Joan looked up from her desk when she heard her door open. Pete
Campbell walked in along with his trademark pompousness.
"I have a client dinner tonight. Wear your red dress and be ready at eight."
"You're not even going to ask me if I have plans? Remember that I'm a partner now Peter. I have just as much power as you do now."
"Oh, please, Joannie. We both know that no matter what title you have, I'll still have more power than you do. After all, it's a man's world."
"You're not nearly as charming or slick as you think you are Pete. Remember that I've dealt with plenty of men just like you, using their parents' name to make up for their utter lack of talent and throwing their weight around every opportunity they got, but at the end of the day, they were just pathetic little rich boys whose only accomplishment in life was being born into the right family."
"Just be ready by eight." Pete shut the door to Joan's office. Joan sighed, knowing that Pete was right. No matter how good she was at her job, she would still have to answer to pompous jerks like Pete, simply because she was a woman in a man's world.
Joan fixed her hair and shimmied into her red dress minutes before Pete came to pick her up. This wasn't the first client dinner that a copywriter had made her come to, hoping to use her charm and beauty to close a deal. It was however, the first client dinner where she had been alone with Pete, unable to use a coworker as a buffer against his general insufferability. She would have to act chummy with him to represent the unity of SCD, which would be almost unbearable, but, like most unpleasant things in Joan's life, she would suffer through it with a smile on her face, no one the wiser to how uncomfortable she was really feeling. Joan put on her lipstick and had just added the finishing touches to her ensemble when she heard a knock on her door. Joan opened the door to find Pete standing there.
"You look nice." Pete told her, his bluster barely failing to hide his breathlessness. Joan felt surprisingly affectionate towards him, now that she knew he didn't have nearly the control over his emotions as he would have hoped.
"Remember Pete, you're a married man." Joan smirked at him.
"Oh, don't flatter yourself." Pete scoffed, having recovered his imperiousness. Joan was glad. She didn't know how to deal with vulnerable, human Pete. She could, however, deal with conceited, insensitive Pete.
Joan laughed. "Your appreciation is anything but flattering." She walked down to his car and they drove off to the nightclub in complete silence. When they got to the club, Pete pitched Don's idea to the client while Joan flirted shamelessly, giving the clients just enough hope to make them susceptible to Pete's sales pitch. While Joan flirted, Pete watched with admiration at the affect that she had on men. When the client who was slightly less drunk than his business partner asked Joan to dance, she gladly accepted. Joan was pleased to discover that despite his inebriation, he was a good dancer and not too handsy either. They danced for awhile until Pete cut in. Unsurprisingly, he knew the mechanics of dancing perfectly.
"Your prep-school dance lessons serve you well."
"Surprisingly, it's been the most useful thing I learned in high school."
Joan laughed. "So, I take it you closed the deal?"
"Yes, after you buttered them up, selling them on Don's pitch was a piece of cake. The effect you have on men is unbelievable."
"But you're above it all."
"Not to the degree you might think." The music stopped, and they were left standing awkwardly in the few seconds before the next song started.
Pete cleared his throat. "I'll drive you home." They walked out with their clients, and, true to his word, Pete drove Joan home, then walked her to her door. Just as Joan was about to step inside her house, Pete kissed her. Joan violently pushed him off."
"Are you kidding me? Do you really think that you're the first coworker to try something like this? You're married, Pete. And I've learned my lesson about affairs with married men." Joan's tone got softer. "I know that you're lonely, and that you're trying to find some way to feel alive again, but believe me. This isn't the answer." Joan walked back into her house and shut the door behind her. When she was sure that Pete had left, she sighed, thinking about why she could never trust him and how despite her instincts to try and find the good in him, he was exactly what everyone else thought he was. Even if the motivations for his egregious actions were somewhat different from the popular belief, he was still an entitled snob who deserved every bit of self-loathing that Joan could see that he felt. Sometimes when he thought he was alone, or when he let his pompous, imperious facade slip for just a second, Joan could see the gut-wrenching pain and self-loathing that hid behind all of the defense mechanisms that Pete had put up in order to keep people from getting close to him, to keep people from getting to know him and all of those pesky, painful feelings that most people believed he was incapable of experiencing but that drove every action that he took nonetheless. The inferiority complex and self-loathing that drove him to succeed every day, if only so that he could hate himself just a little bit less. Even though Joan knew that Pete's overall despicable personality came from a place of vulnerability rather than simple entitlement, Joan really didn't care. Even though Joan's knowledge of Pete's inner psyche helped her understand Peter more than most people, it didn't help her like him any better, because every time that Joan considered giving Pete the benefit of the doubt, every time she felt even the smallest amount of sympathy for him, he proved himself to be the slimy, entitled rat that everyone thought he was. Even when Joan thought that she saw just the smallest glimpse of humanity within him, he would do something to prove Joan dead wrong and convince her that no matter how much pain he was suffering through underneath that overinflated ego of his, he deserved every bit of it.