She knew only one way to fence off male attention, a daunting method indeed, and she was not a fan of bringing it into practice. But over the past forty-five years, Donna McLaren had not lost her feminine charm, and members of the other sex still persisted in courting her.
Like most other women, Donna was unaware of the secret of her magnetic power. Like many of her peers had pointed out, she wasn’t particularly beautiful. Her chin was too plump for her thin neck, and her blonde hair was fizzy on the top. Her chest was relatively flat and her arms were remarkably long. But her admirers didn’t notice any of this, because there is something irresistibly ladylike about having something more important on your mind than men.
All Donna wanted was some time to write down her musings on the meaning of life. Not because she thought she had an answer or even a precise question – she knew better than anyone that she was nowhere near catching a glimpse of what she was looking for. But she felt that, while writing, her thoughts became more concentrated, and her writings were like a map back to where she had left off when she had to attend another date.
Because declining offers politely, Donna had found, was a time consuming business. More often than not, she reluctantly agreed to listen to their small talk and compliments over free dinner in a restaurant where she’d been with over seventy different men before. When she was younger, older gentlemen used to take her here, and they felt like they were showing her something new in the world. Soon, her own generation started fancying French cuisine. By now, she was asked out by boys who could have been her own son, if she wouldn’t have rejected her first dates.
The waiting staff made a show of informing her on the specialties of the house and which wines to chose, though they knew she’d invariably choose for lobster. Not because she liked it – it was an acquired taste – but because she was allowed to eat it with her hands. Throughout the meal, Donna would take off veil after veil of elegance, wiping her hands on the table cloth and drinking the expensive wine as if it were ale in a pub, Pepsi from a bottle, water from a through.
Most men wouldn’t even buy her dessert after this performance, but they usually tipped the waiter generously so that he wouldn’t spread the gossip. They’d pay for her taxi, but walk home themselves. Donna didn’t mind all this. She just wondered why they’d bothered in the first place. It was the same old question that kept popping up and pestering her, as soon as her writings seemed to get her anywhere.