No actual horses were harmed in the making of this post
I can’t find actual flesh and blood humans in my environment who follow Mad Men.
I admit the fishbowl I swim in is comparatively smaller than the aquariums most of the show’s demographic apparently inhabit. Plus the fishbowl is tucked away in a musty but quaint corner of America’s Bread Box. (could you dust off a more dated metaphor?-ed.) But we get waterproof cable and broadband in here and the show is cool, smart, stylishly retro, steeped in literary reference, layered with societal reflection and cultural commentary, sly and funny. Why do so few of my colleagues and friends tune in? I dunno. Perhaps I should ask myself why I’ve chosen such backward, unsophisticated, humorless, Idiocrats as friends in the first place. I apologize my dear dullards —mea culpa; It’s not you. It’s less of me.
I accompanied two of my non-Mad Men watching “friends” to the local racetrack last Saturday. It was a gorgeous, great-day-to-be-alive kind of November day. Seasonably warm with a light bite in the breeze that bore the strangely intoxicating aroma of horse manure from the stables. I love the smell of manure in the morning. It smells like victory,– but usually heralds a financial Apocalypse. I filled my lungs with the pungent scent and I felt my debit card twitch in anticipation of the quick hook up with the nearest ATM.
After a few drags off a Lucky Strike (L.S.M.F.T. – It’s so toasted!), I placed a wager or seven and my pals and I grabbed seats in the grandstand.
Five minutes later, the race over, I needed to give that ATM a go-round like it never had before, because my bets were now losers. I think I felt my debit card roll over and grin. As the horses came back in front of the grandstand to be unjockeyed and unsaddled, I remarked that the #5 horse that just ate my money, was looking all dappled and handsome and happy. (This was to be expected since he did not expend much blood, sweat or tears in the just concluded “race”.) I grimly chuckled and proclaimed he was the prettiest case of dog food I had ever seen. Alice looked quite puzzled at me; Martin looked around to see if others were listening. I explained to the two of them how if they had just watched the same excellent television program I did (!), they would know how the post WWII glut of obsolete work horses made horsemeat cheap thereby making it a major ingredient in canned pet food.
Alice was incredulous. I enthusiastically went on about Annabelle Mathis and the public backlash against her company when it was exposed as a slaughterer and canner of ponies and unicorns. Then I described the comical irrationality of the SC focus group when the company’s brand name was revealed. And then I followed with Don’s advice that the dogs loved the product, the product was good, it was just the name on the label, Caldecott Farms, which was dead and unsalvageable.
The fictional brand name was my undoing; this detailed flourish brought me down.
A dullard (see definition above) in the next aisle vocally told me I was full of . . . manure, Calumet Farm never was in the dog food business. He continued on that Calumet was a fine thoroughbred stud farm and had produced many famous champion racehorses and that I should stop defaming an honorable company in the racing industry whose very “product” I had just recently grudgingly partially funded. (Well, he went on something like that, I cleaned up the details of his admonishment a bit.)
Being the curious and attentive degenerate gambler I am, I knew all of this already. I told him I was talking about a make-believe dog food company baroness portrayed in an excellent television program that I was now completely convinced no living , breathing, unpixelated human living within five hundred miles of me had ever seen before.
I was poised to retort further about how he, the dull one, had neglected to mention that Calumet Farm, his upstanding pillar of the racing community, had a real life scandal in the early ‘90s as they were investigated for insurance fraud when the honestly fine champ and Great Stud Alydar, the horse that came painfully close to beating Affirmed in each of the three Triple Crown races, was found suspiciously dead in his stall.
And I was set to let loose with “Mr. Dull One, let us toss aside what actually is factual and just debate which is more defaming: unwanted equines are used for dog food or the Estate Scion hires horsey hit men to collect insurance money and stave off bankruptcy.” And while he would have been stammering in stunned response, I was going to hit him with the Charley Partanna paraphrase, “ If Calumet Farm is so fuckin’ honorable then why is Alydar so fuckin’ dead?” Winner,winner! Chicken dinner!
But before I could unleash that righteous diatribe, Martin reminded me the second half of the double was approaching and my debit card was turning blue so I just let it all drop and we wandered off to place some wagers, never to return to those obviously unlucky, cursed seats again.
I’ll conclude with a question; It’s been said you can’t choose your family, you can only choose your friends. Do your family or friends groove to the Mad Men beat? Can we force either group of them to enjoy the program? If we changed the label to Survivor: Madison Avenue would the dullards watch?