Every Friday, Australia's fast-growing Twitter community eagerly anticipates a visit from a scaled, shingleback lizard, yearning for a drop of Cooper's pale ale.
It's like Santa Claus on Christmas, except the lizard pops up on Twitter every Friday, and the only gift it brings is the knowledge that another long work week has reached its end.
"I can't remember the place where I got the pic in the first place... I can confirm that I did not take the picture of the thirsty fella," the Friday Lizard's keeper and original tweeter, Alex McClintock, told BuzzFeed News.
"I was just pretty thirsty on a Friday, so I think I tweeted the pic, which I must have seen somewhere on the net, and named the guy Friday Lizard."
BuzzFeed News tracked the origins of the lizard picture to a 2013 Reddit thread discussing the heat. "It's so hot Down Under even the lizards need an ice cold beer," reads the caption.
Reddit user misplacedcanuck took the original photo in 2003 during a trip to the South Australian outback. "I didn't even know it was made into a meme until you brought it to my attention," they said.
McClintock says he began tweeting the Friday Lizard semi-regularly in 2014. At first it only struck a chord with a small circle of Twitter users.
The growth of the meme has former prime minister Tony Abbott to thank (as do many Australian memes from the last few years).
In early February 2015, the then-prime minister was photographed wearing a particularly wild pair of sunglasses. The image became an iconic part of Australia's dank political discourse for the next year.
It was then that Tal Waterhouse, a social media editor from Perth, Photoshopped the glasses onto the lizard.
From there, McClintock and Waterhouse worked together – at first once a month, then gradually more often – to spice up the Friday Lizard's aesthetic, making it more topical and more worldly.
"It was initially a gag I'd done and then revisited a couple of weeks later to add an onion to," Waterhouse told BuzzFeed News. "I'd occasionally chip in with a contribution if there was something particularly relevant I thought would get a laugh, but it was very open to contributions from Lizard fans."
Soon, Australia had a Friday Lizard featuring the infamous onion Tony Abbott chomped into, as well as a lizard embellished with Woolworths' ill-fated "fresh in our memories" Anzac Day advertising campaign.
The Friday Lizard began adopting other relevant memes from the week, and became a barometer of the week's biggest Australian memes (there's a timeline of Friday Lizard memes here).
As the Friday Lizard's reputation grew, so too did its retweets and likes. What was once a niche meme shared by a few people became something that picked up dozens, and eventually hundreds, of retweets.
The Friday Lizard also became a multimedia spectacle – see Waterhouse's most recent masterpiece taking on the famous Planet Earth 2 footage of an iguana escaping a swarm of snakes.
Soon, the Friday Lizard wasn't just for Australia. A July tweet from McClintock, which featured the original Friday Lizard with the caption "if you see this image you have been visited by the Friday lizard, a sick Friday will come to you but ONLY if you RT," picked up more than 3,000 retweets.
"There are a few dedicated international fans who share the lizard each week," said McClintock. "Maybe they like the excuse to have a cheeky bev?"
For Waterhouse, the Friday Lizard has never been about growth. "People like the lizard and share it if they do," he said. "At it's core though it's just some simple fun amongst wonderful people on Twitter."
So while 2016 may be hurtling into a dumpster fire of hatred, at least know that in 2017, things are only looking up for the Friday Lizard.
"People need a drink more than ever these days," said McClintock. "If they need to look at a picture of a blue tongue lizard drinking a Cooper's pale ale before they crack into God's own delicious amber nectar, then who am I to argue."
Brad Esposito is a news reporter for BuzzFeed and is based in Sydney, Australia.
Contact Brad Esposito at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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