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Crucial Update

The Graduation Speech of Don Draper, SCDP Class of 1971 Valedictorian

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Good morning fellow graduates, respected teachers, proud parents, Diana, relatives of Diana, friends of Diana, colleagues of Diana, and anyone who may know where I can find Diana. Today is the day we bust out of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce High! Go Advertisers!

SCDP provided the most exciting seven year experience one could ask for. Sometimes I hated it. I was nearly kicked out once or twice. I even secretly attended class from home. But I'm here now, and needless to say, life in these hallowed halls has never been boring.

Hey Roger, remember when you took LSD with Jane, and you saw Bert Cooper's face on a five dollar bill? Then you watched the 1919 World Series from your bathtub? You are one crazy motherducker! But seriously, if you ever need some comic relief or some cheering up, Roger has a semi-NSFW painting for that.

Peggy, I’ll never forget your first day here at SCDP, when Pete asked you if you were Amish…and you thought he was serious! You've come such a long way, from testing lipsticks to crafting national ads for them. I guess now is a good time to tell you that whenever I criticized your work, it was only because I was trying to make it better—make you better. One night, just after I shouted "That's what the money's for" at you (sorry about that, by the way), I asked what the most exciting thing about a suitcase is. You responded, "Going somewhere," and Peggy ol’ Peg-a-Lope, you sure are going somewhere.

Birdie. Betts. it's been quite the ride for us. Some of my best experiences took place in our Ossining home. You gave me Sally, Bobby, and Baby Gene. I'll never forget rekindling post-divorce at Bobby's sleepaway camp or having dinner outside with you in Rome, hearing you speak Italian like a local. Plus, no one can shoot pigeons with a BB gun while wearing a nightgown quite like you can. Bye bye, Birdie. I'll miss you dearly. And I'm sorry about that birthday cake that never made it home.

Miss Holloway. Joanie. This place would probably just burn down if it weren't for you. It could also burn down with your help, and if I were you, I'd probably do it. Every secretary here has benefitted from your tutelage. And even though we haven't agreed on everything in the past few years, I will still miss you.

Petey, my boy, it's been a rocky road for us. Remember when I told you to get a cardboard box and put your things in it? Or when you threatened to tell Bert Cooper about my past, but I beat you to it, and he didn't even care? Good times. When we started, you were just getting married. In that time, you've managed to get divorced, and then coupled up with Trudy all over again. That's gotta be some kind of record! No matter what happens in your future, always—always!—remember nobody can wear a cable-knit V-neck quite like you can.

Before I descend from this stage and potentially say goodbye to you forever, I have some advice. Be bold. Understand that the best idea always wins. You'll know it when you see it. To get there, remember just "keep banging your against a wall and it happens." You know what I'm sayin' Peg-a-lope! Attend important meetings with your most valuable client completely unprepared, with nothing but some hieroglyphic notes jotted down on the cocktail napkin that belonged to your Old Fashioned ten minutes ago. Pitches are best made when totally plastered. Spend as much time as you can in California. Decide who you want to be, and make it happen. You are the only person who can define (and redefine!) who you are. The name on your passport means nothing. Trust me on that one.

But ultimately, I wish you futures filled with happiness, which I, early on in freshman year, defined as, "The smell of a new car." So to all of the graduates with red bow-embellished Volkswagen Beetles waiting outside, you’re on the right track! Speaking of cars, if anyone has an extra, I just gave mine away to a teenager somewhere in the middle of Oklahoma. Come find me after this thing.

I've said it once and I'll say it again, "In Greek, nostalgia literally means the pain from an old wound...It goes backwards, forwards, it takes us to a place where we ache to go again." That feeling for me, right now, is real. I may never see you guys again. Seriously, I asked Matt Weiner if we'd meet again, but he wouldn't tell me. So it's with a sentimental heart that I repeat the finest thing our classmate Roger ever said: "We can solve this problem with a flask." I raise my flask to the class of 1971. Thank you and always be pitching.

This speech is dedicated to Bert Cooper, Ida Blankenship, and Lane Pryce.