You already know the big surprise ending, so let’s go through chronologically.
First, Roberta and I were in the Lincoln Tunnel for approximately 34 hours. You think I exaggerate, and yet.
So, instead of arriving at 7 to graciously set up the room for our announced 8pm start time, we pulled up in front at about 7:50, unloaded, and then I went to park the car. Very Keystone Kops, but fortunately, I found a spot only a block away, so I boogied back and we set up quickly.
At some point on the way over, Roberta thunked herself on the head and said she’d forgotten her digital recorder”no way to do a formal interview. “That means someone’ll show up” she said. Prophetic.
Every table had a basket of (Hershey’s) Kisses (we’re SO cute, right?), plus Utz potato chips. Our waitress (yay, Jessica!) is a fan of the show (the only one at the Phoenix Park who is) and she got jazzed when she saw the Utz. Plus, we had wonderful AMC-provided swag: Do Not Disturb doorknob hangers (“Mad Men…behind every door”) and business card holders (each with Don Draper’s business card, to which we’d added our own).
Our private room looked to seat around fifty, and guests trickled in slowly. Around 9:45 I realized there were no chairs for the last few guests who’d just arrived.
There were so many wonderful Basketcases in attendance. Regulars I know well, like Jackie, Joy, Dimples, and portiaslegacy.Charming lurkers I was happy to meet, like Jude, Marcy, and Ellen. Newcomers who’d just heard of us the week before (welcome!). Nathaniel of The Film Experience came, as did Rolando of AM New York, who writes the Urbanite and its “Mad Men in the City” column. There was a moment when I just sat quietly and listened to the deafening chatter. Everyone so noisy, so animated, so excited to chat, and I just soaked it in, like a wave of pleasure. And I thought, this is the best night I’ve had in ages.
A few minutes past nine o’clock we hooked up
our Roberta’s sound system and started playing Mad Men trivia. We had some really hard questions.* Betty’s maiden name. Name three clients who’ve left SC. One point for every Whedon connection: Like that. 40 questions, I think. So fun. We had five prizes: First prize went to Glen, who won a small martini set. Second prize was a DVD of Psycho (which, accidentally, was the remake; Roberta thought she bought the original), won by portiaslegacy. Third prize was a copy of Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, won by Dimples. We had a tie for 4th between Joy and Marcy, which was great, because we had two Sterling Cooper stickers from Cafe Press. Finally, 5th prize, to Jackie, was a Pez container. Not a period one, but hey, it’s the thought that counts.
The nice thing about having a fan as our waitress is she was totally on top of making sure we were tuned to AMC and that the sound was working right (which wasn’t easy) and so on. Because at one minute to ten, a hush fell over the room, and IT BEGAN.
It’s different with fifty people, y’know? Laughs, gasps, boos, more laughs; there’s something so fulfilling about the shared viewing experience. And of course, the episode was as good as anything any of us have ever seen. Ever. The twists! The revelations! The sex in a bar! Yowza!
And then at 11:01, in walks Matt Weiner, and he’s all like, didja like it?
DID! WE! LIKE! IT!
I had a moment of unreality. For a half-second I had this disorienting sense that I was watching a film of Matt Weiner joining our party.
And then that ended, snap, and we were all hugging like old friends, and Matt sat between Roberta and I, and answered millions of questions from us, from Basketcases, and he asked US questions (yes! we loved it!), and signed autographs (doorknob hangers come in handy) and I gave him a copy of my book and it was totally wonderful. Totally.
Matt Weiner feels like an old friend, like a buddy, like a colleague, possibly like the cool cousin who made good.And in a sense, our comfort worked against us. I was relaxed and my brain wasn’t in interview mode. Like, if I’d have been more star struck, I’d have taken better notes. In a way, I am star struck; he is a brilliant creative force”Matt, I’m totally in awe! But I’m not intimidated, which is nice. You’re always afraid you’re going to drool or something.
Executive decision: I’m taking all the interview stuff, all the stuff Matt told us, and moving it to a different post. Because this one is already quite long.
There will be much more. I am so tired. The right side of my head feels like it’s got Borg implants. But listen, it was like the best night ever BEFORE Matt showed up. You all made it great. You all make Basket of Kisses the joy that it is. So thank you Matt, thank you Theano, thank you AMC, and thank you Basketcases.
*Of which I just realized, we got one wrong. Playtex was the client in the “Maidenform” episode. So those of you who said Playtex during the trivia quiz, mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.