Thursday, August 7, 2014


Of all the characters on MAD MEN, I identify most with Roger Sterling. While he takes his work seriously, he also knows that it's not so important that it's the end of the world if something gets fucked up. He's got an odd anarchistic streak in him that probably didn't exist in many WWII vets. He's even got an open mind when it comes to a lot of things, like trying LSD with his wife and hanging out with his hippy daughter.

However, there is one thing about his character that I get so much more than the rest of it. In one episode, his mother dies, and he takes it pretty well. His family falls apart around him, but he plays it off with very few ruffled feathers, almost to the point where everyone else thinks he might be kind of crazy since he doesn't show his emotions like a normal person.

Yet later in the same episode, the shoeshine guy he's used for decades dies, and Roger breaks down and cries. No one expects it, but . . . well, I get it.

Don't get me wrong. When my mom died, I broke down. I knew she was on the way out, and when my grandparents got the call, they told me right away, and I lost it. I knew it was coming. I'd prepared for it most of my life. Also, it should be noted that Mom and I had a lot of anger issues with each other. We spent most of her latter years arguing with each other. But the moment I heard about her death, I cried. The second thing I did? I told my brother Bob, and we cried together.

It's the second part I understand more. For example, I've been going to my barber for as long as I can remember. He knows how I like my hair. He's not a hairstylist. He tells off-color jokes. He likes to drink (although I think he quit smoking a while ago). If he ever died, I don't know what I would do. I don't think I could bring myself to go to a salon.

Or how about the comic book store I go to? I've known the proprietor for many, many years, from way back when I was first buying comics in the 'Eighties. What am I going to do when he's gone? I can't get into the chain stores, like Graham Crackers.

With these old school guys, it's about environment. It's about experience. These are things that can't be replicated on a mass scale. Seriously, when I get my hair cut, I might as well be in the barber shop in Dodge City on GUNSMOKE, and whenever I visit the comic book store, it feels like I'm in an old smoke shop of old, searching for pulps (and let's face it, I've actually bought pulps in this place).

Roger Sterling's co-workers looked at him like he was weeping over something superficial, but they're wrong. He was weeping over the end of a way of life, and that's something I really don't want to think about.

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