LadyGhosts of TV Past

Mad Men: “Red in the Face” and White and Lumpy on the Floor

Last time on Mad Men:

Don got schooled in not being a jerk and bad performance art. Joan got a bird and a cage. Peggy got a new job, but no raise and no respect. We got a gorgeous montage at the end.

Don is in his office making a surreptitious call to”¦ Betty’s therapist! Gross. The therapist says Betty is not particularly forthcoming, and “consumed with petty jealousies and overwhelmed with daily activities–basically we’re dealing with the emotions of a child here.” 1.) Girl, I feel you. 2) Fuck you, therapist guy. There’s a “bitch, who asked you?” gif that I see on Tumblr all the time that would be appropriate here if the man weren’t, you know, paid for his opinions and probably right. Don, who is in favor of the “just deal with it,” if at all possible by running several thousand miles in another direction, style of problem solving, heaves a big sigh. The therapist tells him that this kind of anxiety is prevalent in housewives, and Betty has just lost a parent, which is a big deal in normal person– rather than robot specializing in charming interactions– terms. Don says, “So that’s it?” The therapist says that it’s a process, and the idea that Betty has housewife anxiety isn’t particularly groundbreaking. It’s going to take time. Which Don doesn’t really have to deal with Betty’s shit, which is part of the problem here, let’s be honest, because his intercom is buzzing.

Roger is also on the phone, explaining to his wife that he is drinking his milk–with a liberal amount of vodka. Vodka and milk? Is this a thing that people drink on a regular basis? Like Don with the orange juice with eggs in it from the last episode? What are you people doing? I know they had Coke in the ’60s. Do you need some high school seniors to teach you about appropriate mixers? I know a few who would oblige the both of you. Roger is wearing some hot glasses.

Bert Cooper (Bert Cooper!) enters to update Roger on the Nixon campaign. Some representatives are coming by at the end of the week. Roger: “With Nixon?” Bert: “No, thank God, otherwise I’d have to move the piano out of my office.” I don’t know what that means, but I like it. I think I’ll start warning people, “Don’t make me move the piano out of my office!” Maybe it’s a space thing, but I’m going to go ahead and pretend that Richard Nixon was known to have a proclivity toward lounging naked on every piano he encountered. The campaign isn’t a done deal yet, so they’re still selling themselves.

Bert thinks Roger should stop smoking–it’s weak. He says Hitler (I just typed Nixon three times instead of Hitler, so take that for what it’s worth) got Chamberlain to appease him by prohibiting people from smoking during the talks. All Roger got from the story was that Hitler didn’t smoke and he does, so take that for what it’s worth.

Out in the typing pool, Paul announces that the last person to the bar “gets to wheel Kenneth Cosgrove, published author, home in a baby carriage.” Speaking of nonsensical threats. Don’t make me move the piano out of my office, Paul! But I am glad that they appear to be buds again as much as I enjoy their feuding.

You should know that I am typing this in the dark in my living room and I just accidentally ate a piece of wax paper stuck to the bottom of my slice of cake from the deli. I just want you to understand the kind of sacrifices we at Persephone make for our readers.

Anyway, moving on.

Roger sharks up to Joan on the typing floor. That’s sharks as in moves in like a shark behind her, not as in pulls her top down to display her breasts without her consent. Though I’m pretty sure Joan is strapped in there well enough that it would be quite a challenge to accomplish the latter. He says that they’re in luck, his wife’s mother broke her hip and his wife and daughter are out of town for the weekend. Joan is like yeah, dude, that’s super lucky, and continues fixing her hair in her little gold compact mirror.

Too bad for Roger, Joan already has plans. She’s got her suitcase, and her roommate, Carole, arrives to pick her up for the train station. Roger leads Joan away for an “accounting question,” and Carole is like oh, brother. I’m pretty sure that’s what she says to herself because she’s in her late twenties with a curled pony tail and I think that means she doesn’t swear. Roger says that he and Joan should go away some other weekend, maybe to Puerto Rico. Joan says a lady needs some notice, and walks away.

