My husband and I have been watching the show Mad Men. We're woefully behind - just now on season two. A couple nights ago, we reached an episode that had the best ever moment in the whole series. And I'd say it's even one of the best moments I've seen on TV.
Here's a quick synopsis of the episode.
The main character, Don Draper, spends half the episode debating buying a Cadillac. At first he decides no, but then he gets a salary bump at work and returns to the dealership. He brings the car home (those were the days, right guys? When you didn't have to run everything by your wife.) and takes his wife, Betty, and two kids out for a picnic. Before they get back in the car, he makes sure everyone goes to the bathroom and that all their hands are clean.
Meanwhile, there's a big party that Don and Betty have been invited to. They get all dressed up and take the Cadillac. While they're there, Betty learns that Don has been cheating on her. And, separately, Don is confronted by the husband of the woman he was cheating with. Here's a picture of Don and Betty as they leave the party:
Happy couple, right?
The next scene is them sitting in the Cadillac absolutely silent. There's maybe 30 or so seconds of silence, and you just know that any second now, Betty's going to say something to Don about what she learned.
She opens her mouth, and then...
The camera cuts to Don making a disgusted/horrified face, and the episode ends.
I burst out laughing because it caught me completely by surprise. Here I was sitting on my couch expecting the same ol' plot line - wife finds out husband is cheating, wife confronts him as soon as they get a moment of privacy. I did not expect her to throw up in her husband's brand new, very expensive car.
I've been thinking about that scene for days.
Would I still be thinking about it if Betty had confronted Don? Maybe. Maybe there would have been some good emotion, some good one-liners that made it memorable. But not as memorable.
This has inspired me to jot a note and hang it on the bulletin board next to my desk: Let her throw up.
What that means to me is, don't go for the obvious scene. I want to push myself to write the surprise, to write the unexpected.
Because you know what readers hate? Predictable.
So let her throw up.