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Exercise Wednesday: Are you alone?

August 29, 2012

At the end of season five of Mad Men, Don Draper enters a bar and orders an Old-Fashioned (a drink made from whiskey, bitters, and dissolved sugar). Draper, a man of the fifties and early sixties is definitely out of step with the culture that created the Summer of Love in 1967. And yet, as Nancy Sinatra sings You Only Live Twice in the background, a woman approaches him and asks for a light for her cigarette.

Then she says, “I’m sorry, but my friend down there…” She nods to another woman at the end of the bar. “She was wondering.”

She pauses slightly. “Are you alone?”

For that character of Don Draper, that’s a loaded question. Are you alone? It holds the immediacy of a woman in a bar, and maybe her friend, too. And then there’s the deeper meaning. Draper has never been able to let people in, really. He lives in the world of advertising, where you make out on manipulating people, on re-arranging your feelings to your best interests. It’s the way Draper has lived his life, and as much as he’s wanted to, he’s never been able to break out of it.

Are you alone?

The answer, whether he winds up with one or both of the women, is yes. He’s alone. He’s always been…alone.

So today’s exercise is to answer that question for one of your characters, but not just at the physical level. At the emotional and spiritual level, too.

Time: 25 minutes

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