Children of the digital age are accustomed by now to the appeal of a throwback photo.
Parents bemoan it, teenagers delight in it, and, in very rare cases — like the inauguration of Joseph R Biden Jr as 46th President of the United States today — the entire internet is overcome by a wave of thirst (and not the kind that can be quenched with a cool glass of water).
America’s newly minted Commander in Chief spoke of the importance of “uniting our nation” in his maiden speech, and unite they did, over a picture of him — smooth-skinned, tousle-haired, aged 26 and holding a brown paper bag, the telltale sign of a recent bottle-o run.
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It’s not the first time the snap has been rolled out, making its debut after the Obama administration — for which Mr Biden served as Vice President — exited the White House to make way for Donald Trump, a moment in time when we all desperately needed to set our eyes on a man whose skin wasn’t the colour of powdered Doritos.
We saw it again after Mr Biden was declared victorious in November’s election, the snug red shirt and charming grin a salve for the unrelenting state of panic many of us had been trapped in since 2016.
And yet today, even after at least four years’ of exposure, the world still swoons, weakened at the knees from the sight of the dashing (then-future) leader of the free world.
“It feels like an appropriate time to bring Young Joe Biden back to the timeline,” one user wrote on Twitter this morning, while another said they thought of him “today and every day”.
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“I would text young Joe Biden at 1:27am,” another user declared.
“A young Joe Biden lookin’ like he’d steal your girl from you with ease,” wrote someone else.
“Oh what we wouldn’t give to be that … brown paper bag, is it? that he’s holding,” Anna Silverman wrote for Grazia earlier this week.
She added that while Mr Biden’s “got nothing on daddy O of politics Barack Obama” (amen), “at 78, Biden is still a snappy dressing silver fox”.
“While we refresh CNN, BBC and our Twitter feeds every 12 seconds, looking at these stud muffin throwbacks seems like the only thing left to do today,” Silverman continued.
“Blame it on lockdown, blame it on post election exhaustion, but 2021 is already fertile ground for getting your thirst on for unattainable crushes. And a young Joe BAE-den is our man of the hour.”
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If the visuals aren’t enough to get your blood running — book a trip to Specsavers while I bestow upon you this nugget of biographical information: a young Mr Biden played football in college at the University of Delaware and was also a lifeguard.
The father-of-four saved people from drowning back in the day and then saved us from a wild orange lunatic, whose appearance at the age of 26 I won’t traumatise you with here.
Call me crazy, but I’d say we’ve come full circle. Thank you, Mr President.