just_displaced: (cats cradle)
Michael Ginsberg ([personal profile] just_displaced) wrote in [community profile] margatesands2014-01-25 11:00 pm
Entry tags:

More AU shit...

 With a variety of (okay, two) options!


After three weeks of being back, he finally has his own office. There's a name plaque on his door. It says Michael Ginsberg, of course, but he's been tempted to tape a piece of paper over the part that says "Michael." Some irritating new kid around the office had stared at the name on the door one afternoon and loudly declared that he hadn't known that Ginsberg's first name was Michael. Irritating as that kid had been, Ginsberg can't say he's distressed by the fact that people only know him by his last name. It reminds him of the army.

Being reminded of the army, as it turns out, isn't always the worst thing he can possibly imagine.

He stays in his office at night sometimes. Okay, most nights. He's realized that the floor isn't so uncomfortable, if he puts some pillows down on it, remembers to bring a blanket, lies in the right position. It's more comfortable than sleeping in the jungle, anyway, and hadn't he done that for eighteen months? The office floor seems positively cushy in comparison.

He stays here because he can't go home, because he can't let his father see him the way he is now, not for long periods of time. Morris Ginsberg is too perceptive by half, would recognize that there's something missing in his son, would see what the war had taken out of him, and there would have to be a conversation that he has no interest in having. So he lies and says he has too much work or he's going to see some friends or he's got a date and he won't be home till late or he won't be home at all. And then he camps out on his office floor.

Tonight, it's late. Midnight, maybe. He's not keeping track. Everyone's gone, the place is quiet, most of the lights are out. He's not tired yet, can't possibly fathom going to bed, so after pounding the keys of his typewriter in fruitless frustration at being unable to come up with a slogan for a new weight-loss drink, he pushes open the door to his office and walks almost soundlessly down the dark hallway, unsure of where he's headed, simply liking the feeling of walking alone in the dark, in a place where he feels relatively safe. 


There are days he can't face going to work. They don't happen as often as he might have expected them to, but they do happen. On days like that, he just can't bring himself to walk into that lobby, to press that button for the elevator, to go upstairs, to go into his office, to face the same old people with the same old routine. On days like that, he feels the pressure of the whispers in his head much stronger, the insidious, harsh things they say becoming so much clearer in his distress. On days like that, the faces of everyone he sees seem distorted and somehow dangerous, as though they're all staring into him, as though they're all hearing his thoughts, too.

That's when he finds himself somewhere else, places he can't always remember deciding to go. It's strange, this sensation he sometimes has that he's losing time. He knows he must have gotten himself to this coffee-shop of his own accord, on his own two feet, but he'll be damned if he can remember why he'd chosen to come here or what had possessed him to order a white chocolate coffee (whatever the hell that is.)

All he knows is that he's sitting there, staring at his stupid drink that he's not even going to enjoy, idly toying with the two things he wears around his neck, which somehow seem to have gotten tangled together in a way that means he can't quite figure out how to untangle them without taking them off, and he doesn't particularly want to remove them. It's just his dogtags and the Star of David necklace his dad had given him before he'd left for the army (it was supposed to keep him safe, apparently, and he didn't know whether he believed that, not exactly, but hey, he wasn't dead yet, so maybe he might as well keep on wearing it.)

Eventually, the people who run this coffee-shop are probably going to get sick and tired of him sitting there and taking up space and not even drinking his coffee, but for now, he's content just to sit. And stare. And pretend that he never has to go back to work, never, never again.  
knockfourtimes: (of my execution)

[personal profile] knockfourtimes 2014-01-31 03:16 am (UTC)(link)
Don had lingered in the office with the intention of reviewing the current strategies for Sunkist. He's supposed to meet with Ted in the morning, 'just to kick around a few ideas.' Don isn't certain whether Ted has actually come up against a wall and wants a hand, or whether he's decided to be charitable ('decided to show pity' may be a better way to phrase it; Don's too tired to think about that).

Either way, it's something to do, something to keep him occupied and maybe, maybe something that will unlock the heaviness that's settled over everything. Sunkist is a big account, high stakes, asks for fresh ideas. There is a challenge in it that would once have excited Don, pushing him to his most vibrant, volatile ideas. And he'd thought - thinks - that this might draw him out of himself. (Maybe Ted had thought the same. Or Peggy, working somewhere behind the scenes.) This might be what he needs to grasp hold of something and give the world... what? Shape, maybe momentum again.

He hasn't been especially successful thus far. After an hour of jotting down useless notes (oranges on parade? foraging for oranges? jesus, what's that even supposed to mean?), he'd let himself close his eyes. It was supposed to be for a few minutes, but sleep had come on heavy, and now it's... who knows what time. Late. Late enough for the sky to be black behind the city's nauseating lights. Do they have to be so bright?

Raising himself slowly, Don turns his eyes away from the light, letting himself adjust to this business of being awake. The thing is, he doesn't feel rested at all. Hardly feels like he slept; his head is no clearer or muddier than it had been. And he isn't exactly bursting with ideas, or even the desire to find them.

That session is going to happen, though. He can't cancel; he won't give Ted the satisfaction, and still, still thinks he might find something. Anything at all, any... scraps that might lead him to an idea and any amount of the old rush, the old fulfillment. It would help. It would.

If he's going to keep working, it'll be better to stay here. Maybe just sleep on his couch. It certainly wouldn't be the first time, though he hasn't pulled an overnight here in months. There isn't anything welcoming about this place (that isn't entirely true; there's a dull, half-rotten comfort in it, in knowing that he can be here and that this is in a way still his agency), but home is hardly better. Another building, another set of rooms just as empty as these and even stranger.

What he needs is a drink. That and a walk around the office, which might achieve what sleep could not (it won't, of course it won't) and clear the mud from his head. He spots a half-finished glass of whiskey on the table beside him and finishes it off before making his way to his feet and moving toward the door.

Sure. He'll walk around the office, maybe see whether he can scavenge any leftovers from the break room, then return and either accomplish some work or drink himself into darkness. Either option seems tenable enough.
knockfourtimes: (to feel less alone)

[personal profile] knockfourtimes 2014-01-31 05:24 am (UTC)(link)
He hadn't heard anything until the last moment. Trying to think of nothing but caught by images of oranges and meetings that mean nothing and ineptitude, an absence that might never be amended, he'd missed the approach of the unidentified figure, and at the sound of the yelp, it's all he can do to keep from cursing aloud (keep it quiet, keep it unreadable; get your bearings before letting anything out at all). The noise is jarring. Where's it coming from? What the fuck is going on and who the hell else is in the office right now, is there someone in the office there must be, but why didn't he hear, why is anyone, what, what...

Calm down. Calm down. Someone else is in the office. That's all. It isn't that much of a surprise. And it sure as hell isn't the end of the world. He thinks vaguely that it's maybe Peggy, probably Peggy; she still hasn't lost the fire that draws long nights and handwaves sleep in favor of pursuing an idea (still hasn't lost the fire of ideas, maybe never will; there's something indomitable about Peggy). Or it's a member of the cleaning staff.

