The afternoon rain did not deter me. In fact, it broke the oppressive humidity. [And I just took a very un-60s tote bag, plastic garbage bag (for sitting on) and umbrella I never needed.]
A lack of company didn’t dissuade me. [One friend had already committed to watching in Brooklyn with Maddict pals and thought he could persuade them to come to this event – in vain. And the other Maddict, a neighbor, misjudged her time and ultimately had to beg off despite her collection of vintage dresses.]
That left me and my fake 60s outfit.(An Oleg Cassini jacket, Squishee hat and small purse—all thrift shop finds.) There was no way I would not go to Times Square to join thousands of other MadMen fans to watch the first episode of the fourth season of our favorite show.
I attached fake nails and polished them with the new bottle of red I bought especially for this occasion. Once on, I discovered, they made everything else I had to do to get ready incredibly difficult! I had to take my string of pearls and gold charm bracelet with me and ask someone, anyone to help me. And I did. And I arrived in Times Square having lost only 20% of my false nails. Off to a great start.
Times Square was set up with a jumbotron and stage before a VIP section of tables and chairs cordoned off with red velvet ropes and patrolled by a “cigarette” girl (Although I never got close enough to see what she was offering.) Waiters carried cool drinks on silver platters, creating the illusion of an old-time night club.
I found a seat in the second row of folding chairs on the east side and instantly began making friends with the people around me. Two had come from Boston! One group from Alabama, although they just happened to be in New York at the right time. We all snapped photos.
And then—having new friends to hold my seat for me—I set off to find out how to get into the trivia contest! At last the man in charge of recruiting contestants, Brett, came around to talk to me and April who’d come from Boston and also wanted into the test of Mad Men facts. He asked me a few questions- fairly easy ones and I sailed through, accepted. April faultered on the name of Duck Phillips’ dog (Chauncey) and decided, since she was decked out in a vintage outfit, too, to switch to the fashion contest. I was set for Round 1 of trivia, Brett making dots on the backs of our hands with a yellow marker, to brand us as legit.
I got photographed and questioned by New York magazine and Insidefashion. Not my everyday. I’ll link them if they ever appear.
Soon I was lined up with my two fellow Round One contestants – Caroline and Janette – on the side of the stage where we could see the area set up to photograph the stars! And a press area. And Chris March, the Project Runway contestant. “We love you!” I said to him, very unfriendly him. How bad could his day be? Too bad for a bit of stranger-adulation. I didn’t use his name because it was escaping me. My head was too full of Pete’s nickname for his wife Trudy and Joan’s birthdate. We were handed a microphone to share and told to walk across the stage and park our butts on the three stools provided.
Soon we were up there to the side of the jumbotron in front of the growing crowd of Maddicts, and being asked questions one by one. I was asked the name of Don Draper’s firm for the first 3 seasons. (Sterling Cooper. Wow. That was easy!) Next around I was asked his real name. (Dick Whitman.) Yikes! That was like an I Love Lucy contest's asking the name of Lucy’s husband. I also dimly recall “What job title did Joan have?” (Office manager.)
My confidence grew with each question. And all three of us were getting all the answers right until Janette was asked to name Roger Sterling’s daughter. (Ooh, another lay up!) Apparently my expression gave that away and the emcee, Blake, remarked on its evil quality as he nudged Janette to come up with her answer. “Midge?” she tried. (No, it’s Margaret, of course.) And she was eliminated. Either Caroline or I would win—and two more correct answers and Blake gave up trying to stump us. We had both won!
Caroline and I each got a Tshirt (plain black with a small tasteful MadMen logo) and a set of season 3 DVDs. Janette got a Tshirt and a cigarette case! How very 60s.
As I returned to my folding chair in triumph, more requests to be photographed and one young man asked to video me (for some project) telling why I like MadMen so much. (It’s brilliantly written, acted and produced and set in a time that I remember—my childhood – just before so much cultural upheaval. God, I wish I had been so terse. I think I said that but blathered. Typical.)
The fashion show was a big cattle call with a surprising number of men in grey flannel suits, skinny ties and fedoras. We cheered our new friends, April, Berlin and Faith even though Chris March and the other judges carped about many contestants’ shoes. (Glad I left it to the young and lovely. I wouldn’t have stood a chance.) Afterwards, April came over to say that she had been able to see the stars- Elizabeth Moss (Peggy Olson) and January Jones (Betty Draper). And she vanished, never to return to her folding chair we saved for her. Berlin never came back either. Puzzling.
I stood in line for the green screen photo (you, a plastic martini glass, get photographed and they add the Sterling Cooper backdrop and hand you a number with a barcode so you can fetch yourself online.)
Here I am in front of Don’s office. Notice the pearls, charm bracelet, old style bag (which made me appreciate my shoulder bags) and pathetic effort to hide my missing nails.
Speaking of pathetic, while online I heard some of the questions for Round Two. “What account did Peggy bring into Sterling Cooper in Season Two?” (Popsicle! I said aloud. The contestant didn’t know it.) They didn’t know too much apparently.
Minutes later we were treated to an appearance by Peggy and Betty. Elizabeth Moss, her birthday the 24th, was surprised by a cake and thousands serenading her. We had trouble with “Happy birthday dear – “some sang Elizabeth, some Peggy, some just giggled. An off-key hot mess. But she seemed pleased and got a hug from her mom.
And then it was suddenly time for the premiere – one hour before everyone else on the East coast. MadMen! And there was that gorgeous, gorgeous face and a voice asking “Who is Don Draper?”
It was fun. And I knew that my DVR was set to record it so that when I got home I could really watch it without people blocking my view. Or talking like the bizarre guy two rows back who was either certifiable or on something or both.
Still it was a terrific New York experience. I felt bad about having to leave April or Berlin’s umbrella but they never came back. Not my fault.
Got friended on Facebook this morning by April. It seems that she didn’t come back because she got to sit in the front row with Elizabeth and January!! I can’t wait to hear more about how she wangled that! Good for her. If she blogs it, I’ll link it.
I love New York.