Mad Men, Mad World

Our perfectly coiffed hostess opens the gate to her apartment. As she swings the metal barricade closed and locks it with a small key, her dress spins about into a bell shape any 1960s housewife would envy.

We climb the carpeted stairs in slingbacks and loafers to a 2nd floor apartment. Sounds of the McGuire Sisters and Ella lazily crooning in the background embellish our tangible imaginations. Because tonight, you see, it’s 1960 – or maybe 1963?

The porch lights are on, smiling over our patch of New York, and the conversation is fitting. Oh how I needed another bobby pin! Doesn’t your hair look fabulous? What a lovely shade of lipstick you’re wearing. Such darling pearls. Don’t the men look dapper?

Trudy shouted from the living room that “The Twist” was about to play. Well, we simply had to join! Isn’t the culmination of every memorable cocktail party on the dance floor, pivoting to and fro? Gin and tonics were tossed aside like secretaries in an ad agency and we danced, danced, danced…

In my mind’s eye, there are scenes of Donald Draper walking smugly down Madison Avenue to the Sterling-Cooper building. But I also see E.B. White typing away columns for magazines, and Bob Dylan just beginning to make his mark. Can’t you envision Edie Sedgwick stumbling through the Village with Andy and her posse in tow? Or maybe you imagine Robert Gottlieb and Korda pouring over Catch-22. How glamorous we can make a turbulent decade appear in hindsight, through the eyes of fake Ray Bands from the corner store.

Even still, I love this time period and its juxtaposition of contrasting American ideals. Pretending if only for an evening, that we took part in 1960’s New York City is all too enjoyable for the current inhabitants of this ever-changing town. Movements, riots, literature, music – many of these cultural contributions began within blocks of our homes.

But when the night was through, I slipped off my heels and changed into Toms. I let out a few pins from my hair to curtail the squeezing of my scalp. Then I walked into the night air with an encouraging thought that many of my 1960s idols may have been without: I, hopefully, will be remembered for more than my red dress, my silky pearls… my fake, plastic pearls.

So let us play. Let us flippantly play in the past for a moment or more.
And then we move on.
Happy Mad Men my friends. 

"I can't believe it now, that the city opened before us like some land of dreams, but it did." -- Mary Cantwell, in "Manhattan, When I Was Young" circa 1950-1960.