Mad Men 1980s - Mustard comedy magazine
Mad Men 1980s

Writer's Block:
First Chapters From Unwritten Novels

#2: Mad Men 1980s

Thanks for stopping by, gentlemen. Please, take a bean bag. Now, what can I get you boys to drink? Vodka? Martini? No? Okay just a round of Soda Streams then. Allison, be a peach and get busy with the fizzy, would you? Top mine off with a jigger of rye too, there's a gal.

Now, I don't want to take up too much of your time today, so I'm going to keep this brief. You boys came to me with a product: a brightly coloured board game with flippable cartoon faces.

'Guess Who?' What is it? One might describe it as "a little box of magic"… thank you, but please, hold your applause – that quite brilliant and wholly sufficient tagline is merely the opening salvo in my war on your hearts and minds. It's cute, sure. But did you sign this company's senior-level closer for 'cute'? The answer is a very senior "no".

Yes, enjoy my little joke before I skilfully divert what seems like casual patter into an affecting and thought-provoking commentary on our lives and times.

Boys, I'm going to be brutally honest and say I don't think you've the faintest idea of what you're sitting on here. I'm also going to call you dummies, and get a free pass for doing so simply because my remarkable charisma has already allowed me to slip beneath your bed sheets like some modern-day incubus.

See, on the surface of things, Guess Who is just a child's game, yet scratch deeper and you'll find it's more. Much more. It's educational, it's strategic, it requires deductive reasoning… but more than that, it is revolutionary. Yes, you heard correctly, gentlemen, but allow me to say that word one more time in my smoky, testosterone-flavoured voice…


So what's the hot topic here? Is it gender? Could be, after all, given its male-to-female imbalance, doesn't your product subtly confirm that women are less valuable than men? High five.

Or maybe there's a richer seam to mine. For instance, race. Perhaps I want to light the powder keg of black versus white and sell your game as an exercise in eliminating people based on their minority traits. After all, that's fun for kids and adults.

But no. I plan to dig deeper still and show you something your feeble minds had scarcely imagined possible.

See, I took your game home to my expensive penthouse suite and gave it to one of my visiting grandchildren – I forget which – to see what she made of it. As we played, I imagined I was leading a casting session full of beautiful models, and each time I flipped down a face I saw myself ruthlessly weeding out another slab of human meat that failed to meet my exacting sexual specifications. It was hilarious.

But as befits my vexing personality, I was exhibiting a satisfied exterior yet boiling with inner turmoil. Maybe it was a characteristic spell of Don Draper moodiness or perhaps a melancholy brought on by my eighth tumbler of scotch. But I looked down and for a solitary moment saw my own face on that board.

There I was, among Alfred and Bill and Susan, and I asked myself not "What colour is my hair?" or "What colour are my eyes?" but "What is my place in this world? What shape is my soul? WHO AM I?".

Now, at this point I would beg "Pray silence" for my big finale, except I see I've already captivated you with my engaging and emotionally resonant prelude, so I will simply offer you this, your new tagline:

Guess Who? — What Makes a Man?

And if that doesn't do it, my name's not Dick Whitman. I mean Don Draper. Damn it.

~ D.B.

Illo: A.W.


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