Bridge Over Troubled Water
Updated: Jul 2, 2020
As I ate my English breakfast and sipped on my English breakfast tea, I attempted to think of a metaphor or an analogy to describe to my friend Joe the acute sense of loneliness I was feeling.
“You know, it’s funny Joe, the English breakfast is like a relationship: at the start, it’s the best thing in the world. There’s so much to explore, and every moment is filled with pleasure. All your hopes seem within reach, and all your fears about life evaporate. It’s complete bliss. But the further you go on, the less satisfied you become. Things start to run out. You’re panic-stricken as you realise that soon it’s gonna be over, and all that you’ll be left with is a sickness in your stomach and a heart that’s damaged beyond repair.”
I was pleased with this, and midway through saying it I got really excited, causing a big fuck off piece of bacon to fly off my fork and onto the floor. But then I remembered that I’ve never actually been in a relationship. I tried again.
“You know, it’s funny Joe, the English breakfast is like a relationship: you ask for one and the person behind the counter refuses and says they just see you more as a friend.”
Joe didn’t really know how to react to either of these analogies. He looked at his own food for a second with a kind of mournful expression, and then he told me the café we were in was where Good Will Hunting was written, but I think he was lying because he’s also lonely, and sometimes having something to contribute to a conversation can make you feel less lonely for a bit.
Despite him talking bollocks, I was glad Joe was with me. I wanted to hang out because I was feeling down about a girl I used to be in love with. All my other friends were round her house eating pancakes, and even though there’s not much bitterness between us anymore, she hadn’t invited me to her stupid pancake party for pricks. So instead Joe and I went to a Café to discuss loneliness and our favourite “Bradley Walsh Loses It” videos.
There’s no prospect of romantic success in my life at the moment, and I feel so bad about my physical appearance that I just want to curl up into a lonely ball of melancholy and never look into a mirror again. I’ve recently changed the bio on my Tinder to “has access to nutrition” in the hope of attracting desperate NHS staff away from food banks. After reading so much about the public sector pay cap, my sexy nurse fantasy now involves me lying on a bed in an underfunded hospital, surrounded by screaming patients; she comes in to give me my undercooked meal, looks at me with tears in her eyes, and with a desperation in her voice says, “can I have a bit?”
I feel like I’m not good enough to attract anybody else, and It’s difficult to escape a culture that says in order to be happy you need to be in a relationship. At the same time, we have such narrow ideals of beauty, which are perpetuated by how people try to present themselves on social media. Instagram in particular makes me feel inadequate. It’s not even just pictures of attractive people – I’ll see a picture of a particularly enticing risotto and think, “god damn I’m ugly.”
All these romantic considerations are such a strain mentally: there’s constantly a voice in my head that’s saying, “you’re useless, you’re pathetic, you’re ugly, the world’s longest suspension bridge is the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge in Japan, spanning an incredible 1991 metres.”
My inner demons are extremely knowledgeable about bridges.
Dark thoughts make sleeping very challenging. They’re so overwhelming, it’s like trying to sleep when you can hear your parents having sex – even though it’s unbearable, and massively detrimental to your state of mind, you can’t just shut it out.
One time last year I stayed up all night having an anxiety attack because I was worried I’d accused a girl I fancied of being racist. She told an anecdote and at one point she called a French person a “fucking croissant” – and then looked at me like I was supposed to laugh. I didn’t know how to react. I felt sick. It was as if everyone was watching me; it was like on Live at the Apollo where they cut to a person laughing so you know what laughing looks like, but instead of laughing everybody goes silent and the person stands up and shouts, “RACIST.”
Calling her out on it ruined the conversation, and all I could think about in bed was how I didn’t even care if she was racist because I loved her so much and Brexit Britain would be the perfect place for our relationship and her views to flourish anyway. We wouldn’t need trade deals, because we’d have each other, and despite her prejudices, we’d spend all day French kissing like it’s nobody’s business. And believe me, it would be nobody’s business. What a sordid entrepreneurial venture that would be.
Trying to convey all my forlorn thoughts to Joe was draining me, and I stared into my tea for a while. I looked up and realised the seat opposite me was completely empty.
What the Fukushima?
I’d been hallucinating Joe the whole time. I was at the Café alone. Joe must’ve gone to the pancake party for pricks too.
As I realised this, the room started spinning. Panicking, I got up off my chair, and suddenly it was as though the walls were closing in on me. My inner demons began to bombard me with a mental blitzkrieg of dark thoughts.
“Kill yourself! Kill yourself!” They started screaming.
“No! Go away! You’re not even real. You’re just thoughts. Leave me alone,” I begged them, as I sunk to the greasy floor.
“Kill yourself! Kill yourself” They raged on. “Go on, you ugly prick, it would be so fucking easy.”
“You’re just thoughts. You’re not real. You’re just thoughts.”
“Kill yourself! Kill yourself!”
“Go away! Please! Tell me about bridges – you like bridges. PLEASE JUST TELL ME ABOUT BRIDGES!”
Suddenly everything was complete darkness.
Opening my eyes, I see Joe above me.
“You alright geezer?” He said.
“Joe? What happened?”
“You tell me mate, I went for a piss and then came back and you were on the floor. According to the staff, you started shouting something about Japanese suspension bridges and then slipped on a piece of bacon and knocked yourself out.”
I was overwhelmed with joy: he hadn’t gone to the pancake party for pricks after all.
Immediately the storm of dark thoughts abated. Looking at his face, I realised there was no need for them. I leapt up and as I embraced Joe, I started kissing him uncontrollably on the forehead (like giving it some tongue as well; I was basically getting off with his forehead, it was weird).
“Anyway,” he said, “I was gonna say, the best one by far is when Bradley has to pronounce the name Fanny Chmelar and he can’t stop creasing up. Anne “Frosty Knickers” Hegerty is trying to be serious, but you can tell she’s loving it as well, and eventually everyone just loses it. It’s brilliant.”
“I love you, Joe.”*
Anyway, that’s about it.
*The picture I have in my head at this point is that I’m kissing Joe on the forehead, and then credits roll as “Can’t Smile Without You” by Barry Manilow plays. So think about that if you want. Or not. Just don’t moan about it. It’s my blog. You know what I mean? Dickhead.
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