Dinner Conversation 

By Jo March

Spoilers: "The Portland Trip" 

Summary: Donna carries on a little conversation over dinner, but it's not her date she's talking to. 

Disclaimers: They're still not mine; they belong to Aaron Sorkin and his corporate bosses. 

Thanks as always to Ryo Sen, especially for being as furious about the self-worth thing as I was. This one's for you, babe. Now go finish your story and make it all better.


"Making me the youngest person to ever be appointed to that high an office within my corporation."

"Really?" The upside is that it's easy to keep my side of this conversation going. Just smile, node, utter a syllable here or there. It's not like Todd is listening to me.

Here's the thing: I honestly was not looking for a long-term relationship. I mean, what was I supposed to say to Josh when he suddenly told me I have to work on Friday night when I had this big date planned? "Sorry, Josh, but I met this guy at a part and he's cute and he seems nice and I haven't gotten laid in a year and I desperately need sex"?

It isn't like I lied. When I met Todd, I was thinking about the lack of sex in my life and I did think Todd was the guy. And that is certainly a vibe of sorts. A good vibe.

The vibe has definitely worn off, however. Even after two whiskey sours, Todd is unbearable. Maybe if I had time for a third.

"I was personally responsible for modernizing the way in which pet insurance rates are determined."

"Were you?" Cause there's something impressive to put on a resume. I'm telling you, it's right up there with getting a liberal Democratic governor from New Hampshire elected president.

You see what you've done to me, Josh? I am now comparing every guy I meet to you. Even when I'm so furious with you that I don't care if I never see you again.

I mean, what was that crack about? What the hell was that? "Your desire to be coupled will always and forever drown out any small sense of self or self-worth that you may have." What the hell was that about?

Don't give me excuses, Josh. Don't tell me that you'd had a long day and it had just gotten longer. Don't tell me that you were upset because I didn't volunteer to cancel my plans at the last minute. Don't tell me you just said the first thing that popped into your head and you didn't mean it.

People always mean the first thing that pops into their heads, Josh. That's why it's the first thing.

So is that truly the way you see me? You think I'm some pitiful little creature who just wants to find a man to define her? Is that who you think I am, Josh?

Because if that's what you think of me, I quit. I don't need that. I do not need to spend the vast majority of my time with someone who thinks I'm in constant danger of losing my small sense of self-worth.

Screw you, Josh Lyman. I quit.

Which is what I should have said back at the office. Instead of that lame "you're a downer" crack. But I knew that if I said what I was thinking-well, there are some things you just can't take back.

Like what you said to me tonight, Josh.

And can I just point out how completely inaccurate your remarks were? What desire to be coupled? When in the three years you have known me have I been in a relationship? I haven't had more than a handful of dates with the same guy in three years. That's the problem. I never seem to meet any interesting men. The last truly interesting man I met was you, Josh, and you're a jerk, so that doesn't count.

If I had some great desire to be coupled, I would convince myself that Todd, or someone like him, was intriguing. I would delude myself right into a serious relationship. Do you see me doing that, Josh?

This is what you've been thinking about me for the last three years, isn't it? You felt sorry for me when you found out about the whole Dr. Free Ride fiasco and you gave me a job. Out of pity. Is that what our entire relationship is based on? Because that is just not acceptable.

Besides, have you thought about this one? If I'm so pitiful, what does that say about you? Who is in charge of making order out of the chaos that is Josh Lyman's life? That's right: Donnatella Moss. Your life is being run by a woman with no sense of self. Think about that, Deputy Downer.

God, that line was even lamer than "gather ye rosebuds." Why did I say that? And speaking of gathering rosebuds, at least I'm trying. At least I am willing to take a chance, even if I do keep meeting men like Todd, who suffer in comparison to-well, at least I'm trying.

Two words: Joey Lucas. The closest you got there was giving her a coffee mug. Face it, Josh, you have issues. A person could say, if she wanted to be cruel, that you are too self-involved to make any relationship work. A person could say that your desire for the sound of your own voice will always and forever drown out whatever small sense of altruism or self-sacrifice that you may have.

A person could wish she'd said that.

We won't even discuss Mandy Hampton. Yeah, you're the poster boy for healthy relationships there, Josh.


"I'm really sorry, Todd, but I do have to leave. My boss is expecting me back."

"Are you sure you can't get out of it? I'm having such a great time. You're a terrific listener, you know that?"

"Thanks, but it's kind of important."

"Well, I'll call you tomorrow."

Thank god for caller I.D. * * *

So this is what I came back for: to answer the phone once and to try to bond with my Republican clone.

It makes me long to be back at the restaurant with Todd. At least there, I could have another whiskey sour.

I hate this dress. I hate this dress almost as much as I hate boring insurance lobbyists and trying to make small talk with that insufferably condescending Ainsley Hayes. What was I thinking when I bought a sleeveless dress to wear in November?

Stupid dress.

Stupid, wasted evening.

"Tonight stunk, Josh."

Why did I say that? Couldn't I just keep a modicum of dignity and not tell him how bad the date was? But, no, listen to me telling him about it.

Oh, wait. I know why I'm doing it. I'm giving him one last chance. Come on, Josh. Think about what a jerk you were. Apologize. All will be forgiven if you'll just apologize.

"You look really great in that dress tonight, Donna. You should buy it for yourself."

Right. Cause I am just swimming in extra cash. Jerk.

And off he goes. That is as close to an apology as I'm getting.

It's not enough. It isn't nearly enough.

Maybe tomorrow I'll work on updating my resume.

You want to know the sad part? You want to know the really pathetic part of all this? I know I won't quit.

"Hello. My name is Donnatella, and I'm a Josh Lyman addict."

If I had any sense, I would quit. But I know I won't, so what's the point of wasting my Saturday updating my resume?

I tell you, it's enough to make a person question her sense of self-worth.

But one thing I know I'm doing: I'm taking back this damn dress. I never want to see this dress again.

And one more thing: I'll spend the weekend thinking of ways to get back at him for that crack. When he tells me to order a hamburger for him, I'll make sure it comes back rare. I will memorize several dozen pointless pieces of trivia with which to annoy him. I won't tell him when his suit is too rumpled to wear to a meeting in the Oval Office.

For the next week, Josh Lyman, I am going to make your life a living hell.

This is going to do wonders for my sense of self-worth.


The End




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