture you will see, from left to right, the author, his friend David Garvey and their television alter-egos, Roger Sterling and Don Draper.  The latter two men are the stars of the hit AMC series Mad Men, which centers around the personal and professional lives of a group of men and women who work for an advertising agency in New York City in the early 1960s.  In some ways, our identification with the two men is somewhat superficial, as we like to think of ourselves as two dapper, suave young gentlemen with opalescent prospects.  However, certain personality traits in the two characters have found themselves exemplified in David and I.

For instance, apart from bearing a resemblance to the man, David relates to Don Draper, the handsome, brilliant, albeit entirely enigmatic Creative Director in a more romantic, social sense.  An adequate guide for attracting women in which David takes stock has most fortunately been provided by Don Draper himself!  There are four main steps:

One. "When in doubt, remain absolutely silent."

David, you see, attends Lincoln Land Community College, which serves as his primary arena for attracting women (though I imagine he may see some results one of the next times he does his "Brad Pitt Workout" in the basement of the YMCA). He talks to girls, but has found that in the field of talking to girls, talking to girls is not always his strong suit.  However, once he embraced his identity as Don Draper, he began to stop talking so eagerly and incessantly, favoring instead to remain in silence throughout class and prospering heavily at its result.  He said to me earlier tonight in regard to this step, "You know how many girls at LLCC approached me?  Let me think.  At least 6."

Two. "When asked about your past, give vague, open-ended answers."

David does not like to discuss his one serious, high school relationship of several years.  It is a dead subject that paints a picture of an entirely different person, and he is happy with his distinct personality he possess today.  However, not everyone else is so willing to forget.  When asked about his relationship, David will respond with such replies as, "I don't know, I don't remember, I can't talk about it, If only you knew, If I could tell you or It's a long story."  An almost guaranteed moratorium on past relationship talk.

Three.  "Have a great name."

Come on.  Don't tell me that you didn't notice the rich alliteration and pleasing flow of the name "David Garvey."  All those hard sounds counterbalanced by the smooth double "v"s.  Okay, maybe it's not exactly "Don Draper," but at least he doesn't have to spell and/or pronounce his name emphatically a million times everytime someone asks for it.  NO, there is no "u" in my last name, and for some reason, whenever I spell my name, no one seems to be able to distinguish between the letter "v" and the letter "b."  How many Brendan Cabanaughs do you know?

Four. "Look fantastic in a suit.  Look fantastic in casual wear.  Look fantastic in anything.  Sound good.  Smell good.  Kiss good.  Strut around with supreme confidence.  Be uncannily successful at your job.  Blow people away everytime you say anything.  Take six-hour lunches.  Disappear for weeks at a time.  Lie to everyone about everything.  And drink and smoke constantly.  Basically, be Don Draper."

Okay, well maybe David doesn't encapsulate each and every one of Don Draper's characteristics, but he DOES wear Ray Ban sunglasses, as does Mr. Draper himself.  Admittedly, simply wearing a pair of Ray Bans makes both of them much sexier.  But also, David has a very smooth way of interacting with men and women alike, so that while he may not be tearing off girls' clothes left and right, he still emits a sense of debonair self-assuredness that is not mistaken for cockiness in the slightest.  He has a very fluid way of conversing with you, and you should see this guy sip on an Orange Fanta.  I could have sworn he was enjoying a little mid-morning scotch-whiskey in the office.

So where do I figure in?  How do I embody Roger Sterling's traits?  Who is Roger Sterling, you might ask?  Roger is Don Draper's immediate boss and trusted friend at the advertising agency, and he lives every day like he is "on shore leave."  Yes, that's right, he smokes and drinks perpetually- in and out of the office- and prefers to fool around with women much younger than himself and much more beautiful than his wife.  All of this ultimately led to two heart attacks in the same year.  He is kind of a douche bag.

I don't really remember why David and I decided that I was Roger Sterling, but I suppose if he wanted to be Don Draper, he needed a sidekick, and in a way, Sterling and I both fit that mold.  I guess David and I sort of exemplify the dynamic that makes Draper and Sterling so admirable and affable.  We enter a room together will much more self-confidence and higher aspirations when we're together, which sadly is all too rare these days.  I like to imagine us in about fifteen or twenty years, positioned around a dining table at David's house.  My eyes frequently meet with his beautiful and charming wife's as I oh-so-subtly make passes at her, and I'm considering calling my secretary up for a little late-night horsing around once dessert is over,

 This is my secretary.  I'd be stupid not to do it, right...?

while all the while my wife is obliviously telling David about how our daughter has the lead role in her school play.  Yeah, that's the life.  And David and I are not mad about our prospects at all.

1 comment:

  1. I'm in the Fine Arts Building at Mizzou right now and there's a picture of Jon Hamm on the wall. Guess where he went to school.