At Peggy’s desk, Don is warning her not to stay late just because she wants the office to pay for her dinner. Peggy insists that it’s real work. Remember, Don? Remember how she has two jobs now for the same salary? Remember how you employ young ladies so you don’t have to pay them? AT LEAST PAY FOR THEIR DINNERS, JESUS.

Roger sharks up on Don and Peggy significantly less sexually, but with similar motives. He’s all heeeeey, whatcha up toooo in their general direction, so Peggy answers, “Working? And going home?” Roger’s like no, not you. He’s angling for a dinner invitation from Don. Pete, who is drawn by his personal brand of dark arts when smarming is happening without him, appears out of nowhere and asks if he missed anything. Roger: “No. Don and I talk all the time when you’re not around. In fact, we’re going to do it right now.” And, having made Don an offer of getting the hell away from Pete that he can’t refuse, he escorts him away, calling, “Goodnight, Paul!” He admits to Don that he loves doing that. I would, too.

Pete tells Peggy that working late for Don is bad for her skin. She explains that she’s writing copy, and we get the requisite, “On your own? For sanitary napkins? Lipstick/sanitary napkins–same difference, right?” Hildy seeks Pete out to pointedly tell him that his wife called, and their party has already been seated at the Four Seasons. Love you, Hildy. Pete offers to take a look at her work, saying that he does it for “the fellas” all the time. Yeah, right. Paul would sooner chew off his dick than have you look over his copy, I’m fairly sure. Granted, if Paul could reach his dick with his mouth there would be no reason for him to be a writer. Peggy, however, beams and thanks him. Peggy is looking super cute in a tight, aqua sweater.

Don and Roger are scheming to pick up some impressionable young ladies in a bar, and Roger is pontificating on the ravages of age. On women, naturally, not him. Don is obviously a little uncomfortable and anxious to get home to Betty’s cooking. Don likes to screw around on his own terms, you see. Roger says Mona hasn’t cooked since Margaret stopped eating. I shouldn’t have laughed, but I did. I remember the will you won’t you will you won’t you will you won’t you join the dinner table battles with my own mother. Oh, youth and eating disorders. Good times.

Roger, in referencing his tough times at home, finally gets the dinner invitation he wanted, and Don says he’ll call Betty to let her know. The sweet young thaaangs from down the bar spare Roger a quick glance before leering at Don as he goes to the phone. Poor Roger.

At the Draper residence, Betty, in curlers and a slip, carrying a fresh from the tub Bobby, and instructing Sally not to do cartwheels in the house, is not particularly thrilled to hear that Roger will be joining them for dinner. Hilariously, rather than identifying himself at her, “Draper residence?” takes a long drag on his cigarette, which alerts her that it’s her husband calling. She doesn’t think she has enough food. Don asks then what the hell is in the freezer if not food? Betty replies that what is in the freezer is frozen food. And the fact that Don does not know the difference is probably an important thing to understand about the ’60s.

Roger, rather than frozen food, is eating Betty’s steak. Betty declines his offer of some of the half-finished meat, saying that she’s a vegetarian”¦ sometimes. I, too, am a vegetarian sometimes. Generally in response to relations offering me meals of questionable meat products, whose response to this information is generally something like, “Well, I have some meatball soup instead!”

Roger says that Mona keeps a calorie book on the refrigerator, and Betty suggests that she probably wants to look good for him. Somewhere, Mona and the pool boy–I don’t know if he exists, but I really hope he does–are having a good chuckle at that one. Roger says that’s a nice thought. Betty launches into a story about how she was fat as a kid–it should be noted that I’m pretty sure by “fat” she means, “I wasn’t a waif, and my mother informed me of it every single day until I stopped eating.” This transitions into a discussion of childhood swimming locations. Betty in the country club pool, Roger non-specific but I’m guessing off of his barge/yacht, and Don in a quarry. Roger says he thought Don was probably raised on a farm, and Don changes the subject to one he knows will be suitable: more liquor.

After more booze is fetched, they have some cake. This part is all talking so: banter, banter, banter, military talk, Betty is charming and interested in Roger’s stories. If you want to hear Roger’s stories, watch the show.

