The following is a work of fiction. Dr. K does not exist, though there may be many worthy characters like her.
Dr. K wore a blouse that was cut too low, the first time I heard her speak, and the distraction annoyed me. I had come to hear her talk about character motivation, something I desperately needed for my novel, yet found when the lecture was done I had no notes on my page. Nor could I assuage my guilt with a hurried summary, for all I remembered was bounce of her hair as she turned her head, and the way she chewed her upper lip in thought, and the way her cleavage flashed at me as she bent forward to speak into the microphone.
Dr. K. didn’t need to do that. She was a beautiful woman, and like any beautiful woman she didn’t have to ask for attention. Trite phrases from a face that lovely would draw a crowd, with only the most jealous of listeners bothering to complain, and Dr. K was anything but trite. My writer’s journal was full of notes drawn from her blog, from the time when all I knew was her words, and not her face. If she were plain in person, perhaps I could have learned from her again.
She asked for questions, and a young man in the back thanked her for choosing an example he particularly liked, and she smiled. That was the payoff, her smile. For a beautiful woman to acknowledge your words, to accept them, was validation enough for a man to speak, and for her to smile in response was the ultimate gift. “Happy girls are the prettiest,” Audrey Hepburn said, and it was true.
But those were twentieth-century values, reducing her value to mere appearance. Dr. K. was more than that, and how she chose to dress shouldn’t matter, but it does. For all the women who say “eyes up here,” there are three more whose tight t-shirts inscribed in tiny fonts will call your eyes back down, then tell you it’s your fault for reading. We are not all alone in our responsibility, we men, but still the blank white page accuses me.