Gotta catch ’em all!

Kristine Gill

Few things made my little heart pitter-patter as a child like Pokémon did. It was the most addicting fad growing up. Beanie Babies were great, sure, and Tamagatchis were fun for a while, but nothing compared to Pokémon. It was like crack cocaine for kids.

For those of you who don’t remember or understand Pokémon, allow me to explain. Pokémon is Japanese for “pocket monster,” which roughly translates to “expensive trading hobby” in our parent’s language. Around fourth grade, my sister and I fell in love with Pikachu and Bulbasaur. Two years and at least a couple hundred dollars later, we were a dozen holographic cards from the entire base set, which included 150 monsters and dozens of energy and trainer cards. It was disgusting.

It started with one card. A kid in my sister’s class gave her a Japanese trainer card. It was worthless, except it was written in a language none of us understood. We made our first trade with that card for two more. Our neighbor, Jason, began trading around the same time. He gave us cards he had more than one of, and we slowly built our army. Then we started trading. Once we understood the basics and could gauge the value of any card, our neighbor saw us as a threat and stopped giving us freebies. We had become his trading equal and taken the plunge into our neighborhood Pokémon trading market.

There were days that first summer, when the wind blew a certain way, or the sun rose at the right angle, that kids in Mentor, Ohio, went on a spree. My sister, Katie, and I would grab our collection, which had grown to fill a large three-ring binder, and hit the streets. We made stops at four or five neighbor’s houses and talked our sweet talk with 7-year-olds, 9-year-olds and 12-year-olds.

“I think you want this Ivysaur. You really don’t need your Clefable…or that rare energy, for that matter,” we’d say. “Look into my eyes. You’re getting sleepy. Hand me the card…”

We were great. We convinced our mother to substitute booster packs of cards as compensation for doctor’s visits and chores. We itched to trade and spent downtime poring over our collection.

When the fad spread to Nintendo, we bought the gold version of the game for our GameBoy, and every time we battled with our card decks, hardcore grudges resulted. We protected our binder with our lives and insisted on saving cards we had more than one of for the day when holographic Ninetails would be worth millions. We’re still waiting for that day…

We made our dad take us to one of the Pokémon movies TWICE so he could take a two-hour nap, and so we could collect each of the special edition cards that came with our tickets. We didn’t even like the movies, but there was no question that we needed the cards.

There’s one trade I will never forget. A kid moved onto our street who was a few years younger than us. We were delighted when we realized he had a collection and wanted to trade. He had no idea how good we were. We convinced him to give us a Japanese trainer for a common energy card as we eyed his heart monitor and considered our age difference. This kid was making a horrible move, but we took the card. From a kid, A KID! With a heart monitor.

And that’s where I draw the line. I don’t think we’ve made a trade since.

Kristine Gill is a junior newspaper journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected] if you want to trade.