When he finally takes a look at the person responsible for the yelp, he starts visibly. What Don sees is wide eyes and disarray, shock wound with (is it?) weariness and something hunted, and for christ's sake, he's half-undressed. Of course it would be Ginsberg. Of course. "Jesus."

Don has scarcely spoken with or even seen the man since... Since the encounter in his office. Since Ginsberg had spoken too far and the questions the implications had begun to crush too close. (Don has thought about those words heard echoes from the conversation - what was spoken or what he'd thought, he doesn't know and cannot sort the remembering - and none of it is any clearer, only keeps gnawing gnawing into him evading any grasp or silence. Now he feels them nip with renewed vigor, carrying a cold wave of dizziness, something akin to wistfulness, something akin to fear.)

It hadn't been necessary to speak with Ginsberg. And from what Don had heard - not that he'd been seeking information, not that he'd been concerned, of course not - Ginsberg hadn't been particularly eager to speak with anyone. It seemed that Ginsberg had been uncommonly silent. The partners had noted it (Cutler appearing moderately pleased), and Peggy had made a remark in passing, something about wondering whether she should say something, what she should say. Don hadn't known. Don hadn't wanted to touched the subject. Ginsberg would be fine.

Would he be? Whatever 'fine' meant. The silence has been disconcerting in its way, and coupled with what Ginsberg had said in the office, with everything that had hung unsaid...

Don breaks himself out of the thought, straightening and keeping his gaze steady. There's nothing to do now but move into this. Don't think about it. Don't think about what could happen (standing on a precipice); it will be a brief encounter, nothing more.

"What are you doing here?"
knockfourtimes: (don't give me that)

[personal profile] knockfourtimes 2014-01-31 08:10 am (UTC)(link)
"Working." The answer is immediate, without thought, and the questions doesn't warrant any more of an answer than that.

There should be further words, something that will allow Don to move through this conversation, but he hasn't yet landed on anything suitable. First he needs to know where he stands. Where he wants to go. Why he's talking with a half-dressed Michael Ginsberg in the middle of the night while his desk waits covered in ungainly attempts at Sunkist ideas (they aren't even ideas, they really aren't), why something about this encounter seems dire.

It had been so easy to forget Ginsberg while he was gone, but since that conversation (is that even the right word for it? conversations have paths and points, conversations have grounding and don't leave you stranded in whirlwinded half-thoughts) he's lingered uncomfortably on the edge of Don's awareness. Seeing Ginsberg the way he is now...

Look. Maybe this isn't so unusual. It's Ginsberg, after all; maybe this is his usual attire outside of the office. Hell, it might be his usual attire in his own office. An undershirt, or maybe an undershirt with one of those unrelentingly loud jackets. That he's here and presumably working shouldn't be a surprise, either. (So soon after returning? Well. Why not?

But it isn't only the state of undress and it's isn't only his presence. It was the sound of the yelp, and it's something in his expression and in the way he holds himself, the edge to his posture. It's the-- Are those dog tags? Ginsberg's wearing dog tags beneath the undershirt, must be what those are, and something about that seems unsettling, as well. It's all of that, and it's the recollection of his words and the spiral that had started, of the way Ginsberg had seemed to be slipping and the way Don had felt himself caught into it, felt Ginsberg's downward pull in addition to his own.

During the weeks since that... encounter, Don had been able to tell himself that his perception had been faulty, that he had been tired and read too much into the situation, had perhaps placed too much of himself onto what he had seen. If Ginsberg had seemed strained, it must have been because it was his first day back and because the war was still so fresh (how long does it take for that to fade? and wasn't that one of the questions, those questions without answers?). Nothing more. Nothing to be... Nothing that might give cause for concern.

Now, though? Now it seems those thoughts were too, too well-founded.

Don't think about it. Don't worry about it. Maybe he's still making too much out of the situation. Maybe it's the lingering daze of sleep coupled with the strain of his own mind; it's been a rough month. A rough year. And this isn't any of his business.

"Please tell me you aren't sleeping here."

He doesn't care one way or another. Really, he doesn't. Ginsberg can sleep wherever he wants. They're the only suitable words Don can find right now, though, and it's better than allowing this silence to hang heavy.
knockfourtimes: (the stranger)

[personal profile] knockfourtimes 2014-02-01 11:48 pm (UTC)(link)
This exchange might be the definition of inanity were it not for the fact that each word from Ginsberg seems charged beyond its surface. It’s his way of speaking; everything seems charged, sparking under the pressure that must drive his creative production. With Ginsberg, there is never any sense of relaxation. Never any sense that a word doesn’t matter or a phrase is just thrown into the mix. Everything carries intention. It must be exhausting for Ginsberg; certainly, Don has found it trialsome to listen to. And the sense is even stronger now, touched as it is by that discussion. By what he’d heard and what he’d only been able to guess at.

It doesn’t help that Ginsberg defies simple answers. What is it in Ginsberg that pushes everything beyond what's required? Something about his intensity, something about taking hold and not being able to let go. Don had seen it in that conversation and he's seen it with Ginsberg's work and he should know better than to continue speaking now, should find the quickest way out and be gone before it can plunge too deep again. But the right words remain difficult to find.

It’s just because he’s half-asleep. Just because his mind isn’t clear. (And when was the last time his mind had been anything like clear? When was the last time vision hadn’t been stifled pressed in upon? What he’d give to see without this weight. What he’d give to breathe.)

What has been said. Even Ginsberg’s 'sometimes' tells more than Don had asked and more than he wants to know. The word, particularly the way Ginsberg says it, suggests that this isn't an uncommon occasion. And it opens up other questions. How often does Ginsberg sleep here? How often does he leave? For an instant - and it's impossible, it's at least unlikely - Don wonders whether Ginsberg has taken to living at the office. Whether he'd lost his home while he was away (he must have had a home, though Don would never have asked about it or cared to know), whether his new office had seemed like an opportunity to miss out on paying rent.

Those aren't questions to ask. Those aren’t questions he should even care about. What Ginsberg does is his business. If he wants to sleep in this office, that’s his prerogative. Someone might as well make use of the building, and it isn’t as if any clients are liable to barrel down the doors in the middle of the night, only to run into a shirtless and very lost-looking Ginsberg. (He could be a ghost haunting the halls. He could.)

So never mind that. Just answer the question. Try to find a way of directing or ending (ending would be best) this exchange. "I fell asleep." There's a difference, after all.