Roger sends Don off to the garage to fetch more liquor. Guys, let me tell you, I come from a long and glorious line of Episcopalians who drown their feelings, and I am no wilting flower when it comes to alcohol consumption, in fact I am a very robust and boozy flower, but I’m pretty sure that one night out with Roger and I would be dead. If the man ate cereal with breakfast instead of quail eggs with sauce made of the blood of peasant children, he would eat it with vodka milk.

Regardless, he has enough of his faculties to help Betty carry dishes to the kitchen, where he invades her personal space a bit in a genially drunken way before making a pass at her. Betty gently tells him not to do that, but he presses on in a less genial way. “You smell so good,” is his line of choice, which is how you know he’s drunk. Betty, Roger’s hands still at her waist, offers to make more coffee. He does not take the hint, but he does have the good sense to remove his hands from Don’s wife when he hears the back door open.

Don returns, as promised, with more booze, but I think the night is over. Don can feel the tension in the kitchen, and sees that Betty looks uncomfortable.

Roger pours himself another glass of vodka as a “bon voyage” drink. Seriously, people, I’d be dead. We’d all be dead. Roger sees himself out, glass of vodka still in hand. He announces that it was a magical night, and Don has to call out the front door directing Roger to his own car, and instructing him to turn on his lights.

Don returns to the kitchen to interrogate Betty on her tension with Roger. She says nothing happened except his drunk boss ruined their night. Don counters that she made a fool of herself giggling at his jokes, and she is like uh”¦ he’s your boss, what the fuck was I supposed to do? He grabs her arm and says he doesn’t appreciate being treated that way. I DO NOT THINK YOUR QUARREL HERE LIES WITH BETTY, DON. But go ahead and fucking whack her with a stick and drag her off to your cave. Christ. Betty defiantly asks if he’d like to smack her around a bit, if that would make him feel better. Don says he feels like he’s living with a little girl. 1) Oh, really? Would you grab a little girl and yell at her for getting hit on? Because fuck you. 2) In the whole shitty thing you have with Betty’s therapist, turning his language back on her is probably the shittiest thing of all. Fuck you. 3) I think, “Are you seriously going to get physical with me right now?” is actually a pretty grown ass lady response to her husband being grabby and threatening. So fuck you. 4) In conclusion, fuck you, Don.

In the office, Paul bemoans Pete’s absence from their night of trolling for pussy. Paul explains that he had a fancy dinner with his in-laws. He’s carrying a big blue box around, and Ken and Paul inquire after its contents. Pete is carrying around a chip and dip to return it. Paul is curious about what the fuck a chip and dip is, and says he’d like to know what wedding gifts people return for future reference. You know, I believe him? Like, I’m fairly sure that Paul actually remembers these things so that he can be a clever wedding guest? Not because he wants to be a good guest, but because he doesn’t want to be wrong. I KNOW YOU, PAUL. I KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU.

It’s a pretty hideous chip and dip. Paul is like wait, you got two of these? And Pete has to explain and then defend the concept of a chip and dip to them. He insists that he has to return it today, and then insists that he likes doing errands for Trudy. Ugh, just that moment in the context of what we learn about his actual motivations for returning the chip and dip? So irritating. Here Pete is making this small but significant Married Dude stand over this little thing, and the others think it’s noble in a pathetic kind of way, but noble nonetheless, and it turns out that Pete is just being Pete”¦ UGH.

Don is smoking in his office when Peggy announces that Roger is there to see him. Roger has come bearing apology gifts in the form of a new bottle of booze. Of course he has.

Roger didn’t make it all the way home. He slept in his car in a motel parking lot. That’s just awesome. But drunk driving is not awesome. I’m just saying.

Roger makes a convoluted apology that involves acknowledging his sense of entitlement without actually admitting any wrongdoing. Don thanks Roger for the bottle and mentions that Betty is going to want the glass that Roger took back.

Pete is in line at the department store, complaining and getting henpecked by the women in line, who recognize the blue box as a newlywed thing. Pete’s manhood is suffering a little.

And even more so when the little bespectacled woman at the counter informs him that they should have registered so that they wouldn’t have gotten two. Pete insists that they did register, and no he doesn’t have the receipt because it was a gift, and gets passed off to an attractive young lady to handle the return.

