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Cars and Girls

Updated: Nov 17, 2022

I met her at a writing event on a Sunday morning. She wore belly tops that didn’t suit her, but making fun of them would make me feel like I was insulting her entire character. Her teeth annoyed me, once I noticed that I couldn’t take my eyes off of them. I watched her teeth as she told her stories.

She stank of incense candles and other commodities that can be lit on fire. She had cigarette tips all over the table in front of her, they stuck out like sore thumbs. She tried to open her phone but the buttons didn’t recognise her fingerprints. She had black marks on the tips of her fingers from her lighter that had a smiley face pattern. She fumbled with the phone between her hands. It felt refreshing seeing someone else shake so much. I wasn’t the only person under fifty that can’t stay still.

We weren’t exactly having an exceptional conversation. We weren’t even talking about writing anymore. She was complaining about her banger of a car that cost her the same amount each month as cigarettes. I tried to do a quick sum in my head but failed to do so. I didn’t know where she lived and I didn’t know where she worked, but that’s a lot of cigarettes and a lot of cigarette tips. A man that claimed to be a friend of Paul McCartney’s sat beside us. I found him bossy and annoying, but I can see why Paul would like him.

In the heat of the morning, she recited four of her poems and drank three litres of sparkling water. An elderly man then stood up and read a piece that was scarily close to the situation I was then experiencing. That stuck with me more than all four of her poems, but the man that read that story was quite timid. I don’t know if this means all creatives distinguish each other by their appearance or if only I do.

She told me the story of her car accident three years ago. Her mother was her provisional driver. She had the same licence as I had, but radiated such freedom that I envied. I soon realised that driving licences do not necessarily define freedom. That day I had driven to the event with one of Ireland’s most admired actresses and a gynaecologist.

I left the event with two local women who decided to head to Gorey for the day. One of them tried to tell me who Paul McCartney was. That whole day I did not perform a single piece, despite having three notebooks full of my own stories and two famous poetry anthologies in my bag. I don’t know if I was intimidated or overwhelmed. I had never caused an impact on anyone’s life in such a short amount of time like these people had with me.

One writer stood up and revealed the difference between poetry and prose. He believed with prose the speaker could take the shape of anyone or anything, whereas with poetry the words come directly from the poet. My poetry has never been the same since, but I am not a poet. My words do not correctly come from me. I still don’t have an impact, I still have to mould myself into the shape of someone or something else.

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