And he has to make a decision. Running into Ginsberg (almost literally, and what does that say about either of them? too wrapped up in god knows what to notice someone else’s very clear presence, and Don can’t blame Ginsberg because he’d been just as surprised) has put a wrinkle in his plans. He had planned on having the quiet and run of the entire office to himself. Alone here, he feels moderately freer from restraints. The presence of another person jars that, recalls the rush of the workplace and everything that remains to be done. Space becomes clouded again. And with Ginsberg, there’s the added danger… not danger, potential distraction of being drawn into discussion again.

He should stay, though. He should, because it's his best chance of even attempting work at anything. Because he doesn’t want to see Ted’s face – a mixture of patient understanding, pity, pleasure, and mild irritation; Don knows it, Don can picture it – when he has nothing to offer. Because he doesn’t want to feel the sinking sense of one more prospect (deplorable that this should even be counted as a prospect) slipping from his reach.

Jesus. Why is making a decision right now so difficult?

All right. Fine. He doesn’t yet have a way out, but he can do something to alter the circumstance. They’re in the dark. This is ridiculous. Don reaches over to the nearest desk and flips on a lamp, a casually assertive gesture that – simple as it is – leaves him standing on more solid ground, giving a flicker of his old authoritative ease.

“You should probably put some shoes on. I wouldn’t trust this floor.”
knockfourtimes: (will forever remain indefinable)

[personal profile] knockfourtimes 2014-02-02 04:52 am (UTC)(link)
What the hell?

He keeps it from his face, but Ginsberg's words - 'it's quieter this way' - throw him for a moment. That isn't right. Something about those words— Why did he say that? Why. Because he's Ginsberg. Because he always says too much. And because something here is out of joint. Lingering at the office isn't extraordinary, even wandering around in the dark isn't anything too unusual - Don had been doing the same, after all - but this urgency for quiet, and those...

All right, those eyes. There's something in them Don can't begin to touch but knows, somehow knows, something volatile and unspoken (and should remain unspoken, god help them if that, that whatever it may be called finds words), and they're no quieter than they had been the day he'd brought Ginsberg into his office. The weeks haven't been enough to bring calm, and who knows how many more might be necessary? The quiet. Why is Ginsberg concerned with being quiet around the office?

Don has his guesses. And it might be that Ginsberg still hasn't returned, not really. What was it he'd said, asked? When do you stop dreaming about it. How do you forget. Every sign suggests that Ginsberg hasn't forgotten and perhaps can't.

He should get out of here. He should say no. Should say he was just about to leave.


But he does need to work. Or he should, he has nothing else to do, and this thing about Sunkist... Could mean something. Could become something, if he works at it. Something very small and almost worthless, but that might be all he can hope for just now. The hint of a good idea.

That's probably bullshit. And if it's truth, it's a truth he doesn't want to think too far into. (What it might say about where he is. How he's come here. He doesn't want to know. He doesn't want to think about what it means. Where to go from here.) There's something else going on here, as well. Something else he doesn't want to think about or admit to. It... Call it curiosity. That's easiest. It might not be true (isn't true, it's more or other than that, something that pulls at him something that has a chance of holding him and maybe maybe of getting under his own skin), but it's something he can stand to think.

He can stay for a little while longer. That won't hurt anything, right? And he could use a shot of caffeine right now. Something to shake him into wakefulness. (Something to carry him until he can start in on the whiskey in his office.)

So he keeps his gaze steady, eyebrows just barely raised. "Coffee. If you're making some."
knockfourtimes: (of my execution)

[personal profile] knockfourtimes 2014-02-02 06:36 am (UTC)(link)
He notices Ginsberg's choice with the lights, though he doesn't say anything. It's another piece to consider, something to be added with that desire to walk quietly... and maybe added to the silence that Ginsberg has reportedly shown since returning. It's all bound together with something Ginsberg saw, with everything Ginsberg saw or with something else that's eating at him—

Again. Bullshit. Don doesn't know anything, and he has no interest in psychologizing anything or anyone. If Ginsberg has a problem, he'll say it or he won't. It's his decision. And when has a little quiet ever hurt anyone? (Oh, that. That is a joke.)

In the break room - here again, of course - he leans against the doorframe, arms crossed as he watches Ginsberg (the motions too cautious, somehow quiet and jerky, trained but not entirely under control). It occurs to Don that Ginsberg is doing a much better job with the coffee than he'd managed last time. He doesn't say anything about it.

Then he finds himself fixed in those eyes again (don't look too far into them, don't think about the fact that the half-undressed half-distressed Ginsberg looks positively average compared with those eyes), and Ginsberg's question cuts with heavy sharpness. What did he ask. What.

The Sunkist account. Well.

What does Ginsberg know? Word travels around the office, and though Don hasn't paid much mind to what the whispers have said about him, he has his suppositions. Because he doesn't call or attend as many meetings. Because he doesn't head as many presentations. Because Peggy and Ted handle most of the creative management, and Don spends the majority of his days in his office, occasionally stepping out to lunch with some client who expects to see his face. The esteemed Don Draper, the name and face most companies expect to see at some point (though it's losing its pull, he's started to notice or maybe only started to suspect; there are others to look to now, and even clients eventually pick up on such developments).

Point being that Ginsberg probably has some sense of Don's diminished role. And while the question sounds innocent enough, while Don doesn't detect any barbs in the speech, it's possible that Ginsberg is aware of his question's weight. It's possible that he knows Don has done next to nothing with Sunkist thus far, that his involvement with most accounts has been tangential. It's possible that this is some sort of power play. Or... Probably not a power play; that doesn't seem to fit for Ginsberg. Something more basic, just a way of waving Don's recent inactivity in his face.

Careful not to flinch or allow his eyes to show some sign of unease, he offers a response calculated to dismiss the question. "I'm working on it."

A memory flashes to mind, another night he'd spent at the office on a fervid search for usable lines, for some way of reasserting his (presence) talent. It had been a different time and he'd been in a different place; it hadn't really mattered. But he'd been determined to land on a pitch for Sno Ball. He hasn't thought on that, any of that in a while, but of course he remembers, of course he knows what had started it and what had followed, remembers the file of electric ideas and his own struggle to find something worthy of use.

That was when Don had really begun to wrest Ginsberg out of his thoughts. After that. And the irony of the current situation - that he should encounter Ginsberg while chasing ideas he needs (maybe, maybe) and cannot catch, that Ginsberg is no doubt at work on something effective, something just as electric as those ridiculous snowball ideas - isn't lost on him. (But it's good, isn't it, to see that someone here still brings the unpredictable energy to the agency? Peggy's good - Peggy's always been good - and Ted has talent, but Ginsberg has the sort of incalculable flare that's rarer still. At least, he'd had it before leaving, and from what Don has heard, it still remains.)

In any case, he'll see what Ginsberg does with the response, whether he begins to poke in earnest. Don doesn't expect it, but the suspicion, the possibility remains.

