It’s the most wonderful day of the year, Mad Men Sunday. For the past two or three years, it’s been the same. I’m ambivalent about the return of Mad Men, until I’m not. I claim I’m over this stupid gut-wrenching show, until I’m clearly not. It’s still one of my favorite things in the universe, and the fact that we only have two years (twenty six episodes! Gah!) left makes me really, really sad.
In honor of my favorite day, I’d planned on a story that put me in mind of Mad Men’s worldview. Then I couldn’t find it in full-text online. I came up with a second story that fit the bill. Which also wasn’t online. So this one’s gonna require a little homework from you guys. You may even have to go to a library. Hey, life can’t always be easy.
John Cheever’s “Torch Song” can be found in The Stories of John Cheever. Though set far before 1960s Manhattan, in the immediate post-WWII period, it’s characters put me in mind of the early years of the show. Also, there’s a character called Joan Harris. How’s that for coincidence? It’s probably the name that immediately drew my eye to the parallels, but Cheever’s Joan Harris does have a lot in common with our Joanie.
J.D. Salinger’s “Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut,” found in Nine Stories, reads like Betty Draper meeting up with one of her old school chums and going on a roaring bender, while Don’s off running around California. It, too, is set much earlier than the sixties, but I think a lot of the early days of Mad Men in particular is about hearkening back to a “golden age” that never really existed, so the message still feels relevant.
Go track down those stories, because they’re both definitely worth the effort. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a date with an Old Fashioned and my dvds, and I’m going to spend the rest of my day wishing I was Peggy Olson.