Welcome to 2001, where Volcom belts were in vogue and the best way of chatting up your crush was acquiring their email and sending them a desperately timed nudge on MSN Messenger. These were simpler times. 

It’s Saturday morning and Ben signs into MSN with his resume-destroying email address: “[email protected]”. He changes his personalised message to“I’MMM Onnne SteeeepPPpp CloseeerRrRrr to Tha EdddgeEEeE, IM bout to BREAK :P”. Edgier than a dodecahedron shaped-dildo. 

Ben sits on his family computer and sees his crush log on, “[email protected]” aka “Sarzzzzy  😛 : P xoxo”. In Ben’s circles, Sarz was a trio of the finest dips and his Turkish bread was ready. If he was going to be the man, he would need to invite her to his dinner dance. 

Ben stares at her green icon for 10 minutes and mentally battles his urge to initiate conversation. Nah, chill Ben, switch your status to “offline” and then “online” 6 times in rapid succession to attract her attention.

Alas, she doesn’t take the bait, and Ben snaps under the pressure of excessive-wank angst and sends the first message: “Hi lol x”. Move over Santana, this is smooth. 

It’s been 1 minute and 42 seconds and Sarz hasn’t responded. In the interest of playing it cool, he nudges. The chat window shakes like the foundations of his own pick-up artistry. FINALLY, “Sarz is typing a message…” OK, Ben is getting anxious, she has been “typing a message” for about 2 minutes and 53 seconds.

For the love of teenage desperation, just hit enter girl! Suddenly, it goes blank. Sarz is no longer typing a message. Nookie_Bizkit69’s hopes are as depleted as the follicles on Fred Durst’s scalp.

Poor Ben spends the next 5 hours staring at Sarz’s contact which has been set to “away” for the last 4 hours. Day becomes night, and Ben flicks through the sordid filth that makes up his received files folder. A digital Mos Eisley Cantina of adolescent party photos, naughty jpegs and saved chat logs documenting his clumsy foray into the dangerous world of online flirtation. 

It’s now 3am, and Ben is staring at the same list of weirdos that never seem to log off. Contacts he’d never consider initiating contact with, really just filler for his contact list. Which during your high school is a bigger deal than even the girth of your moon-boot Globe skate shoes.

Finally, a message from Sarz on Sunday night, “could you ask Simon if he wants to take me to the dinner dance? He is megs cute hehe”. Fuuuucking Simon? The kid that had to sit in the portable classroom for 15minutes after the bell because of his no-reason-boner?

Ben is devastated but knows that after making the Head of the River rowing team, he still has a shot at turning this romance around. 

Just as Ben tries to initiate the dance of persuasion, his mum storms into the computer room, “log off the internet now, I need to make a phone call!” What an unmitigated disaster. 

Documenting the Human Zoo is thirsty work, so if you enjoyed what you read how about buying Belle a beer, ay?