"What's keeping you here?"
Edited 2014-02-02 06:36 (UTC)
knockfourtimes: (was no more real)

[personal profile] knockfourtimes 2014-02-02 08:31 am (UTC)(link)
He sees something shift in Ginsberg's expression and doesn't know what to make of it (comprehension? confusion? guilt? perhaps a combination of these and more, perhaps something entirely unsuspected), nor of the fact that Ginsberg doesn't pursue the Sunkist inquiry. It's easier this way, of course, and undoubtedly for the best. Don could worry himself over what it means - that Ginsberg is waiting to continue his inquiry later, that Ginsberg hadn't intended anything in the first place (and was it, had there been something honest to the question in the first place?) - but he isn't eager to dwell on the subject and simply pushes past it. That much he can ignore. That much requires nothing more.

He keeps his attention on the present, instead, taking note of the silences. And it does seem somewhat unusual that Ginsberg should lapse into silence while tending to the coffee (the hands; something unsteady in his hands, but he pours without incident), that the flow of his words is clipped. But what of it? His speech patterns had never been smooth. And it's the middle of the night. Nothing about this situation is exceptionally ordinary.

Including the hint of what had been. 'Over there.' It's as suitable a way of phrasing it as any, and Don can't exactly fault Ginsberg for stumbling in search of the phrase. War has never been an easy thing to put into words. The event, the knowledge asks for language beyond the common vocabulary, words that haven't yet been discovered and can only be found coiled in the heart of experience. The available words never fit right. Probably never will. And maybe Ginsberg should be able to talk about the basic idea at this point - three weeks, a month, whatever it's been, exactly - but it's probably a common enough stammer, and he'd gotten the idea across. Besides, it isn't as if clients need to hear about the war or have any desire to be reminded of its occurrence.

Don reaches for one of the cups, nodding his thanks, then leans back again. If Ginsberg sticks to talking about work - his own work, and just touching on it, talking over it - this might remain a reasonable conversation. (Is that what Don wants? Something on the surface, something easy in that sickening way? Jesus. Never mind. Let it be.)

"Mallo-wiches." It's an inane name, and obviously not a memorable one. Don hadn't been directly connected to the account, but he'd heard plenty of Ted's stories during the partners' meetings. There had been discussions about changing the name, but the client was adamant - weren't they always? - that people knew them by their name. People loved their name. Clearly not enough to keep sales up, but the clients wouldn't hear anything about that.

"They don't need to change anyone's life. You don't need to worry about that. All you need to worry about is making people think they'll enjoy the cookie. That a Mallo-wich will satisfy some nagging desire or bring light to their afternoon, or even keep their kids quiet for a few minutes." It isn't anything more than Ginsberg knows. Basic principles, simple ideas. But you have to start from somewhere. And it's a comfortable enough line of talk to fall into.

"You'll find something."

Ginsberg's remark about changing no one's life recalls some of his past words a little too clearly (what gives people happiness, what really adds to their lives). Don doesn't mention it, but he does keep a steady eye on Ginsberg. It's best to be watchful. Best to be prepared should words arrive unexpected, though with Ginsberg, there's no certain way to be ready.

"What do they want?"
Edited 2014-02-02 08:34 (UTC)
knockfourtimes: (...)

[personal profile] knockfourtimes 2014-02-10 11:04 pm (UTC)(link)
For just a moment, Ginsberg had looked to be more present (suddenly more alive, more... is it right to say 'himself'? or is that just sentimental?),and Don notes the passing of this lightness with a vague ache. Something there that shouldn't be so easily breezed away. Something there - in the clarity of engagement and in its dissolution - that touches all too familiar. (There is a fragility to human endeavors. There is a quality to genius that wavers always on the edge of loss— No. No, that's overstating it, painting it in dramatic extremity. Taking it too far, though there's truth in the thought.)

It isn't anything Don wants to think about, and he turns his eyes to his coffee, as if considering whether to drink it, maybe as if considering Ginsberg's words. In truth - and he knows it - he needed a moment without sight of Ginsberg's eyes. This all might be easier if Ginsberg didn't watch, didn't exist with such intensity. It makes certain thoughts impossible to overlook. Brings matters into a clarity that stings (though it's welcome, as well, hard to find as it is these days).

If he avoids those thoughts... It's fine. It's fine. He's just standing in the break room with Ginsberg. In the middle of the night. Talking about the perennial pain in the ass that is Mallo-wich. Focus on that. Focus on the clients that have been carping about one magic solution after another.

"Nothing in the world is going to make these cookies sexy." Don finds the idea of a sexy cookie revolting, period. And Mallo-wiches are the Oldsmobiles of the cookie industry; they aren't much to look at and they won't wow anyone, but they serve their purpose. Which is, as far as don can tell, to be a sub-par cookie with a lackluster name. "Trying will look cheap, or it'll look desperate. It'd be like... Putting somebody's grandmother in a mini-skirt and stilettos. We can't give these cookies an appeal they don't have."

Clients rarely seem to grasp that point: that the best advertising campaigns can only take off from what the product offers. It can be the slightest hint, it can be, should be an angle that's almost impossible to find, but it needs to be rooted in what's being sold. For all of its flash and unpredictability, all worthwhile advertising copy grows organically from the product.

"The problem is that the client is juvenile. Their genius idea is juvenile. Sex isn't synonymous with maturity. Teenagers think it is because they don't know anything about being adults, but grown men and women? Grown men and women don't need to be reminded that life is so dismal they need to find sex appeal in a cookie."

Who brought that account in, anyway? Don can't remember (which means it wasn't Campbell; god knows he doesn't shut up about his accounts). It doesn't matter.

He shakes his head. "Jesus, I'm just glad they're your problem." Mostly. Mostly. And that's edging toward dangerous territory, because part of Don's own problem is that he doesn't have much of anything. Maybe Ginsberg knows that; maybe he doesn't. Don still hasn't placed Ginsberg's level of awareness. He doesn't really want to try.
knockfourtimes: (his scorn of the gods)

[personal profile] knockfourtimes 2014-02-11 05:30 am (UTC)(link)
There it is. There's a question.

Fall asleep on the couch in his office. Or drink until you pass out on said couch. When that fails, disappear for a week. Maybe a month. Try and fail to find your answers in someone else. And eventually, let it slide, let it all slide to its straggling end.

In the meanwhile, take what steps you can, move ahead on the path, however sharp it slopes downward. Drag yourself along one step after another and be certain to pretend that nothing's happened, act as if it's all together.

There is, after all, an art to carrying on. There is an art to fading.

But never mind that. Never mind the drama. (He falls into it so easily sometimes; he's going to drink after this.) Never mind his own response to an absence of ideas - though he knows, he knows the way words and images lie heavy in the head, the way they may refuse to rise at all - and never mind the trailing of of Ginsberg's renewed energy. He hasn't been back very long. He still remembers too much - he must - and it's late; with all of that in play, it's only reasonable that Ginsberg's thoughts are shorting out on him.

