If you were born in the 1980s, you might remember a certain advert that was shown frequently on kids’ TV when you were just a wee laddie or lassie. The commercial was for a board game called Dream Phone. It featured a bunch of ten year olds gathering round an old-school landline phone and dialling up various boys to find out who had a crush on them.

It seems primitive now, sure, but at the time the idea that you could call different made-up people and they would respond with stuff was pretty damn cool. And I’m a boy. I wanted to call up boys. You know, just to hang out. Go bowling or whatever.

Anyway, I never owned it so never got to hang out with cool boys. But now that I’m a grown-up I can afford whatever toys I like and so I put my middle finger up to the man and bought the re-released modern edition of Dream Phone.

I was hoping for some kind of Snapchat implementation of something else so modern that I don’t understand. Oddly, although it’s an upgrade on a landline, it’s basically just a Nokia 5110. The whole game is done via phone calls and SMS.

Armed with two 3L bottles of Strongbow on a late Tuesday night, I decided to investigate just which boy has a crush on me. I make my first call on … the Dream Phone.

Gamer lounge

Now, Josh❤ gave me a clue that gives me reason to suggest it’s one of the fellas in the Gamer Lounge. The art style is kind of strange. I’ve been told that he doesn’t like pants, whatever that means. So that rules out Mark❤. And probably Brandon❤.

But does that mean Peter❤ is just wearing a green top with nothing on his lower half? OK. So he’s bottomless. On his laptop. Eating a hamburger. Dick dangling in the heat of the sweaty gamer lounge.

And John❤ clearly doesn’t give a fuck either. Bowtie. Apple. Nothing else required. I think he might be the one. I decide to call him up. “He doesn’t like food”, he tells me. The utter gall of the man. Telling me he’s uninterested in food while gorging on an apple, juice dripping down his chin.

So he doesn’t like me? Although … on second thought maybe he means ‘I’m not interested in you, sorry. But I’ll tell you who might be: someone who doesn’t like food.”

Where will I find this clearly unwell man of my dreams? Someone who doesn’t like any kind of food? I decide to try the Mall.

Galleria mall

 Nothing special here. One topless guy, one bottomless guy and two naked dudes enjoying some lunch together. Adam❤ is wolfing down a pizza. Can’t be him. Chris❤ loves burgers so much he has two of them. He’s out.

❤Harry?❤ Hmmm. Ice cream is barely a food. Maybe that’s the only thing he can eat, because of some crippling gastric medical complication? God, I’ve got butterflies. Could this be the man I’ll be spending the rest of my life with?

No. Don’t get ahead of yourself, Joel. Ice cream is a food. You idiot. How could you think this would be so easy? You don’t deserve him. It’s not ❤Harry❤.

Then my eyes flick over to Paul❤. That is a handsome man. No food in sight, and naked as the day he was born, save for a pair of trainers. Damn. That’s a hot look. Shoes and nothing else. From my vantage point I can see how he reacts when I give him a call.

Ring ring. Ring ring. No answer.

I try again. He picks up his phone but does nothing.

Still nothing. I watch him put his phone away.

I can feel my eyes welling up. I just want someone to hold. I’ve got so much love to give.

Town park

Dejected, I head for a place to clear my head. Maybe I’ll call dad. It’s been … what, two years now? Ever since Christmas 2015, I guess. When he drank so much that he … no. Nothing good will come of this. I don’t call dad.

Keep walking through the park. I look up and see yet another naked man, this time equipped with a baseball bat, goggles and a menacing expression. It’s ❤Jason❤. I recognise him from that pub near the train station. The one that mum says not to go to anymore.

I turn to walk back to the mall. ❤Tom❤ steps into my path, holding a huge metal rod. He’s got ❤Tiger❤ with him, his dog.

I’m scared now. The tears are coming back, but I won’t let them break me. How far is it to the beach from here? I could make it, maybe.

❤Tom❤ is walking towards me now, beckoning ❤Tiger❤ as he edges closer. Behind me ❤Jason❤ is swinging the bat around. “I’m going to fucking do you”, he shouts.

Not again, I think. I notice Ben sitting by a tree, eating chips with no clothes on, like usual. He’s got his bike. Damn, this could be my ticket out of here. I run to the bike, sprinting as fast as I can. I’ve never been a fast person but for some reason my legs feel like treacle.

I eventually reach the bike and pick it up by the handlebars.

Arrgrghhhh. I feel a sharp pain in the back of my calf. I turn my head in agony to see ❤Tiger❤, who has sunk his teeth deep into my leg. I try to kick him away, but I can’t get a proper purchase. I try again.

No.

Oucchhh.

It hurts. In desperation I hurl the bike at the base of my legs. It strikes the snarling beast in the skull, and he whimpers and leaps back.

“You shouldn’t have done that”, I hear ❤Tom❤ bellow as I crane my neck to see what’s happening.

Everything goes dark.

Hospital

The next thing I remember is being awoken in a hospital bed, my mum at my side. And who’s that with her? Dad? Why is he here?

God I feel awful. “What happened?” I ask.

Mum just bursts out crying,

Dad tells me they found me in the park in a pool of blood, still conscious but deteriorating fast. He gently explains everything, a concerned expression on his face that I’d never seen before…

It hits me when I hear it. Hard. Apparently I’ll never fully recover and the brain damage will be permanent. If only I’d managed to call the emergency services earlier, I would have been fine.

I remember now.

As I lay there, dying, I tried to dial 999 to get help.

It didn’t work. It was the dream phone. It could only be used to contact attractive teenage boys.

Only one of them answered. It was ❤John❤. “I love you”, he whispered, so softly I could barely hear it. I slipped back into the darkness, smiling.

Dream phone. Buy it now.