Poetic Privilege

A liberal translation of Catullus X

A friend caught me at the bar the other night and introduced me to his new woman. She was underdressed but had some good conversation, though a little desperate. We ordered drinks, sat down and started chatting.

‘How’s your job going, Ed?’

Not bad, I said.

‘You made any money yet?’

I replied truthfully that the bossman, not the lackeys, make the good money; especially if they’re so crooked as to sell their own ass sitting down, or at least the next intern’s swollen peach.

‘But you must be making quite a bit now; didn’t you say you were going to buy a car?’

Now, to appear bigger than I am in front of this beautiful woman, I said: Fortune hasn’t been so unkind to me in the private world that I am not able to buy a Mercedes.

(Let alone a car, sometimes I can’t afford a metro ticket and have to squeeze strangers’ asses just to get a ride).

‘Wow, that’s fantastic’, this woman said. ‘Can you give me a ride to the Rasputin night bar tomorrow evening? I’m going with some friends.’

Wait a second – I spat my drink – what I said then: I didn’t mean to say Porsche or Mercedes or whatever it was; but it’s my friend’s: Malik’s, no Matt’s, or someone’s. Basically, it’s like my own, and what do I care, I get around just fine. Anyway, woman, who are you to call out my charm? Don’t you see that this is the privilege of being a poet?

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