Don Draper: Owning the Dating Pool

by GK on September 14, 2010 · 3 comments

If life does originate from the water, Don Draper is showing us one can be reborn in it as well. Don does a lot of swimming in “The Summer Man,”  the latest episode of “Mad Men,” and while I’m not ready to call it a comeback just yet — he’d hit a new low last episode — he is getting his swagger back with the ladies. But in a deeper way this time. 

Aside from the juicy fun of watching it all, there are lessons to be learned for all aspiring ladies’ men and guys on the rebound. Allow me to summarize: 

  • Don isn’t quitting the sauce just yet, but he is at least trying to cut back on his drinking and it seems to be helping, along with his exercise. He gives up the Scotch for a can of Budweiser at one point, and that’s not even real beer.
  • The lifestyle improvements appear to be giving Don some clarity, to the point where he likes sleeping alone. This is a guy who would have taken Ol’ Miss Blankenship to bed if he were drunk enough earlier in the season. This newfound security pays off handsomely with the women of his life — he’s getting so much backseat taxi action that he’s about to get banned by Yellow Cab.
  • He’s making women jealous again, and the biggest surprise is that one of them is his ex-wife.  When Betty walks into Don’s date with younger blonde Bethany Van Nuys (one swell porn name, by the way), one can’t help but see Betty 1.0 upstaged by Betty 2.0. Bethany’s pining for more time with Don, who’s keeping her at arm’s length, and after she sizes up her competition, she claims Don by turning their cab ride into a hummer ride. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)
  • Don doesn’t seem too impressed by Bethany, though. When she leaves him with a “To be continued,” his response is, “I bet she was thinking of that line all night.” Now that’s the cocky bastard I know. I suspect that Don sees her as another rich, frivolous hottie like Betty, and he thinks he can do better. Which he can.
  • Meanwhile, the sight of Don’s younger companion gives Betty fits, and she talks of envying the care-free bachelor life she thinks he’s living. I think it’s safe to say Don doesn’t envy her marriage.

Now, let’s get to my favorite part, and that involves his time with Dr. Faye Miller. I’ve been on record as saying she represents a crossroads for Don — either he grows up and connects with a woman like her, who truly has a lot to share with him, or he keeps hating himself while chasing bad relationships and meaningless hookups. This episode was a big step in the right direction.

Sure, he botches it a little when he tries indirectly asking her out to dinner, but when she taunts him about rejecting him before and tests him with a “Why should I go out with you now?” he doesn’t flinch and simply says, “I just thought the timing was right.” ‘Nuff said. 

The Draper charm is on full display on his date with Faye, which includes giving her his jacket, opening up just enough about his problems, and this Don-ism on swimming: “It’s an effort when you get in the water but when you do, you’re weightless and you don’t even sweat. And in the end, you’re wrung out.”

After all his lame makeout attempts this season, his taxi-cab kiss with Faye is Vintage Don, and if anyone wants a lesson on how to kiss a woman without saying a word, you can consider this Exhibit A. (I’d link to it if I could.)

And then, when he’s got her all hot and bothered and asking to go back to his place, Don delivers the coup de grace: he turns her down. What made Don Draper Don Draper wasn’t so much women saying yes as it was Don saying no. I think the difference now is that before, he’d played hard to get by fooling himself into thinking he had everything with Betty and his job. This time, he’s doing it because he likes himself better. Big difference.

“That’s not what I expected,” Faye tells Don when he bids her good night.

Yes, exactly. And that’s why The Draper appears to be back.

{ 3 comments }

1 Erich September 17, 2010 at 11:56 am

If Don owns the pool, then who’s the lifeguard?

2 GK September 17, 2010 at 12:13 pm

I think Peggy is Don’s lifeguard these days.

3 Tre Tre September 20, 2010 at 9:59 am

I wish it was Joan. Joan in lifeguard bathing suit….my – god.

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