Ginsberg needs to relax. That's all. (It must be. It probably isn't. Don really doesn't believe it is, but the possibility stands.) It's easy to succumb to pressure around this office, and Don half-wonders whether anyone has encouraged Ginsberg to keep from overdoing it or has been... all right, for lack of a better phrase, keeping an eye on him. (Jesus Christ, he's a grown man.) Peggy or Ted must have been. Isn't that part of their job?

It's probably part of Don's job, too. It certainly used to be. He hadn't bothered with it - as long as the work was done, he'd made a habit of not really noticing them - but Peggy and Ted both seem more aware of others than he'd ever been. Granted that Peggy gets caught up in her work, maybe even forgets that others are around in a way Don recognizes. And Ted's been spending a lot of time in California...

Again, that doesn't matter. What matters right now is answering Ginsberg's question. Providing a firm response.

"I go home."

There used to be truth to that, and it used to work. When there was a home to return to. When recharging was a possibility.

"This place can drive anyone up a wall or into a dead end. Why don't you should get out of here, Ginsberg? Get some sleep, at least go breathe the air outside.

"You're onto something. It sounds like you have a solid idea of what you want; that's what matters. You aren't lost at sea. So give yourself a break. You'll have plenty of time to get it written down tomorrow. Or the day after." That isn't always true - sometimes the words slip away - but more often than not it's possible to find the way back. And Ginsberg does sound as if he has a handle on the direction he wants to take. There might even be something in it. Probably is something in it, Don admits.

"You don't need to cram a year's worth of work into a month."

This conversation has been actually, moderately tolerable - even revitalizing, in a way (the way he'd been able to just speak) - but it probably would be best all around if Ginsberg were to leave. This encounter would end reasonably well. Don would have the office to himself, left to his attempts at catching onto something, anything that might be usable for Sunkist or at least worthy of discussion.

And just now? Don feels as if he might be able to find something. Hadn't he spoken almost naturally (god, it'd felt good, it really had) about Mallo-wich? The words had come easily, bringing with them the prospect of further ideas, of synapses snapping thoughts together and into use. If he begins work now, he might be able to corral more of these thoughts. Might come up with something for the morning.

(He doesn't entirely believe this. The more likely case is that he'll return to his office and hit the wall again, facing the sour taste of his task and the mountain of ideas he simply cannot find. He knows the routine. He knows the weight. But he feels, right now he feels as if he might pull through that...)

It's beside the point, and he takes a sip of his coffee, eyes on Ginsberg.
knockfourtimes: (will forever remain indefinable)

[personal profile] knockfourtimes 2014-02-24 02:41 am (UTC)(link)
It occurs to Don that in the future, he should avoid the break room.

The conversation could have ended. Ginsberg could have accepted the advice, given some parting words of gratitude, gathered his clothing, and headed out for the night. Even as he thinks it, Don dismisses the image, half amused and half nauseated by its absurdity. As if that were anywhere in the realm of possibility. As if Ginsberg could ever stop, ever hold back from whatever the hell it is that crowds his mind... And there's a warning again, a suggestion that Don should step out while he can, because this probably isn't going to become any smoother. Because there's no telling where Ginsberg might go. Because already, Don can feel the ground he'd gained eroding.

Nothing is certain, though. He'd entered this conversation... mostly willingly, and he can still handle it. In any case, he isn't willing to let go of it just yet. Because he feels, somewhere feels that he has words that might suit here. Because there is something of a challenge in meeting Ginsberg's questions and navigating the many pitfalls of engagement (it requires sideways thinking, forces him into drawing connections with which he's been too often out of touch). Because...

Something holds him here. Maybe it doesn't need any more analysis than that. All that it requires is words and voice. He can do that. He can.

"You aren't there anymore. You're here. And you'll have to get used to that." It's a simple statement, spoken with an accustomed measure of brusqueness. He doesn't intend it unkindly; only as a firm injunction. Lingering in the past can't do any good. (Not that blanking out the past had done much good for Don in the long run, but it had aided in its way, and perhaps there was a path between the two extremes.) What Don knows is that being present, being here is a necessity, and not only in terms of work.

Of course, being out of that place doesn't necessarily mean being freed of the thoughts. Of course he knows how the mind can play tricks, hanging on too tightly to something from the past, and causing one place to bleed into another. The key is to beat those impressions back. The key is to keep your mind clear of what has been, leaving play only for what is.

Don had discarded thoughts of Korea quickly enough, but Don had - has - also been skilled at compartmentalizing. Putting his mind in a sort of order, and never mind how that order stands now, whether it truly stands at all. Ginsberg doesn't seem to have mastered that skill or even begun to grasp its use. A month, and he still speaks, still looks fresh from overseas. (What had they seen in Vietnam? What is that war, and is it - God help them - is it somehow worse than Korea had been, somehow even more of a mess? It might only be Ginsberg. It might only be his sensitivity.)

And his words had come so quickly, so naturally. Almost as if Ginsberg has been waiting to talk about that, about the war. For a moment, Don wonders whether Ginsberg has anyone to speak with about it. He must have... Or not. So much about life remains unspoken. And it's better that way, Don still insists on believing that it's better that way (mostly, though there are times he could bend to other views times he could question his certainty on the point).

Maybe, though. Maybe there are some people who, once in a while, require outlet. (Some people. Many people. Can he deny this?) If so, Ginsberg seems a likely count for their number.

Never mind. That isn't the point here. It isn't (it can't be) anywhere for Don to enter. "You need to adjust your vision. Remember where you are.

"You need to stop thinking as if you're somewhere else."
knockfourtimes: (to feel less alone)

[personal profile] knockfourtimes 2014-02-24 07:14 am (UTC)(link)
Of course it doesn't make sense that the rules in war are clearer than the rules at home (or what was supposed to be home; Don had made and held to a home for himself after the war, but that stability has long since dissolved). Or, no, it makes perfect sense, because wars ostensibly operate within set boundaries, their territory and personal relationships, their horrors defined by men who make certain that everything can be recorded and reported. War is man-made and man-directed, and so exists within a sphere that is understandable, if you can overlook the inhumanity of it. If you can overlook the chaos that waits at its edges.

Life outside of war, life outside of anyone's definition stands astonishingly unbound. Societal institutions do their best to train people to see in terms of community and social morays, in terms of rules of etiquette and subtle (or not-so-subtle) class gradations. And people believe these structures. People do. They guide their lives by popular rules, they cling to some sense of being protected by these rules. It's why, or a big part of the reason why they'll buy a new car years before the old model's ready for the trash heap, why they'll rush out to buy the silkiest pair of pantyhose or the newest handbag. It's a sense of pre-defined place. A sense of belonging.

But there are times at which a person may find himself (or, all right, herself) pushed out of this sense. Times of being forced to encounter the world in other ways, ways that clash with all prior expectations and understanding, breaking the very possibility of safety. It is at such times that the artificiality of social structure, of companionship, of all that had been known stands exposed. And returning from such recognitions can prove difficult, if not impossible. (Can you ever fit the pieces together in the same way again? Don wants to believe so. Don has feigned to believe so. But now? Now?)

