The office door has barely closed behind Peggy before Don is placing a sheet of paper in her hand. This sudden meeting was not at all what she had expected on a tiring Monday afternoon. "What do you think?" Don's eyes are bright, seeking her approval, though she can hardly believe it.
Peggy tilts her head slightly to the side, keeping a polite mask on her face. She glances down at the paper, rubbing distractedly at her upper arm with her free hand. She can still feel the imprint of his fingers there from when he greeted her at his office door.
"What is this?" she asks with lighter curiosity than she feels, shifting the paper to look at it more clearly.
His odd expression doesn't slip, but his tone becomes firmer. "Just tell me."
The image is crude, though artistic. This isn't Don's cocktail napkin scrawling, left over from a weekend of partying. A young woman behind the wheel of a sports car, a Mustang, maybe? Her hair flies back in the wind; her smile is wide. Below is the caption, "ZOOM!"
"It's more of a..." She hesitates, not because he's afraid of his reaction; they're past that now. Her relationship with Don has just felt off-kilter since before Christmas. "More of a man's car, isn't it?"
"You couldn't see yourself driving one?" he wheedles, almost as if she were the client.
"I don't drive at all, Don."
His eyebrows rise, and now she feels like the one selling him on the idea.
"I think women want something more comfortable, more efficient. It's about getting to the event, not how flashy the car is."
"Really," he says, his tone dry. "That must explain the recent decline in jewelry and makeup sales."
Her lips twist. "Not the same." She looks at the drawing again. "Still, the sleek design is appealing. Is this what the client wants? To lure females to the sports car market?"
"It's for the new Mercury Cougar coming on the market next year. They're going to try to compete with the Mustang." He plucks the page from her fingers and sizes it up again. "They're looking for a fresh campaign."
The agency needs all the new business it can get, after the Lucky Strike debacle. And Peggy knows what it's like to go after business you don't yet have signed. "Are you sure that's the right direction to go, though? The Mustang's a muscle car – I'd think they would want to court the teenage market." With a wry smile, she adds, "And middle-aged men wishing they were teenagers again."
"Cute." He mimics her grin briefly. "And I thought the same thing. But then I tal–" He clears his throat, and begins again. "I realized that every ad agency will be thinking it. If we want their business, we need to be different."
There's more to this, Peggy can feel it. Carefully, she asks, "So you're asking my opinion because...?"
"Because you're a woman? Because you're young?" The philosophically light tone leaves his voice in an instant. "I pay you to have opinions, Peggy."
She nods, unflinching. She is learning not to apologize from the best.
"And because I want you on point for this. Do you think this angle has any merit?"
She reaches for the drawing again and studies it. "I think it can. There's a breeziness and freedom about it that I like. It has the spare quality of the Volkswagen ads, without being a slavish imitation." She holds the page at arm's length and tilts it. "And with the right art direction..."
"Great." Don reaches down to press the intercom button on his desk. "Ms. Calvet. Megan." A warm affection threads his voice. "Please ask Mr. Alberts to join me in my office right away."
Alberts is the new artist Don hired straight out of NYU, for half the salary of the guys they'd let go last month. They'd worked together only briefly so far. Is this Alberts's idea? But the crude simplicity of the drawing doesn't make sense if the art department is already involved.
When Alberts arrives, Megan stays in the room, closing the door quietly behind her. "So?" she asks, stepping quickly to Don's side.
Don gives his fiancée an affectionate smile. "Peggy thinks it's workable, with the right art."
Megan's face lights up. "Really?" She turns toward Peggy. "Not too simplistic?"
Peggy looks between Don and Megan, nonplussed. She doesn't know what to say, though she should have seen it coming. For some silly reason she'd thought Don would wait to make her a copywriter until after the wedding.
"Ah," Peggy finally manages. "No. Not at all. It's very... whimsical."
She must have sold her enthusiasm, because Megan gives her a hug instead of a handshake. "You're very kind. I was sure it was completely childish."
"It definitely rings of a first-timer, but there's a spark of a great idea in there," Don assures Megan. "It just needs the touch of someone with a more experienced eye." He places a hand on Peggy's shoulder as he speaks.
Amidst all of her conflicting emotions, Peggy fixates on the hand on her shoulder. She can feel a jolt of pride shoot through her – Don trusts her judgment, trusts her with Megan.
As soon as the hand is removed, though, she can hear Joan's voice in her mind. Better not screw this up, Peggy.
She watches Don discuss the idea with Alberts, while Megan looks on. Peggy can see her excitement threatening to bubble over, but she keeps it in check. It hasn't been that many years since Peggy was pitching her first idea. She can easily remember what it was like to be plucked from the secretarial ranks by the magnanimous Don Draper.
Megan catches her eye as they all leave the office. Peggy slows and waves Alberts on ahead.
"I'm really looking forward to working with you, Peggy," Megan says quietly. "Your story is really inspiring to a lot of us."
"To me at least. And I know I'll learn so much from you. Don thinks the world of you, you know that?"
"I..." Peggy begins, unsure how to respond. She looks back to where Don sits behind his desk, waiting for Megan to return. Can he hear them?
Megan notices the direction of her gaze and nods. "I think Don sees himself in you – he remembers what it was like to break into this business. It means a lot that he entrusted me to you." Megan squeezes her arm in the exact same place as Don had earlier, then waves a farewell as she closes the door to Don's office.
Peggy rubs again at her arm, blinking in the Monday afternoon light. With a shake of her shoulders she turns toward her office - only to see Joan standing in her doorway. Peggy quickens her pace to slip past her. "Oh god, please tell me you have an extra cigarette?"
As Joan closes the door behind them, she asks, "Started already, has it?"
Peggy slumps against the edge of the desk. "I'm supposed to mentor her in copywriting." She takes Joan's proferred cigarette and lights it, taking a long drag before adding, "Is this what I'm in for now? Every secretary that shows a little spark is now mine to train?"
Joan sniffs and rolls her eyes. "You know Don. She's just a pretty face, and he'll be tired of her soon enough. I'd be surprised if they even make it to the altar."
"I do know Don." She taps cigarette ashes into the tray beside her. "But Megan, she seems different. I can't tell you why."
"Oh, honey," Joan says, coming to sit beside her on the desk. "No one will replace you in Don's heart."
Peggy jerks her head up to look at Joan, who is smiling wryly.
"You know what I mean. Even if Megan Calvet is the second coming of Peggy Olsen, there's nothing like the original."
Peggy grins, already feeling better.
"Think of it this way: you don't need a mentor anymore, so you've become the mentor yourself." Joan nudges her shoulder, stubbing out her cigarette. "It's close to five o'clock. Want to sneak out of here and celebrate it?"
"Really?" Peggy glances out of the windows furtively.
Joan nods, slinging her purse and coat over her arm. "If they're going to give me a new title without any benefits, I'm going to create my own."
Peggy grabs her own pocketbook and jacket and follows her, never once looking back at Megan's empty desk.