He explains again that they got two of the chip and dip, and “That’s practically four of something!” He laughs at his own joke. The clerk is not amused. She says she can’t find the registry, and asks for the maiden name. Pete is surprised that it would be listed under the bride’s name. It’s a bridal registry, Pete. That’s what it is.

His dignity is a little more eroded when he runs into another, unknown, Smarmy. This Smarmy is on a more manly mission of getting his racket restrung. Is that a sexual euphemism? It should be. Pete has to explain again what a chip and dip is while Smarmy Number 17 or whatever hits on the clerk. She asks Pete for his receipt again.

She can only give him store credit. Pete wants cash, and tries to sweet talk it out of her, but store credit is the only thing he’s getting from this girl. Pete’s parting shot is to tell her that Smarmy Number 17 has the clap.

The Smarmies Original Recipe enter Pete’s office to discover that he has used his store credit on a shot gun. Harry asks what we’re all wondering: “What the hell is that for?” Pete: “It’s for me!” I dunno, Pete. I’ve seen Trudy handle a paintball gun. You might want to let her try this one. Pete laughs maniacally and points his shot gun at people. “˜CAUSE THAT’S NOT A METAPHOR FOR ANYTHING OR ANYTHING.

Hildy announces his next appointment, and dutifully and stoically takes the shotgun away.

Pete’s next meeting is about the Nixon campaign. They think the Nixon nomination is a lock, but they’re not clear on who the opponent will be. Bert Cooper, sage as ever, knows it’s going to be Kennedy. Roger thinks Kennedy is a “Catholic son of a bitch.” Bert’s contribution is that Kennedy doesn’t even wear a hat. Who would with that hair? Pete points out that neither does Elvis, and everyone shoots him down, but you know and I know that he totally has a point. And it’s nice to see again how consistently they’ve characterized Pete as someone who, whether he knows it at this point or not, is forward-thinking when it comes to markets.

Betty is cutting the strings off a roast beef and greets Don with a, “Hi, honey!” which is more than he deserves. Don is like ooh, roast beef, you know Roger’s not coming? Don, you’re such an asshole.

Elsewhere in domestic bliss, Pete is getting read the riot act by Trudy who never even asked him to return the gift. He just needed some cash. Isn’t that the most?

Negative twenty thousand billion points to everyone but Hildy.

The next day, Don waits for the elevator, which opens on a pouting Pete who trudges out with his shotgun in hand. Don and the elevator operator have a moment for that, and I pause the stream to laugh and laugh and laugh.

Don asks to speak to the elevator man for a moment, and starts shelling out bills. INTRIGUE.

Pete continues pouting in his office, where he is interrupted by Peggy asking him to take a look at her work. Peggy is like, “if you’re in the middle of something”¦” No, Peggy, it’s just a crisis of masculinity. No worries. Pete motions for her to hand him her folder.

She asks, “What’s that?” Pete: “A wedding present.” He asks if she’s ever been hunting, but she hasn’t, she doesn’t think. Pete’s been with his uncle a couple of times and says it’s incredible. He talks about it, and blah blah masculinity, and I didn’t make the connection until now between this and his short story about the deer. Peggy sits and listens while Pete fantasizes about being a man in the woods and killing shit and his woman cooking meat for him and god, whatever, Pete. I can’t deal with you. Peggy says the whole thing would be wonderful, and I can’t with you either, Peggy.

Where’s Hildy? I need a drink with a sane person.

Peggy walks back to her desk all hot and bothered. She decides to go for sexual repression in the form of a cherry Danish. I prefer raspberry myself, but this is the best decision you’re going to make for a while, Peggy, so you may as well enjoy it.

Betty is at the supermarket with a cart full of canned goods. She runs into Helen Bishop and greets her with a smile, but gets bitchface in return. Betty asks what’s wrong, and Helen can barely bring herself to spill that she knows about the secret exchange of illicit hair. Yeah, it was creepy, but it wasn’t that wrong, but at the same time can you even imagine being a mother and trying to run through all the implications of that? She asks Betty, “What is wrong with you?” and Betty hauls back and slaps her in the face. Not hard, but it’s not very Good Neighborly, that’s for sure.

Betty walks out of the market, leaving her cart.

