Joyce, on hearing that I hail from Ireland, said she had many, many moons ago stumbled upon a village in the south of my homeland.
Enid, it was called.
I assured her I hadn't heard of it; she was equally certain she'd been there.
It must, I replied, be one of those tiny backroad corners that even locals hadn't heard of; Joyce remembered it as a bustling, lively place in which she'd found plenty to see as a tourist.
I said that Enid was a lovely name for a place, but I wasn't familiar with it at all.
After much insistence on both our parts, Joyce agreed to root out her fond old mementos of the trip and show them the next time she saw me at work. Away she went, secure in the knowledge that she'd been to an Irish village I hadn't.
I was fairly curious too, about Enid, and what sort of a green, sheep-run hamlet it might be that I hadn't even heard of, with all my years growing up in Ireland.
Spouse, who is not from Ireland or indeed anywhere nearby, had another notion altogether when he saw me researching in vain the seemingly fictional town of Enid:
It might be Ennis, he concluded. She might have meant Ennis.
I wasn't too sure about that, and I decided it was a bit of a stretch. The old lady had seemed so determined.
Maybe Enid was real. Maybe she'd been there after all. Who was to say that just because I couldn't find a shred of evidence of it, and because it didn't register on any map I had ever seen, that it wasn't a brambly, bubbling little nook in a shady corner of Ireland?
The more detective work I did, the more real Enid became to me.
I even bestowed a village slogan on it:
Enid: Visit Us. We're Beyond Maps.
I put in a hearty publican and a postman, an aging church caretaker, a couple of curtain-twitching neighbours, a school that needed a few repairs, some farmyards and cowsheds and silent, crumbling graveyards and tiny shops with bicycles propped up outside and sheepdogs asleep in the noonday sun under the bicycles. The wind smelled of wet hay and blackberries.
Now, that couldn't be anywhere but Enid. I was sure too.
Spouse saw the glazed look in my eye, and he retreated.
Some weeks later, Joyce spotted me at work and waved furiously for me to come over.
She had the proof in hand.
"Oh," she said, her well-worn face full of apology, "it wasn't Enid after all. It was Ennis. Ennis. I feel quite silly now."
With only a remark about Spouse's incredible deductions, and about how I knew Ennis like the back of my hand, I brushed aside Joyce's needless laments; but I was the sorry one.
I think Enid, beyond all maps, would have been a very nice place to see, even once.