Last weekend, some good friends of us threw a party. They wanted a theme. I can't remember the last time I went to a 'themed' party. Unless, maybe, you count pork as a theme. So they decided to throw a Mad Men party. Appropriate attire was encouraged.
We watched Mad Men through the first season, but that coincided with our move to England, and we kind of fell out of the habit. It's dark and moody, and while I loved watching the office environment from back in the day as a comparison to the office of today, the emotional turmoil wasn't really our kind of escapism. Even if it is fantastically written.
(We're much more into the newer AMC character drama set in the 1870's, Hell on Wheels. It's still all kinds of emotionally scarring and screwed up interplay. But with cowboys.)
Most of the party goers had - at best - only fuzzy, childhood memories of the 60's. Or, like me, had only read/seen about it, as we were added to the world a few years later.
Apparently, what stood out in all of our memories were cigarettes and unnatural fibers. Because there were plenty of both at the party. Our hostess found boxes of artificial cigarettes and wrapped them in Lucky Strikes packages. Which was good for a laugh, and a placeholder. But who the hell are they marketing these to these days? Can I also find Candy Tequila Bottles to make sure the kids have a well balanced start?
I admit I was more than a little tempted to grab a couple of packs and stuff them into the kids' lunch boxes for school on Monday.
Because this was a Mad Men party, there was also a lot of booze. Not the candy kind, either.
This part I was much more into.
I got into a bourbon kick over the holidays, and can make a pretty worthwhile Old Fashioned these days. It seemed appropriate.
I had to buy almost nothing to fit into the theme, except that skinny tie. Pinstripe suit? Check. Retro-Italian pointy leather shoes? Of course. My Bride asked me if I had a fedora. Of course I have a fedora. I have several. I finally admitted a few years ago that I am incapable of keeping track of an umbrella. But I never have a problem keeping track of a hat.
I'm also secretely rooting for the return of the hat. I'm not sure why it died off. But I blame the hippies.
My Bride surprised me with how much she got into the theme. She approached it with her normal scientific discipline and research. She found a dress from the time period and had the hemline altered (she's shorter than the original owner, apparently). And spent hours experimenting with various hair styles.
Hair in the 60's for women involved a lot of product and tools. There were cans of aqua net and combs that looked like I could use them to make big rocks into little rocks. Or at least big ice cubes into little ice cubes. And it left it in tangles the next day until it was washed thoroughly a couple of times. I don't know how my mother didn't end up bald. I do dig the dress, though.
We asked if we could bring something to contribute to the party effort. 60's themed dishes were called for. So my Bride went back to her research and developed several authentic options for the menu contribution. We brought deviled eggs (which remain a Southern staple) and this marshmallow salad, with canned cherries and oranges, and mayonnaise. Also note the jello mold holding a proud place anchoring the table behind it.
OK, I can get behind some of the fashion choices, and live with the hair accessories. But how the hell did anyone survive the 60's food? Most of the choices came out of a can and had no aquaintance with anything that once lived in a garden. There were also a huge number of things served on Ritz crackers. At least half involved mayonnaise or a can of Cream of Mushroom soup. Or tinned pineapple juice. You know. To be fancy.
On the good note: that punch in the bowl there was about 30% rum. Which made up for a hell of a lot.
We absolutely loved the party and had a blast with our friends that evening. Might have to go back and watch the whole series now. But I can only imagine what our children will think of the themed parties they hold 50 years from now.