Don and Roger eat a bunch of oysters and drink a bunch of drinks at lunch. Don, without saying as much, challenges Roger to a vodka drinking and oyster and cheesecake eating contest.

They have hilariously subject skipping drunk conversation. Roger likes redheads and milk. Don hates cows. That’s all you need to know, I think.

Presumably also around lunchtime, Betty is knocking back wine at home. The doorbell rings and it’s Francine, who has heard all about the slap heard round Ossinging. She fronts that she’s returning a shirt of Bobby’s, but obviously she wants the dish. They enact a little farce entitled Reasons We Are Drinking in the Middle of the Day that Have Nothing to Do with Existential Ennui, No Sir.

Francine says she’s worried about Betty, but mostly she wants to find out if the rumor is true, and to throw her hat in the ring of people who want to slap Helen Bishop. Betty’s like throw John Kennedy in there too! But Francine thinks that might be taking things a bit far. He is very pretty, after all.

Francine thinks the whole thing will blow over, and the only things that people will remember are that Betty is not to be trifled with in the market, and Helen Bishop is Not Invited.

And then we have the most pathetic conversation in the history of ever, paraphrased:

Betty: I feel like I am letting my mother down by displaying imperfections, but I don’t even care so I don’t really know why I bother.
Francine: Yeah, well, uh”¦ how’s therapy going?
Betty: My doctor makes me feel the way everyone makes me feel: decorative. Also, cheap and shameful.
Francine: I wish men made me feel cheap and shameful.

Back at Sterling Cooper, Don’s new favorite elevator operator says that the system is out of order. If they want to make it to their meeting they’re going to have to go up the stairs.

And so they do. And it’s hard. Harder for Roger than Don, though, which was the point. Don smokes a cigarette on the way up.

Up, up they go, and Roger is taking it pretty hard. They are going up twenty three flights of stairs. Roger keeps himself going by reminding himself how much he loves redheads with big breasts, and tells Don to stop talking. At one point Roger is like GO ON WITHOUT ME, I LOST MY TIE CLIP. Roger, never change.

Don makes it up first, and gets introduced to the political team. He quietly catches his breath while Bert gladhands everyone. A moment later, Roger comes trudging in the door looking significantly the worse for wear. You know the part in Howl’s Moving Castle when the Witch of the Waste has to climb the palace stairs? That is what is happening here.

Roger makes it, unsteadily, over to the group where one of the political dudes starts to smarm with him, but is interrupted by Roger vomiting all over the floor.

His explanation: “Oysters. Twenty three floors.”

Don wins and Roger knows it.

Next time:


By (e)Kelsium

Kelsium lives in Southern California with her partner and collection of almost (almost!) kill-proof plants. She enjoys the beaches, but finds the lack of acceptable bagels distressing. She considers herself an expert in red lipstick and internet rage.

4 replies on “Mad Men: “Red in the Face” and White and Lumpy on the Floor”

I actually liked it when Betty asked Don if he was going to beat her.  One shining moment of defiance and strength.  Then he called her a child.  Grrr.

I hate Pete, but I think it’s residual Connor-hate. Maybe.

But I still don’t understand why it was such a big deal for Betty to give The Little Creep her hair. Aside from the fact it was creepy, I mean. Francine acted like she molested the kid.  There must be some context I’m missing here.

Also, Richard Nixon played piano and wrote a concerto.  I’m guessing this was well known back then.

Holy crap, thank you! You just placed Pete for me. I watched all four seasons just knowing I’d seen him in something else but I could not for the life of me place him. He was CONNOR! Of course! :)

And it’s funny, it always bothered me, but never enough that I actually just IMDB’d him.

This is one of my favorite episodes for seeing the Don/Roger relationship for what it really is. They’re friends, but they also have a kind of competitiveness between them (old/young, sales/creative, grew-up-rich/grew-up-poor, WWII/Korea, etc). It’s even more interesting watching it now through the lens of knowing how Don got his job (thanks to flashbacks in season 4). And Don’s smirk at the end when he walks away from Roger, knowing he made his point, makes me giddy.

As a side note – if you have the DVD’s, watch it with the commentary from Jon Hamm and John Slattery. I think that was more entertaining than the episode itself, which is sayin’ somethin’!

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