The Real Eric Rushton
Updated: Jul 2, 2020
Rhys has just texted me asking if I wanna go The Sugarmill. There’re only two problems: The Sugarmill is a nightclub; and Rhys is a dickhead.
I text him “Nah mate” and then put it out of my mind.
I’m lying in bed. Not like being dishonest under my duvet lol, but like looking up at the ceiling and thinking stuff. Thinking what I’m doing with my life. Thinking how I make it better. Thinking how I don’t really know who I am. Thinking who the fuck am I? Thinking I’m no good. Thinking how Sofia once told me I was a brilliant person. Thinking whether she still thinks that. Thinking thinking thinking.
I can’t get outta bed these days. There used to be a time when you couldn’t get me into bed. My mum would say “it’s bed time Eric” and five-year-old me would say, “Shut up Mum, I’m busy enjoying my one and only life.” Then I’d play a few more rounds of Beyblade with my imaginary friend Greg. I only had one Beyblade. I’d spin it into a fruit bowl and watch for 10 seconds as it gradually lost momentum and came to a halt. Then I’d tell Greg it’s pretty rubbish how I only have one Beyblade and no real friends. Then I’d start to cry. Then Greg would make up an excuse and leave.
He’d say he’s got “imaginary-person stuff” to do, and to this day I still don’t believe him.
Admit it Greg: you just didn’t like my chats. It’s fine.
I got chatting to a guy in the library the other day. He was saying that most people’s personalities are a façade they’ve developed to protect them from their True Selves, because they’re afraid their True Selves might mug them off. But he said, “To truly be happy, you’ve got to find that True Self and liberate it.” He was a bit annoying, but then I thought maybe being a fucking weirdo who bothers people in the library when they’re trying to write their blog wasn’t his True Self. So I let him off.
It did get me thinking though.
Maybe this is who I am: a loser who squanders his talents and spends the rest of his life in bed. There’re are worse things to be I suppose. And most people who use their talents have a bit of success and then burnout eventually anyway. For example, Example. What’s he doing now?
I text my mum saying “make me a brew” and then carry on thinking.
The thing that normally drags me out of bed is the thought that if I work hard enough then I can become a professional comedian. I have a recurring fantasy that eventually everything clicks. I record a Netflix special. It’s really funny and clever but also touching and a cheeky reminder of man’s inhumanity to man and the importance of kindness. It goes down a storm. As all the positive reviews are coming in I’ll get my phone out and ring my best mate Joe:
“We did it, Joe. We actually fucking did it!”
“No, Eric,” Joe will say. “You did it.”
And that will be the moment I realise I’m better than Joe.
But even that fantasy isn’t getting me going today. It all seems so far away. I sort of believe in myself, but I want to be happy now, not later. Just because I bring things to the table, it doesn’t mean I’m a waiter*.
Mum texts back saying “I’m in bed, make it yourself x”
Bare annoying. I stay in bed and look at Facebook for a bit. Rhys is having a quality time. There are some pictures of him eating ice-cream with This One. This One is a well nice girl that he has sex with sometimes. I spoke to her once and she was laughing loads and it made me feel all fuzzy inside but also really resentful of Rhys because of how much better his life must be. Why can’t someone like me go for ice-cream with a girl I’m having casual sex with?
The worst part is that Rhys is a proper good guy. He’s funny and caring and sensitive and always there for me when I feel shit. He’s handsome, but modest about it. And he’s wise, so wise. Mate if I was a girl I’d definitely have casual sex with him before going out for an Oreo sundae. But I’m not; I’m a man, and neither of us are gay, and I’m too ugly anyway, and I hate him.
I dunno. I don’t think I like the person I’m becoming, guys. The person I’m becoming is bitter and lonely and desperate and hates anyone else having happiness. What a fucking prick. I hope it isn’t my True Self, or else I’m gonna end up with very few friends very soon.
“Might go Sugarmill actually if you still fancy it,” I text Rhys.
“Nice one. Bus at 9??” He replies, probably wiping lip-stick and chocolate salted caramel from his face.
And if he is, I don’t care mate. Maybe I have been telling myself porky pies under these covers after all. Things can be better if I want; I’ve just gotta get outta my bed and outta my head. Even if the world does make an Example of me, who cares?
It’s 9:13(we’re talking p.m. at this stage of the game) and we get on the bus going into Stoke. It was due at 9:11(p.m.) but if everything always went to plan then life wouldn’t be as interesting. The bus is rowdy. A group of people around my age, maybe a little younger, are banging on the sides and singing loads. I can’t really make out the words, but the subtext is “We’re all gonna get well drunk and probably have sex with each other.”
I’m pleased with my analytical skills, but anxious. More anxious about being anxious later. I feel overly aware of my body when I’m in a nightclub. People will be judging it. And I think Sofia’s gonna be there. I’m semi in-love with her, but I don’t think she likes me in that way, on account of her once saying, “I don’t like you in that way.” And I think she fancies my mate Rhys, on account of her once saying, “I fancy your mate Rhys.”
When we get to Stoke, we decide to have a few pints in Wetherspoon’s before going into The Sugarmill. I’m giving off some pretty stinky vibes it seems, because Rhys says that we can just stay here if I’m not feeling it and that we’ll go another time.
