parenthood, television

Life Imitates “Mad Men”

We’ve been packing a lot of date nights into our schedule lately. All our friends with kids recommended this. Last night we walked to Dewey’s for pizza. Along the way we passed a man who walked with a waddle.

“Do I walk like that?” Erin asked. “Do I walk like an obese duck?”

“No, you do not walk like an obese duck.”

“Do I walk like a fat cow? I feel like a fat cow.”

“You are not a fat cow.”

At Dewey’s we split a Wild Mushroom and Green Lantern (minus the goat cheese) pizza. We talked about our day. Erin is reading The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs. She told Ben about his attempt to overcome lust by putting tape over any suggestive material in their apartment: catalogs, magazines, photos of busty bridesmaids. But the tape only made him think of what was underneath the tape, which made him think lusty thoughts.

“His editors at Esquire made him interview Rosario Dawson,” Erin said, “and you know those ‘clean TV’ boxes at Family Christian stores? The ones that block out questionable material? Well, he bought one of those and watched all of Rosario Dawson’s movies — or what was left of them — before he interviewed her. And then she turned out to be one of the crudest people he’s ever met. Talking about who her friend’s mom was sleeping with and who she was sleeping with. But at least she wore baggy clothes to the interview. I wonder what she thought of his beard.”

Later in the meal she said, “I feel like a beached whale.”

“Honey, you’re not a beached whale. You’re pregnant. There’s a big difference.”

“When you look at me do you think, ‘Why did I marry a beached whale?'”

“No, I do not think that. I look at you and think, ‘There’s a good-looking pregnant woman. Like James Brolin when he looked across the room at Amy Poehler in that SNL sketch.'”

“You want me to stand up and rub my belly like Amy did?”

“Maybe later.”

We stopped by Trio on the way home but there was no carrot cake on the dessert menu. We decided we could settle for Oreos and ice cream at home.

Date night wound down pretty quickly after that. Erin read more of her book. Ben finished part one of The Passage. At 9:30 we retired upstairs.

Erin tossed and turned. “Why can’t I sleep?” she asked. Then later, “I may never sleep again in my life.” Scooter Thomas (whom we’ve taken to calling “Bew” lately, as in “Mew” with a ‘B’) jumped up and down twice. The second time he settled in “Bew Cove,” the little inlet of bed space between us. He jumped down when Ben began bothering his bottom too much.

At eleven o’clock, after getting up twice to pee, Erin sighed and sat up. “Do you want to watch a ‘Mad Men’?”

“Let’s go watch a ‘Mad Men.'”

We — and by “we” we mean “Ben” — finished season 2 of “Mad Men” just last weekend. He had Erik Brueggemann’s copy for about eight months. Erin finished the season seven months and twenty-eight days ago.

We put in the first disc of season three. The first episode is titled “Out of Town.” In the opening scene, Don is heating milk in the kitchen and smoking a cigarette. He looks up and sees a birth scene, sometime in the past. A midwife tells the woman in bed that she has just delivered a stillborn. She shows her a pan with her dead child inside.

Erin turns to Ben, who has suddenly gone very tense. “This is not funny,” she says.

The would-be father enters the room. “So you killed another one?” The midwife shoots back, “Maybe you oughta stay off her once in a while.” He responds, “Get out of here you witch.”

The scene cuts to a different man sitting on a bed in a hotel room. A woman is standing with her hand cocked on her hip. “You don’t have a sheath,” she says. “Well go get one,” he tells her, adding, “but that’ll be another quarter, and this is all I have.” He extends his hand. “Go wash yourself,” she says.

The man returns and the woman is now sitting on the bed.

“You get me in trouble, I’m gonna cut your dick off and boil it in hog fat.”

The camera moves back to Don’s face. We hear heated breathing. Scooter Thomas jumps up on the coffee table and, after situating his girth appropriately, begins licking himself.

The scene cuts to the woman in labor. She looks like death. She mumbles, “I’m gunnab cud his dick off an’ boil it in hog fab.” “What’s that sweetheart?” another woman — the same midwife from the stillborn — asks her. “I’m cold,” she replies.

Erin is either laughing or crying at this point, maybe both. Ben can’t tell.

“Are you okay?” he asks. It’s closer to laughter, but not one hundred percent.

The midwife shows up at the first mother’s door late at night. She is carrying a crate. “I told you God would give you a child,” she says to the mother. “His name is Dick, after a wish his mother should have lived to see.”

The camera cuts back to Don, who has just seen the truth (or is it?) of his birth. He ladles the skin off the milk and goes upstairs.

“C’mon, drink this,” Don says to Betty, handing her the milk.

“There’s no point in both of us not sleeping,” Betty says as she sits up. Ben and Erin exchanged raised eyebrows.

Betty drinks the milk. “Am I ever going to sleep again?”

“Ahhhhhhhhh!” Erin says. There are tears rolling down her face but she’s still laughing.

“I just want everything to be perfect,” Betty tells Don. “I want her to come into our home at its best.”

“Close your eyes,” Don whispers. He moves his hand to Betty’s pregnant belly. “You’re on a warm, sandy beach.”

“Because I’m a whale,” Betty says.

“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!” Erin says again, throwing up her arms. Ben is confident this is laughter (but again, there are the tears). He joins in.

“We can stop this at any point,” Ben says.

“You’re on a warm, sandy beach,” Don whispers to Betty. “You can smell the faint scent of coconut oil. And as you slide your hands through that cold patch of sand underneath the deck chair –”

“You’re good at this,” she tells him.

The scene ends. We pause the DVD.

“Are you okay?” Ben asks.

“Yes,” Erin says. She wipes her eyes. “That was surreal. Of all the episodes.”

We finish the episode and crawl back in bed shortly before midnight. “Well, two-and-a-half hours later, let’s try it again,” Erin says. We lie there in the dark. After a few minutes, we feel a weight at the foot of the bed followed by a small chirp. But Bew Cove remains unoccupied.

It’s cool outside. The A/C is off and we opened the windows. There are the faint sounds of a neighborhood settling to sleep and a light breeze in the trees. A car motors past, slows at the stop sign, then accelerates away.

“Am I on a warm, sandy beach?” Erin asks.

“Yes,” Ben tells her. “You are.”


5 thoughts on “Life Imitates “Mad Men”

  1. If that means Erin = the hot looks of Betty Draper + the business brains of Peggy Olson + the cluelessness of secretary Lois, then yes, Ben = Don Draper.

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