Outrageous. Inappropriate. And Downright Hilarious: The Millennial’s First Ever E-Mail Address
‘SugarCandy27‘ I typed triumphantly into Hotmail, thus securing my very first e-mail address. “I remember thinking how cool you were, in that moment” said one of my best friends, years later, as we recalled the very lunch break in which we furtively opened our shiny new mailboxes.
It was the year 2000. I was 13-years-old and had thought long and hard about my perfect (and now sadly defunct) first e-mail address. I was at an all-girls Catholic boarding school – so there was ample time to ponder upon such matters. Everyone was creating their own electronic spaces and this mind-blowing situation needed to be handled carefully. My first e-mail address needed to relay the most important things about me: my apparent sweetness (sugar); my obsession with all things American (candy); and the coolest number I could possibly think of (er, 27.) It was also faintly porny, which was mandatory at the time, and it neatly encapsulated my self, on the cusp of three exciting horizons: a long adolescence, a new millennium and now, an Internet Persona.
For millennials like me, the creation of your e-mail moniker (first via Hotmail and, when 2004 came around, via the ineffably cooler Gmail) was an precedented opportunity to self-brand. Now, of course, there are dozens of mediums through which you may curate your ‘personal brand‘, but back then this was revelatory. You need not be known by your birth name, but by any name you fancied. No longer were conversations limited to paper-planes or pagers. Instead of writing to boys – their letters littered with spelling mistakes which being the
anal cow diligent student that I was, I would send back, folded into my own missive, with the spelling mistakes neatly circled in red pen – I could e-mail them, instead. I could spend hours crafting the perfect e-mail, awaiting a saucy little riposte with exquisite anticipation. No excitement has come close to rivalling what I felt when a new reply landed in my inbox.
The e-mail proved to be a winning formula. Here we are, 16 years on, still beholden to it – though the content is depressingly quotidian in comparison to such frivolity. But it was only during a meandering conversation that started with one person and ended via Whatsapp with a further fifty, that I discovered the untapped brilliance of the e-mail and namely, the millennial’s first ever e-mail address. In short? They were all absolutely MAD. What were we thinking?
The overarching theme is that of naughtiness. The desire to be sexily knowing, at the grand old age of 13, was paramount. One colleague renamed herself ‘Kitty’ in her e-mail address, because she thought that Kitty sounded like someone saucy, who might do saucy things. Other monikers that proved popular included ‘randy’, ‘horny’, ‘slut’ and ‘hot.’ A favoured suffix was ’69’ – as adopted by my very own boyfriend – to denote, of course, an ‘expert’ knowledge of the opaque art. One friend’s little brother was email@example.com (a personal favourite), whilst my old flatmate was firstname.lastname@example.org – because she loved pink and well, she was hot, right? A super hot… 13-year-old.
E-mail quickly became the bubbling reservoir of sequestered sexuality. My entire convent was powered by this excitable new energy, roaring through the computer cables. The opportunities were limitless – not only could you write in the body of the text, you could attach things. Lots of things! I remember receiving a Powerpoint presentation via e-mail, from a boy who gave me (and four other girls) glandular fever. Over the four page presentation, he described our perfect Valentine’s day. ‘First I’m gonna take you out’, said the first slide, with a formal picture of a suited man and a natty little lady. ‘Then we gonna eat some food’ said the second, accompanied by a steak and a glass of wine, purloined from Clip Art. ‘Then I’m gonna take you home and do other stuff’ said the third, lyrically. The fourth, somewhat bafflingly I recall, ended with just a picture of the Eiffel Tower. I’m not sure if we were meant to be in Paris – he didn’t clarify – or if he just got the architecture confused. Either way, I was struck dumb by the heady romanticism of it all and promptly printed it off and stuck it into my scrapbook. I still have that scrapbook. It’s phenomenal.
Some, however, eschewed the saucy-teen route and went for the absurd, such as thecowgoesmoo, or saz_the_space_alien. Another colleague, too cool for the pseudo sexiness of her peers, opted for email@example.com. It proved to be difficult to shake, even in later years. Her dad had it engraved on her iPod for her 18th birthday, which caused a massive tantrum. “I’M NOT FUNKY BIATCH ANYMORE, DAD” she cried, in agony. My poll reveals that ‘funky’ and ‘biatch’ were two tremendously popular choices of the time. No-one was a ‘bitch’ back then; we were all biatches, pronounced bee-hatch. I’m pretty sure any teenage girl now, on being told this, would hang her head in shame at the lameness of the generation previous.
Some, I have found, were downright random. One friend, clearly, addled by choice and a love of all things sweet, created firstname.lastname@example.org. Ever seen purple candy floss? I call that wishful thinking. Further trawling revealed Barbie_is_a_slut1988@hotmail.com – at least the number had relevance, given that she was born in 1988. My friend and fellow Style columnist Dolly, “went through some dreadful ones”, including email@example.com. “That doesn’t strictly make sense” I told her, nervously. (To insult someone’s first ever e-mail address is to insut the tremulous teen that they once were). “I wanted to be an actress and I took myself very, very seriously” she said, sadly. “But why thespian me?” I said. “Why not something that actually made sense, like firstname.lastname@example.org?” “Oh”, she replied, informatively, “That was already taken. You had to be imaginative, Pandora” she told me with feeling – as if she wasn’t talking to FKA sugarcandy27.
I also came across a few Groovy Chicks, an e-mail address I’m surprised I didn’t possess myself, given how obsessed I was with Bang on the Door cartoons. I even used to make up my own, laminate them, and send them to Bang on the Door. They never wrote to me or even sent them back, which was disheartening, given the extra effort undertaken to laminate them. Like Groovy Chick, I consider lamination a relic of a bygone era. (I hope laminating comes back soon. It takes real skill. Just ask my father.) A few threw total caution to the wind – in that if your parents found out, you’d be strongly reprimanded and the account immediately dissolved – with email@example.com. Said Candy C*nt was just 12-years-old, which is appalling and humourous in equal measures knowing now, as we do, the dangers of the internet.
Many of these e-mail addresses are admittedly misguided, but they’re also reminiscent of a very specific time – before we knew how dangerous the internet really was, particularly the young and the vulnerable. Firewalls were few and far between. There was no bulwark to us logging on to chat rooms and wooing strangers with our alluring e-mail addresses. Much as I spent many a long evening with roommates, prank-calling boys I knew (or knew merely by association) with my faux-Burberry-covered Nokia 3310 – either pretending to be a Powerpuff girl, or simply playing Enrique Iglesias’s Hero down the phone, repeatedly, for reasons we neither knew at the time nor know now – I spent hours in chatrooms, being pointless and provocative and carefree.
Like I said, it was a different age. I’d be horrified if I knew any teenage girls with e-mail address or Instagram accounts that sounded anything like ours did, back then. Teenage girls haven’t changed, but the scope of the internet has. It is, as we well know, no longer a safe place. It is no longer the space for a candy c*nt or a randy space alien, to safely exist. It is most likely that it never actually was – and we just didn’t know that yet. But I will always remember firstname.lastname@example.org, with affection. Not only because she taught me that circling someone’s spelling mistakes and sending them back to him was not a permissible dating technique; but because she sounded silly, and spontaneous, and all those things that I was, aged 13, with just two snogs under my belt, setting up my first ever e-mail address in the school library.comments powered by Disqus