And I’m like, “Nah mate let’s get cracking.”
And he’s like, “If you need to talk that’s fine.”
And I’m like, “What don’t you understand about let’s get cracking?”
No rebuttal from Rhys.
12(a.m.) and we’re walking into the club and hopefully my vibes smell a bit better. Everything is so loud and I can’t hear myself think. It’s making it really difficult to narrate this in the present tense. There are 3 floors and the music on the ground floor is like pure joy, and by that I mean it’s unrecognisable to me. I can see Sofia by the bar with a group of her friends. We go over and she hugs both of us. The hug she gives Rhys is considerably longer than the one she gives me. As she was hugging me she gave me a compliment. It was something like “you smell nice”, but because of the loudness of the music it sounded more like “Eric, did you forget to shower?”
She smells nice too – both her body and her vibes. She says let’s do shots and I say fuckkkkkkk yeah, pronouncing all the extra k’s separately. We each have a shot of tequila and I’m massively starting to feel the potential of this night. I wanna start busting some shapes; it’s just a shame I don’t really like the music.
Rhys says he thinks I’ll like the music better upstairs and so me, him, Sofia and her friends make our way up. We enter and instantly the music is amazing. Rock DJ by Robbie Williams is playing and I’m making shapes everywhere, popping polygons like it’s nobody’s business. It’s banger after banger: Sk8r Boy by Avril Lavigne, Put A Donk On It by The Blackout Crew, and then Fit But You Know It by The Streets comes on and I completely lose my poo. It’s absolute bliss, I recognise all of the songs, and for the first time, pure joy. It’s all sweaty but I don’t give a fuck, we’re all just one consciousness, one pulsating mass, brought into this world to surrender ourselves to the higher power of noughties classics. Hollaback Girl by Gwen Stefani comes on and all of my problems are fading away like my ability to finish this simile. I’m too busy grooving. This is me. This is who the fuck I am. My True Self – THIS IS MY TRUE SELF! A high tempo remix of The Real Slim Shady starts blasting out and I don’t think my vibe’s ever been so fucking fragrant. I’m moving so fresh right now and it’s like I somehow know every dance move ever but I’m combining different styles in ways no one’s ever seen before, adding my own personality and verve to it and it’s amazing and the best moment of my life and—
Rhys and Sofia getting off with each other.
I’m absolutely fuming.
Nah I’m aright…
I feel really angry, like I wanna be petty and go ape-shit at Rhys. Punch a wall or something. But also I really thought this story was gonna end with me having an epiphany about how good life and dancing is, especially now that Kickstarts by Example is playing. I should be riffing some sort of life lesson at this point; how none of it matters, how all of it matters. Something like that anyway. And this Example song would be like a callback. Then I’d share it on Facebook and people would laugh and say I’m funny and wise and I’d think yeah I am funny and wise.
But that doesn’t feel right this time. And I’m just stood here thinking of my bed. I wanna go home.
My mind’s being pulled in all sorts of directions.
Fuck it. I head for the exit, and just as I’m about to punch the wall, a hand grabs me. I look up and I can’t believe it.
“Yes, Eric,” he says. “It’s me, Greg. Your imaginary friend that you mentioned earlier.”
“Thanks for recapping who you are. What are you doing here?”
“There are multiple ways this story can end, Eric,” he says. “You could throw a tantrum, punch a wall, storm out, express to the world how difficult it is being Eric Rushton. But that’s an easy ending. It’s bitter. It’s hollow. You could go back to bed, give up on life, scroll through Facebook all day, act like a failure because then people might feel sorry for you. Or you could get back on that dance floor and shake your little booty. Pretend you’ve figured out who you are and life’s okay now. But none of this is you. These are all characters. Eric Who Likes To Be Sad. Eric Who Gets Mad At Girls. Eric Who Likes Cheeky Noughties References. Eric The Comedian. Eric The Failure. Eric Who’s Doing Okay Now. It’s all fake. What about the Eric typing these words right now? What are his motives? Coming up with these narratives every few weeks that justify how he wants to feel, how he wants to act. Posting the same shite over and over again – more puns, more obscure celebrity references, more moral lessons that he doesn’t believe in. Trying to convince himself to be happy. But life isn’t about being happy or sad; being a good friend or a bad friend; being successful or a loser; trying or not trying. It’s about not being afraid of who you are. The reason you hate looking in the mirror so much isn’t because you think you’re ugly, it’s because you’re scared there’s nothing there. I’m that part of you that was there to say it’s okay; it’s okay not to know. It’s not your fault. I wanted you to be comfortable with yourself, but you pushed me away. You decided to play a role instead. You decided to be lonely. And loneliness is nothing to do with needing someone else. You’re lonely because you gave up on yourself. But it’s not too late. You’re still young. Let all these character’s fade away. See what’s left. But one thing’s for sure – the answer isn’t gonna come at the end of a blog.”
I stare at him, dumbfounded.
“Anyway,” he says, “that’s about it.”
He fades away into nothingness.
“Cya x” I say.
*If that joke was a goal: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vAOUgmRXsc
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