Don's seen it before. The permanence of unraveling. He'd glimpsed it before the war, he'd seen it in the fire and his own actions (he'd hardly believed them at the time, hardly understood the way that he grabbed for life, not his own but yes his own because he hadn't asked to see flesh afire and what he'd needed what he'd truly needed was to be freed of what awaited in America), and he'd seen it plenty of times after. Still sees it, and Don can't say with certainty when the first crack came or why it's never been sewn shut. Maybe he'd never really seen the world as whole. Maybe that was why he'd clung so blindly to the picture-perfect family when he'd finally found it, why he'd let himself ignore the creeping doubts though he knew they'd come through, knew the image would collapse.

And what do you do about it? You push through. Keep moving and try not to listen too close. Use the knowledge where you can and otherwise look elsewhere. Don doesn't have a final answer. There is no final answer; jesus, you've got to make your own way.

Granted that Ginsberg's raised a reasonable point: nobody plans for the soldiers leaving battle. Nobody guides them because nobody knows how, because to those outside it's only another job (an impressive one or a heinous one, but still just a job), and because soldiers are meant to be impervious. Unshakable. That's how the soldier fits into society's basic picture: the untouchable hero who needs no help, accepts no help. Who exists to stir passions on the homefront and defend the country overseas. A soldier is hardly human; why should he be ushered back into the fold?

But that isn't anything to dwell on. Bemoaning the state of that particular structure won't help anything, and is likely - as in Ginsberg's case - to in fact increase some sense of confusion. and Don isn't going to argue about it right now. Don isn't going to give Ginsberg impetus for pushing further down that road.

What is there to tell Ginsberg? Don feels pushed up against a wall, he feels a flash of anger, and mostly he feels himself to be at a loss. Because Ginsberg won't listen, not really; he misses - doesn't he always? - the implications working behind the words, misses the opportunities that their spaces offer. When understanding doesn't present itself, the key is to create answers and craft your own understanding. Don doesn't manage it quite as well anymore, but he had been expert with the skill before, and it had kept him moving when the world seemed shaken. He doesn't entirely comprehend Ginsberg's stubborn adherence to direct answers.

"Nobody explains it because there is no ready-made answer." There's a harsher edge in his voice, a force that covers for exasperation. "There is no... approved program for achieving stability. Nobody can solve anything for you."

But that isn't entirely fair, and he relents slightly, shaking his head. "You pick your rules. And you know where you are. Look around. Here is where you're standing. Here is your work and everything you have outside of work, your home. Here is everyone who looks you in the eye or brushes past with a quick hello. Here is what you can touch, what you can share with the people around you." This is ridiculous. That he should be saying this to Ginsberg... Something in this feels absurd.

"You don't need to spend the rest of your life wrapped up in what you remember. Let yourself be here, and you'll find your way forward.

"It takes time."
Edited 2014-02-24 07:27 (UTC)
knockfourtimes: (don't give me that)

[personal profile] knockfourtimes 2014-02-26 03:36 am (UTC)(link)
Jesus. Ginsberg's... Calling him a wreck wouldn't be right, because Don's seen worse, Don's been worse, and this seems to be more of an outburst than a permanent rupture. (Can he be sure of that? Something here seems to run deeper. Something he'd seen in their last encounter, something that should have receded but seems if anything to have increased in intensity.) Is he a mess at the moment? Yes. Yes, that seems to be a close enough description.

Again, think it out: Ginsberg's tired, he's been sleeping in the goddamn office for who knows how many nights, and he's obviously worked up about something. Something? The war. Being back home. Being left to figure out how to navigate the world again. (That might explain the odd silence Don had heard mentioned over the past several weeks, the seemingly amenable change in Ginsberg. Something building. Something uncertain.) It's a lot, or Don can admit that it might seem overwhelming if not quickly stifled or redirected. Ginsberg's never seemed particularly skilled at controlling anything - indignant outbursts, snide remarks, ad campaigns he'd been told to keep quiet, anything. Ginsberg's also been prone to outbursts; this is only a more explosive manifestation.

It's easiest to think about this in logical terms. To accept it as an almost predictable occurrence, because what else was he to expect, having come across a half-dressed Ginsberg drifting absently through the dark? But that might not be quite right. It might be a mistake to take this as just another one of Ginsberg's episodes or trialsome quirks. Because he'd been overseas and clearly hasn't begun to separate himself from the past (’am I supposed to believe that you aren't wrapped up in what you remember, too?’). Because watching Ginsberg, Don feels himself unnerved - just slightly - by the rawness. Because the disjointed fury is one that Don recognizes a little too well.

And the words... What he’d done or hadn’t done. How emptiness becomes an actuality. what it is to pretend.

'You don't know what you're talking about.' He could say. But that would be acknowledging it. That might come close to admitting something. And after all, Don suspects that Ginsberg does have a clear idea of what he’s saying. He’s proven his too-close vision before, after all. What he’d said last time… but Don doesn’t want to think about.

Ginsberg's made a point here, yes, Ginsberg's hit upon truth, but it isn't any sort of revelation to Don. He's confronted these same thoughts often enough, found himself pulled down their vines to deeper suggestions and whispers that Ginsberg hasn't begun to touch on. Don knows his own hollowness; hearing it spoken gives no sudden bolt of terror. It might be mildly worrisome to hear the words coming from Ginsberg's mouth, and maybe a year ago, Don would have reacted with greater indignation. Maybe he would have been alarmed. A year ago, he might have thought himself still capable of hiding his frayed edges. Now? Mostly, he's surprised that more people haven't noticed. Now, Ginsberg's declaration only leaves him feeling tired.

Don has had enough of this. He's had enough of looking at these same faults and incompatibilities, enough of wondering how long he has until he wears out entirely. And he certainly isn't about to engage with Ginsberg on any of that. (Would it be the worst thing? Would it? Just to talk?)

Fuck. Fuck. Don isn't in the mood for this. He shouldn't have said as much as he had the last time they'd spoken. He shouldn't have allowed himself to be drawn in...

Only somewhere… Somewhere, maybe, he thinks he wants this. Something about it.

Never mind. It’s ridiculous, and it isn't anything he can say. For several moments he remains silent, looking at the cup in his hand, waiting until he can speak with complete control.

"Is this where I'm supposed to say something, or would you rather just continue shouting at me?

"I was under the impression that we were having a conversation. Until you decided to start taking pot-shots at the U.S. government. Until my personal life became a topic for discussion.

"You're asking me to talk about things that aren't any of your business. You're asking me to talk about things that don't matter. That isn't conversation; that's deranged.

"If you want to have an adult discussion, fine. If you want to wallow in some sort of confused misery, I have work I could be doing."

