Dear Don Draper,
I worry that you may not be getting these letters. I have yet to receive a response, and after seeing last night’s episode, I’m convinced that either the mail isn’t arriving or you’re willfully ignoring my advice. Especially the stuff about smoking. I mean, cancer is one thing, but watching you light up with a hundred-plus fever and a hacking cough made my own tonsils burn and balloon.
The bad news from the future is there’s still no cure for the common flu. Or maybe there is but Big Pharma won’t let us have it. However, we do know this: despite what your ads may say, cigarette smoke doesn’t soothe a sore throat. Shocking, I know. Try some Halls and a neti pot.
Anyway, it’s possible these letters aren’t arriving. Time travel is a complex equation—a mess of quarks and antimatter—and the time traveler’s post office in Brooklyn is a shabby operation at best, another underfunded municipality filled with dust and outdated technology, a bastion of incompetence. Our carrier’s name is Gilbert, and he’s a stickler for rules. I’ve told him time and again to leave these letters in your mailbox, but Gil always smirks and recites postal code 309B, which states that all interdecade correspondence must be signed by the receiver, C.O.D.
Point is: last week I tried a different post office, this one located on West End Avenue in Manhattan, on a block known as Headshrinker’s Row for its high concentration of first-floor therapists’ offices. Walk the row on a weekday at noon, and you’ll spy in the brownstone windows neurotics and whiners of all stripes, sprawled on leather couches, whispering of childhood traumas to the brow-raised shrinks who hover over their bodies like bees before withering flowers, waiting to pilfer and then leave them to die.
So there I was on a lovely day, letter in hand, wind in hair, sunlight glimmering off the Hudson in the distance, and I thought of you back in the summer of ’66, with all your pent-up issues and nooselike ties, and closets full of pomade, and I suddenly understood what you so sorely need: psychoanalysis.
Okay, I also may have watched this ridiculous Keira Knightley (see attached photo) movie about how Freud and Jung started off as tight bros, but then Jung boned Keira Knightley, and Freud got jealous and started being a dick, and then Keira Knightley got over her daddy issues and became a shrink herself and then it was the Holocaust. The moral, as far as I could tell, is that a good spanking cures the crazies.
Still, you don’t need Freud to interpret that dream you had on Sunday night, the one in which an old flame took advantage of your weakened state to have her way with you sexually, and then you strangled her to death. Clearly, this is about your maternal abandonment issues. Duh. But really, talk to a therapist. I don’t want you getting all Landry from season two Friday Night Lights and ruining the show with a ratings-grabbing murder plotline.
I actually had a similar dream last night about Joan Holloway, only instead of strangling her I was rubbing butter all over her naked body then licking it off, inch by slippery inch.
If you talk to Joan, could you pass her this message for me: Joanie, my love, your husband is an idiot. You’re better off without him.
Harold Brodkey once wrote, “To see her in sunlight was to see Marxism die … because seeing someone in actuality who had such a high immediate worth meant you had to decide whether such personal distinction had a right to exist or if she belonged to the state and ought to be shadowed in, reduced in scale, made lesser, laughed at.”
I’m pretty sure he was talking about Joan Holloway. And yet, Greg chose to eat a baloney sandwich instead of a steak, and he chose to go back to Vietnam to fight communism instead of realizing that Joan and her torpedo chest had already won that war, and you were the spoils. The defense rests.
I also have a message for Peggy: Better luck next time with the whole not letting your culturally ingrained subtle racism out of the bag thing. You came so close!
And finally, some parenting advice for you, Don: get Sally an age-appropriate nightgown, stat, and nip that Seconal habit in the bud before it even gets going. You don’t even want to know how Tatum O’Neal turned out.
I’ll leave it at that. You’ve got enough on your plate as is, Draper. I hope to see you next week with your strength back. Until then you should rest, recuperate, and cut back on the cigs. You’re a flower, Donny D, and I want to see you bloom.
Mad Love Homey,
Adam Wilson is the author of Flatscreen.