Cathy Hamilton: Mad Man sparks fantasies

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Don't tell my husband, but I'm mad about another man.

I didn't mean for it to happen. It's not like I went looking for it or anything. It was just one of those things. One of those love-at-first sight, weak-in-the-knees, torridly rapturous things.

Oh, the agony of a heart divided! The guilt of immoral thoughts!

But - bless me Father, I have sinned - I just can't help myself. I'm in love with Don Draper.

The central character in AMC's hit TV drama "Mad Men" (my latest obsession) is tall, dark, handsome, a bit of a brute, and I can't get enough of him. Adding fuel to the fire, he's a tortured man with a secret and, well, there's just nothing in the world sexier than that. Am I right, ladies?

At first, I thought I had the whole affair under control. I would see him only on Sunday nights, from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. CDT. We'd have a martini or two, exchange glances from across a crowded Manhattan nightclub.

"Nice suit," I'd say with a wink. He wouldn't answer, but he'd look right through me with those brooding green eyes.

I forgave him his trespasses with other women. After all, I was a married woman myself - and older, to boot. Low-hanging yet forbidden fruit.

We could never be together, not in the biblical sense. But I was content just being in his company, soaking up his mysterious manliness, wondering what lies beneath that smoldering exterior.

By Episode 3 of Season 2, however, my passion was all-consuming. Starting Monday morning, I would count the hours until Don returned to my living room in high definition. I recorded each episode and watched reruns late into the night. Then Don entered my dreams, and I knew my goose was cooked.

Now, I'm torn between two lovers, feeling like a fool. But is loving both of them breaking all the rules?

Is adultery, committed in REM sleep, a breach of the Seventh Commandment? Is it really a sin to covet a man you know you will never have? OK, it's a sin, but will it be a deal-breaker at the pearly gates? That's what I need to know.

I've never met a rationalization I didn't like and, believe me, I tried them all.

"It's just a midlife crisis," I told myself. "A silly infatuation; it will pass."

Still, I was tortured. Riddled with shame and remorse.

Finally, last Sunday, while watching my darling Don snooze on the sofa (wife "Betts" cast him out of bed for breaking Commandment No. 7), it came to me - the best rationalization of all:

I'm in love with a fictitious character in a TV show set in the 1960s! Don isn't real. He's a figment of some screenwriter's imagination. And - do the math - if the guy lived to 2008, he'd be 80 years old, at least. Talk about low-hanging fruit. Shout hallelujah, my slate has been wiped clean!

What have I got to lose? I'll confess to my spouse my illicit desire for the Mad Man of Madison Avenue. He shouldn't be too surprised. Surely he hears me moaning every time Don appears on screen.

After all, this is the man who rode a Greyhound 600 miles in 1976 to visit me at my summer job, waiting tables in Minnesota. College sweethearts, we'd been apart for two months, exchanging only letters and the occasional phone call in the interim. We anticipated our reunion with a fervor and when the day finally arrived, I rushed into his arms at the bus stop and cried, "You'll never believe who is here : Paul Newman!!!!" (What can I say? You don't get the opportunity to serve breakfast to a movie star every day.)

My husband will no doubt take this news in stride. Our marriage has survived my infatuations with Paul Newman, Sean Connery, Gregory Peck, George Clooney, Ed Harris and every one of People magazine's "Sexiest Men Alive."

I'm sure he's got a few fantasies of his own, too. Perhaps he's even dallied in his dreams with a siren of the screen. That's OK. I can handle it.

But, heaven help me, if he's sleeping with that she-devil Heidi Klum, he's out on the couch till the end of the season.

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