Those words aren't right. He knows it, feels a mild queasiness as the words rise, but displays only a fleeting flicker of unease. His hand has been played; best to stand by it.

He hears the echo of Ginsberg's question, ’Don't you ever get sick of pretending?’ Always. Never. A question is how far the pretending goes. A question is whether it all blends together at this point, whether the show is reality enough in its own way. Whether it even matters if there’s reality involved, at all. (Of course it matters, of course it does.) He wonders.

It doesn't... It doesn't matter.
knockfourtimes: (no.)

[personal profile] knockfourtimes 2014-03-08 09:17 pm (UTC)(link)
He doesn’t know what to do about that terror. He doesn’t know what to do with what looks like shock, with the suddenness of Ginsberg’s transformation and the cold distance it suggests. When the pallor had first set in, Don had taken half a step forward, setting his cup on the counter because he’d been certain Ginsberg was going to hit the floor. When Ginsberg remained standing – half-dead by all appearances (jesus that had been so easy, shouldn’t have happened like that, shouldn’t have come on so hard) but somehow still upright – Don had kept his distance, and now he continues to hold his position, waiting for a sign to move in, hoping he won’t have to. It would be safer not to touch Ginsberg. Better to maintain this space between them.

(Where has Ginsberg gone? Don probably doesn’t want to know.)

It’s amazing, it’s incredible – or absurdly apt – that Ginsberg begins speaking again, that he even flashes something like humor. Nothing, nothing can keep this man silent. And while part of Don wishes that Ginsberg would put an end to these words, he’s relieved to find that Ginsberg hasn’t been thrown that far out of himself. These words might suggest the struggles of a drowning man trying to keep his head above water, but at least they suggest that Ginsberg is still functional.

Granted that beyond the words, Ginsberg still looks a wreck (and now it is, yes, now wreck is the right word for it; always amazing what a word or two can do). Granted that Ginsberg isn’t exactly backing away from his line of inquiry. There has been so much rage and blankness from Ginsberg tonight. What do you even do with this situation. What is there to say? Words can’t heal (not really, not unless you believe in them, and Ginsberg seems chronically unable or unwilling to believe; a situation perhaps not far removed from his own), and there are no answers.

Words are what he has, though, words are just about all he has to work with, and he reaches for a start. There's exasperation again, but this time it's more with himself, maybe with the situation. "I didn't say you were—"

But of course that had been the implication, and this the intended effect. Consciously or not, Don had selected the words because he'd known (he hadn't been thinking it directly, but on a lower level he's always working, on a lower level he always chooses with care) how they might strike Ginsberg. Because he’s always understood the worth of words and where they hit the hardest. Because he knows that even where words cannot heal, they can wound and confound, because doubt creates a blindness of its own. And, yes, because he'd hoped to silence Ginsberg, and there's something unworthy about that, something at which he cringes internally.

He’d pushed too far this time. Jesus, it isn’t the first time, it isn’t as if he hasn’t made a life of seeing how far he can press his words, how far provoke without surface-level aggression. But this… He’d seen the state Ginsberg was in. He should have known better. There are better ways of dealing with situations.

It’s only (only?) that Don doesn’t care to have this conversation. That opening his own situation wouldn’t do either of them a goddamn bit of good. ‘Whoever the fuck you are.’ The answer to that would be smoke and instability, and Don doubts that he has an answer. How many times has he heard the question? And his response – whispered through his mind only, at night and unbidden – becomes more uncertain with every passing year. If he’d ever known, his knowing has been uprooted, his image strained and separated until he can hardly believe in his own solidity.

And Don isn’t certain that it – it, this bigger question, it, this idea of his own emptiness and memory – does matter to him, not anymore. Because everything is distant. Because nothing can change what has been and nothing, nothing stands to stop him in this down-slope. Nothing needs to. Because it doesn’t… What would be the worth otherwise?

Don doesn’t want to talk about it. Certainly, he isn’t about to share this depth of un-mattering with Ginsberg. He wants to solve the problem and put an end to the vague worry of it (more than vague, though he won’t admit that, won’t allow the thought). Jesus, why is this so hard? (That is, that is a ridiculous question.)

“Maybe I don’t want to have that conversation.

“You could have been clearer about the conversation you wanted to have. But what I said—It’s late. I didn’t mean that. You aren’t the only one who asks questions, Ginsberg. Even the most blissfully ignorant schoolgirls have their moments of crisis. We all live on the edge of these questions, and on the edge of recognizing that the answers aren’t clear. That we don’t always know who we are.

“The difference is that you’re more aware of this edge right now. You think with more intensity than most people. And you were in a shitty situation. That’s all.

“I’m not going to say I don’t have questions. But I’m not going to open myself for you to dissect because you’re having trouble finding perspective. That isn’t what I’m here for.”

He shakes his head, exhales. “Jesus, will you sit down?”
knockfourtimes: (one where i can remember)

[personal profile] knockfourtimes 2014-03-21 11:15 pm (UTC)(link)
'I used to want to be you.' Why would you ever, why would you ever. 'You,' whoever that is, back to that question and wondering whether he'd ever been that person, himself, thinking it isn't the case. Because of course the you in question is only an image, an empty but serviceable display crafted to accompany his name. Not even his own name, exactly.

It had begun as a way of re-creating himself, a way of ripping some path out of the benign malignancy of a dead-end existence. He'd learned how to thrive by packaging his particular skills in the guise of a man who could only be called enigmatic. (It was a way of selling himself, though of course he hadn't thought of it that way; at one time, it had almost seemed an admirable struggle, the classic tale of the self-made mad.) A man whose very silence suggested that he held answers, who garnered attention and a perhaps-grudging respect precisely because he kept himself distant. The more removed he'd been, the harder it had been for anyone to attack, and the stronger his image became.

Until it was all that anyone knew of him (almost anyone, but the one who'd really known is gone now, and those who had begun to know have been driven away). Until he fell to believing it himself and lived for a time as that self-crafted shadow, hardly realizing that by severing from everything and holding only to this image, he'd lost contact with the ground. When he'd awakened from belief in the image, he'd found himself disorientated. Nothing to go back to. Nothing to believe. Hardly anything he knew about himself, and nowhere he wanted to go.

In any case, it's the image that Ginsberg has referenced - it must be - and this isn't the first time Don has heard the sentiment. Craft an effective mask, present yourself as a worldly success, and others will clamor to echo your image. That someone as outwardly (and, yes, inwardly, but it's the exterior that counts) chaotic as Ginsberg should even think of emulating Don Draper seems almost laughable, but wishfulness and actuality rarely align, and there's no way of telling exactly what Ginsberg had seen in Don. Even if Ginsberg hadn't seen down to the bottom, he might have held a different view of the image; Ginsberg has always seemed too acute for his own good.

