We’re forging ahead this week with my seminal treatise on television. Groundbreaking stuff, people. In fact, I’m a little conflicted over my excitement that you’re reading this and my disappointment that you’re not sitting in front of a TV, taking advantage of all the treasures the small screen offers. Alas, I’ll continue to order your queue (NOT a euphemism, pervs), and we’ll add some more stories to our must-see grid.
Ostensible premise: Seven strangers live in a house and have their lives taped…nah, just kidding—it’s about advertising agents on Madison Avenue in the 1960s.
Hook: See Dick run. See Dick lie. See Dick become Don. (See below.)
Lead character: Don Draper, the erstwhile Dick Whitman.
Lead’s likability (1-10 scale): Ugh. This one’s tough. Don as an agent? Amazing. Proficient. Inspiring. Don as a person? Probably herpetic. He’s a cheating scoundrel, see? I’ll give him a 4.
(Editor’s note: For the previous installment of this novel see here. This installment continues from the conclusion Chapter One of Part One: Before The Lines)
I awoke the next morning in my own bed with less of a hangover than usual, since after Cara left the rest of us were too demoralized to continue partying and went instead to our separate apartments: Kennedy to the Park Avenue-at-75th pad that she paid a nominal fee to rent a room in, since technically it was the pied-a-terre of friends of her parents who visited, at most, twice a year (their other apartments were in Paris, London and Rome, along with their Richmond plantation); Abby to her one-bedroom in the East Village, and I to my alcove studio in Murray Hill. As my eyes adjusted to the light streaming through my window, the events of the night before flooded my brain and I checked my phone. No voice mail, no texts. The phone immediately buzzed in my hand with a text from Kennedy that read: ?!
I typed back, “Nothing.”
A few minutes later, Abby texted, “Sent her a text an hour ago and haven’t heard anything. Brunch?”
We agreed on Penelope’s, a spot in my neighborhood known for comfort food and long lines on the weekends. I showered and dressed slowly, then took my time walking over to 30th and Lexington. Living between two of my best friends had its advantages, the prime one being that my neighborhood was middle ground and often where we ended up brunching. Staying above-ground, away from the subway, with a hangover, though not as necessary today, was always preferable, as was avoiding the packed bus or a jerky cab ride. I arrived at Penelope’s first and put my name in, then headed back outside to wait with the masses. We were lucky today, having gotten an earlier start than usual, and the wait was only twenty minutes. Within five, Abby had walked over from her bus stop on Third Avenue, shortly followed by Kennedy pouring out of a cab.
Some of you are not watching enough television.
I can see it in your faces: that yearning for something that isn’t in front of you, that rosy complexion generated from outdoor activity, that confused expression when I ask if you can believe how awful Brody’s daughter is. Some of you are out there, living your lives and doing God knows what, without considering the impact your hours spent away from the television are having on your life.
I’m here to change that.
Within minutes of starting our first conversation, my husband and I were comparing notes on entertainment: favorite movies, music, TV shows. Granted, we were at a dive bar while a college football team to which neither of us felt an affinity was losing a game on a nearby screen—so the conversation was ripe for escapism. During the year of friendship that preceded our courtship, we often met at my apartment to watch—and yell in disbelief—at Lost. Then we became more than friends, and I felt it incumbent upon me (as girlfriends do) to broaden his horizons. So, on a trip to the Catskills in the dead of winter, I introduced him to Friday Night Lights via DVD. He was immediately hooked, and instead of tubing down a snowy hill, we spent the weekend marveling over the Taylors’ marriage and Tim Riggins’ coolness.
(Editor’s note: For the previous installment of this novel see here. This installment continues from Chapter One of Part One: Before The Lines)
“What’s up, TORP?” she yelled, and I felt some saliva hit my face, positioned as it was between her and the interloper.
He narrowed his eyes in momentary confusion. “It’s actually Reynolds,” he said, jerking his thumb backward. “You know Thorpe?” It took me a second to realize that this was the actual name of one of his friends, who was now taking a shot with his group.
Cara didn’t catch on as quickly, naturally, and just began to laugh. “It’s a joke, dude,” she said, weaving toward me as she extended her hand to the newly identified and pretentiously named Reynolds. “I’m Cara, and these are my friends…” she trailed off, and I waited to hear our names, but she seemed incapable of finishing her sentence and just smiled. Which was no problem for Reynolds, who had yet to look at the rest of us.
“My friends and I were wondering if we could buy you ladies a round of drinks,” he said, still not taking his eyes off Cara. My inclination to refuse what would probably turn out to be a roofie-laced beer was rendered moot as Cara climbed over me and stood unsteadily, pointing at the table from where he had just come. “I want one of those shots,” she drawled, and with that she stumbled into the fold of lookalike men.
(Editor’s note: If you are a Downton Abbey watcher, pull up a chair and stay awhile. If you are not, then, in the words of Bill Tundle, “Please leave.” Also, this is not any kind of official Downton Abbey writing, but rather an homage to one of our favorite characters.)
I have long suspected that I am related to Mary Crawley. Or, at the very least (and since she’s not a real person), we would be best friends if we met. Consider the facts: she’s a people-hater understood only by her husband; she went through a period of bad dating choices (Kemal Paluk, anyone? Try every dude I ever went out with, except they didn’t have the decency to kick the bucket); she can’t abide silly women like Edith; she’s loyal to her family even when they act like douches. Now that Mary is a mother (no, I will not address what happened to her partner in parenting; instead I will pretend AS IF THAT NEVER HAPPENED), we have even more in common. As an Anglophile who appreciates the civility of both the British and the past, I can’t help but wonder what Lady Crawley would think of our modern culture. Which is why I decided to figure it out myself, below.
First of all, that’s not even your name. You are the United States. The Americas refer to the upper and lower continents east of the great Island, that vast land of brutish manners and boorish men. And my grandmother, Martha Levinson. So do correct all your people who use that misnomer, please.