…it has been 3587327502 days since your last visit. That’s right. Those words can only mean one thing…
If there has been one constant throughout my entire life it would be my weakness for money-making schemes. ‘What, you mean if I do this relatively, some might say deceptively, simple thing for an extended period of time I’ll never have to work again? Sign me up!’ I was (am?) a sucker. One such scheme was known as Treeloot.
Take a trip with me back to the late-90s internet. It was a far different place from what you see today. Back then, we had to connect to the internet by dialing a phone number! And once we got there, it was slower than your grandma trying to understand Facebook. And Facebook didn’t exist either. Instead of Facebook we had, well, nothing. Geocities was a viable web host. There was no Google. We had countless search engines. We had search engines for search engines. And they all sucked! Get off my lawn!
But I digress. Back in the late-90s there was a wonderful website known as Treeloot that promised to make me and my friend rich. It had a simple premise: click the money tree to find the money. There were real cash rewards hidden in the tree and all you had to do was keep clicking. It was a sure thing!
My friend and I would sit next to each other in front of his computer for hours clicking on that tree. Sometimes we could take shifts while the other played Playstation. We would have sleepovers where we barely saw one another. We were determined to win.
Treeloot even had phone recordings of winners. One in particular was of a fairly cocky guy telling the Treeloot woman that not only did he win, he had just won last week as well. If this fool could do it, so could we. We wanted the Treeloot lady to call us and talk to us about how much we had won.
You are probably thinking at this point that Treeloot was just some scam. You would be half right. Treeloot did give away real money, except it wasn’t as easy as clicking the right spot on your monitor. You had to click the right spot twice, as in, click the exact pixel and then another exact pixel, in the proper order. Yeah, a little more challenging. In between each click you would be brought to a page featuring a monkey telling you that that was the wrong spot. He was overly friendly, often urging you to continue your clicking, and sometimes rewarding you with coveted BananaBucks (which despite their name were neither bananas nor currency). How else could you get BananaBucks? By clicking on ads that were plastered all around the site. Ah yes, it all becomes clear now. Treeloot was just a giant ad page that people like ourselves would hang around at for hours at a time in hopes of making a few dollars, which we never did.
And if that was the end of the story, well, there would be no need to tell it. Of course, that isn’t the end. Oh yes, there is more.
You see, not only did Treeloot flaunt the hope of cold hard cash in the face of its viewers, but also a stuffed Treeloot monkey toy that could be won by beating a boxing mini-game. Yes, a game within a game. Clever girl…
To activate the mini-game you had to click 300 times on the tree. This would bring you to a 60 second boxing game in which you must defeat the boxing monkey with your own pair of disembodied gloves. If you did, you would be rewarded with a plush Treeloot monkey doll. And dammit, if my friend and I couldn’t have money, we were going to have ourselves a monkey!
Well, surprise surprise, the boxing mini-game was insanely hard. Almost impossibly hard. Opportunity for practice was minimal because the game only came up every 300 clicks. How could it be beaten? It seemed hopeless. At least until, after days and weeks of wondering, we realized we could just hit the Back button on the browser to reload the game. We were back in business!
There we sat, trading off every 60 seconds, trying to beat the crap out of a cartoon boxing monkey. Hours we sat there, clicking the mouse as fast we could as the little monkey blinked around the screen. He was so fast! Too fast? Slowly but surely his life bar would go down and down as our skill increased, every game approach zero but never quite getting there.
Until it did. There I was, having the game of my life until ultimately my time ran out. I was preparing to trade seats with my friend. I had lost. Or so I thought. ‘Congratulations!’ it said, displaying a picture of the toy monkey and directions for delivery. We had won.
We freaked out. We screamed like little girls and danced around the room in celebration like we had just won a million dollars. My friend’s step-dad even came downstairs looking excited, probably thinking we had won a significant amount of cash.
“What’s going on?” he asked hopefully.
“We just won the monkey!” we shouted, pointing at the computer screen.
“The… what?” he said, looking quite confused.
“There is this game… and you box… and there is this monkey…” we rattled between breaths, “And you only have 60 seconds… and we thought we lost… but then we didn’t…. and… and… MONKEY!!!”
I’ve never seen a grown man so disappointed. He went back upstairs.
My hands shook as I typed in the mailing address. It was amazing. All we had to do now was wait for it to come. We talked about how we would share time with the monkey. One week I would get it, the other week my friend would. It was going to be awesome.
Six weeks later it hadn’t arrived, which was fine, because it was six to eight weeks.. It didn’t come the week after either. During the eighth week of waiting I became worried, but kept my hopes up. A few more weeks went by and I began to lose hope. Was it all for not? Had I typed in my address wrong? Did they know we were reloading the game over and over? Was there never any monkey to be delivered at all? Was it all a lie!?
Now, ten years later, I am starting to suspect that the monkey will never show up. Dang.