Isn't that what's going on here? Ginsberg sees too far and with too much intensity. It's probably a part of what fires and distinguishes Ginsberg's creative work - and Ginsberg's work is better than good, speaks with an agile, heavy-hitting resonance that had at one time seemed threatening (and maybe still does, in moments) - but it's also left him here, curled against a break room cabinet in a show of vulnerability that almost (almost?) hurts to see.

Don doesn't know what to do about this. He wishes Ginsberg would pull himself together, shake it off, and go back to his office (that sounds absurd, too simple, and Don knows it). What do you do when an employee - and an employee with whom you don't have a particularly positive history - starts falling apart like this? Don won't leave him. He wants to, mostly, but he won't.

He just wants to talk. Whatever that means - it's a plea, there isn't any hiding that it's a plea, and how did Ginsberg reach this point? - he just wants to talk. And he is, at least, being more reasonable about subject matter. (Had he been especially unreasonable? Of course. Of course, Don's life isn't any of his business. Nothing gave him the right to ask.)

Something about Ginsberg's talk of what it means to be a natural, something about the unfinished sentence('now I'm') leaves Don uneasy, though he doesn't want to venture into that mire. Don has finally gotten Ginsberg away from prying at his life; inviting Ginsberg to expand on his half-sentence seems a sure way of bringing Ginsberg right back to prodding at Don's life. So Don lets it go without remark, those he can't shake it from his head.

Now you're what?

There's a price for everything. Never mind.

When he speaks, his voice is gentler than it had been. "Ginsberg, I don't think you're crazy."

Ginsberg's idiosyncrasies and impulses are particularly - sometimes painfully - noticeable, but in the end, he probably isn't crazier than anyone else around the office. He just doesn't know how to hide, or doesn't bother doing so... Though maybe that isn't quite true. Maybe that's what he's been doing since his return, maybe that's why he's supposedly been so quiet. Jesus, is this what happens when Ginsberg tries to mute himself?

"I also don't think spending the night in a deserted office is the best way of avoiding silence."

Don takes a step forward before lowering himself to crouch near Ginsberg. Somehow, this is easier than looking down on him; that distance makes Ginsberg look more exposed, more lost in the space of the half-lit break room. Ginsberg doesn't look especially great up close, but this proximity is better than that sense of loss.

"You can talk about the war. You can talk about your own life all you want." That's a dangerous door to open, and Don hopes that Ginsberg will leave it shut. He thinks he will; Ginsberg has seemed more interested in discussing Don's affairs than his own. It should be safe.

"As far as the office goes, you probably know as much as I do. Joan's started the search for a new office manager. Peggy's taking Ken to Indianapolis to scope out Mallory Batteries." There had been rumors of fractures in the relationship with their current ad agency, though no one is especially hopeful, and it wouldn't be a major account. "And Harry Crane is doing everything in his power to convince us that we need to expand the television department."
knockfourtimes: (the stranger)

[personal profile] knockfourtimes 2014-04-05 08:23 am (UTC)(link)
This is uncomfortable. To put it mildly, and just as a way of trying to define the situation. (It's difficult, of course, when the fact is that this situation simply shouldn't be occurring, when the pieces still don't seem entirely possible, but when has actuality ever made much sense? The truth of life is that it's pieces never fit the way they should. The truth of life is that everything is more absurd than could be imagined, and that the absurdity is ordinary.) If he can define the situation, Don thinks he can continue to manage it. So long as he continues to search for understandable terms and definitions, he can remain removed from the situation. And he needs to. This isn't anything he should fall into.

It's clear enough that Ginsberg has tumbled into something, though he seems to be attempting to pull himself back out. (Is that surprising? Is that almost... admirable, in a way? Don might not have thought that Ginsberg possessed the wherewithal to regain himself like this, if Don had thought on it at all.) His eyes are still unsettling, so close now that Don almost does pull away, tries to sunder this unstable connection before he has to really face it, before the sensing of it takes on the guise of responsibility. It's like looking into the eyes of a drowning man, or at least a man who thinks he's drowning. It's painfully familiar.

'I don't have anywhere else to go.' Of course he doesn't. Of course it isn't that easy, and Don suspects Ginsberg means more than that he lacks an actual home (though maybe he doesn't have anywhere to go, maybe he really doesn't). Because a part of Ginsberg is clearly still caught overseas. Because he apparently can't rid himself of what happened there ('because there's no help for it') and doesn't know what to do with it, maybe doesn't know what to make of himself in the wake of those events. Things happen. You change with whatever events you encounter... But if Ginsberg can't accept what happened, maybe he doesn't know what or where he is.

Such a fucking mess. And while Don would like to offer words, to present a solution that could wrap away the problem and shake Ginsberg out of this awkward despondency, he doesn't think this is a time to dwell on the matter. Every answer he's given thus far has only incited Ginsberg further. And what is there to say? Don doesn't have open-and-shut answers, and Don isn't convinced that Ginsberg is capable of accepting anything less than some clear-cut approach.

Maybe it’s better to stick with talk about work right now. Maybe he'll come back to the rest if the time feels right, or if he can't avoid it any longer (some issues press, demand expression like that).

All right, he can talk about work. They were doing well enough with that before, weren't they? So Don nods, elbows resting on his knees, and speaks in an almost casual tone. "Jeff Franklin. He keeps a stack of porno magazines on his desk."

Of course Ginsberg was right; Peggy would be fine. There was no question of that, though Ted had insisted on making absolutely certain that she knew what she was getting into, and that she knew she didn't have to go. Peggy hadn't so much as batted an eye. If anything, she'd become more firmly set on winning the account in spite of Franklin's shady reputation. "If Peggy can cut through the licentiousness, we might be running ads for double As in the near future."

"Double As and socks." The news about Hammett & Sons is a surprise, though he betrays the fact only through a moment of silent processing. Either nobody had mentioned the account to him, or he hadn't been listening. Maybe it had come up in a partners' meeting. Maybe it hadn't, and whoever was running the talks (did Peggy know? did Ted?) had simply decided that Don didn't need to know.

He isn't certain that it should matter. It probably should, and it raises worries, suggestions that he's entertained on and off for the past several months. There comes a time when usefulness wears itself out, after all. There comes a time when whatever talent, whatever pull you once had is no longer enough to hold you.

It stings for a moment, and then he pushes it away. Never mind. He can't know what happened (but, Christ, shouldn't this put more pressure on whatever he may or may not come up with for Sunkist? what follows after being removed from news of potential business?). He can't know what it means. There isn't any use in worrying.

"My wife used to swear by Hammett & Sons." He says it without thinking about the statement; it's only something to advance the dialogue. Betty had purchased Hammett & Sons socks often enough that to mark them in Don's mind, after all. "Something about longevity and colorfastness. They weren't uncomfortable, but they weren't exactly memorable, either." So far as Don had been concerned, they'd just been another brand of socks. He hasn't bought them since.

"I can't think of a more boring product to crowd the airwaves with."
Edited 2014-04-05 08:25 (UTC)