I'm absolutely enchanted with season 5 of "Mad Men." This season is so strong, episode after episode; at times it is on a par with "The Godfather" in mastery of story-telling, direction and performance. For example, last night, as the drama switched back and forth from Don Draper pitching Jaguar to Joan Harris selling a piece of her soul. What made Joan's act more dispiriting? That she did it at all or that it was with a fat old man? And Peggy walking out the door with a smile. I held my breath for a moment before the elevator doors opened, wondering if we were about to revisit the empty shaft Don faced a few episodes back. Thankfully, not. Peggy stepped into her future, but I'm sure we'll see her again, and again.
For me it's been extra fun seeing the attention paid to the sexy little Jaguar XK-E. When I married my husband I also married the Jaguar XK-E. Howard Joynt loved to buy them and get them fixed up into pristine shape (though with a Jaguar, that was a challenge). In college he drove an XK-150. His parents and sister drove Jaguars. When we met Howard drove a white 12-cylinder XK-E convertible that he got painted black and reupholstered with red leather. We drove that car on so many road trip holidays, from Maine to Key West. I was not a driver yet, still very much a passenger.
Usually these trips were great fun, except on Route 95 in heavy rain with 18 wheelers tearing by, kicking up what amounted to rogue waves for our little car. And since it was a Jag, it broke down as often as not. There was the time, again on Route 95, when we had to wait for a flat-bed truck to pick us up in the middle of nowhere in southern Virginia. The car was so low to the ground it could not be conventionally towed. Another time we were stranded on the side of a rural road, also down south, and had to accept a ride to a gas station from a stranger, who drove at 75 miles an hour not with his hands on the wheel but through the wheel so he could drum on the dashboard. I crossed my fingers and prayed.
The most dramatic moment was when the engine caught fire as we drove Route 50 through Marshall, Va. We came to a stop near a 7-11, both running in to grab bottles of water. Fortunately, the fire department was one block away.
It was a true two-seater. Behind the front seats was just enough room for our dog. The trunk could fit a small bag or picnic basket.
Later, we had a British racing green XK-E hard back, also 12 cylinders, and then another E-Type convertible, this one cherry red, 12-cylinders. Howard's master mechanic (really, his collaborator), Carlos Neiderhauser, a charming connoisseur, was in Shepherdstown, WV, where we would trek for repairs and fine-tuning. I never drove the convertibles because they were stick shift. I did drive the green car. Yes, hot, though I wasn't a driver yet and so not fully able to appreciate.
These were our cars for a decade. When Spencer was born, the XK-E's went away, replaced by a station wagon. Imagine. What a transition. Howard didn't last long with that. We kept the staton wagon but he got a Jaguar sedan, a 12-cylinder Vanden Plas, which was like driving velvet, if velvet could be driven. The exterior was British racing green, the interior buttery beige leather, the exquisite trim was burled walnut. After Howard died, rather than putting his mahogany urn in a hearse, I drove up to Gawler's and had the men there put it in the trunk of the Jaguar. With Spencer and my brother, Robert, in the car, we drove Howard on a last tour of Georgetown, ending up at Oak Hill Cemetery. Since the car was leased, I turned it back in, with sadness of course.
I'm thrilled that SCDP got the Jaguar contract. Will Don learn to feel moved by the car, or will he remain happy with Megan? It seems with him it's not possible to have both. My friend Shane Harris texted last night to say the actual slogan for the 1967 Jaguar was, "Domesticated, Not Declawed." Is that the same for Don Draper? I can't believe there are only two episodes remaining to Season 5. I'm already in mourning.