The year was 1997. Your rung on the third-grade social hierarchy correlated to how baggy your jeans were. Mine were Jnco jeans; guess where I was? I wore the same Reese’s Pieces shirt to school everyday because I thought it would help teachers remember my name. Also, I wore it because I had a severe speech impediment that forbade me from speaking R’s correctly.* The first day of class each year–you know, when you have to stand up, say your name, and tell a lie about yourself?–I would have to stand up and say: “My name is Weese Connaw.” Now guess which wung…errr…rung I was on. Indeed, not even my admittedly too-baggy jeans could increase my social standing. So there I was, a young boy named Reese wearing a t-shirt that read Reese and garbed in enough denim to make Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears jealous. Though my classmates may have adamantly argued against it, I was a normal kid. As such, I had normal desires, not the least of which was catching ’em all.
Now, if you are not familiar with Pokemon you might be familiar with Digimon, in which case you eat this cereal, drink this drank, and just bought a pair of Toms…err…Bobs. If the previous sentence applies to you, knock off the knock offs so we can get back on track: Digimon are nothing more than bootleg Pokemon. These are facts.
Forgive the digression, the story will continue. So, like my peers, I sought to collect as many Pokemon cards as I could get my pudgy little fingers on. Not surprisingly, there was a premium put on powerful, holographic Pokemon cards–Charizard and the like. The better cards were a struggle to find, especially for me. My parents did not support my endeavor as unconditionally as I thought appropriate. What resulted was my collection including a slew of Weedles, Digletts, Machops, and Pikachus; basically, all pre-evolution cards, all worthless to me. I wanted me a Blastoise with surging water canons mounted on his back, and I wanted the background to shimmer when I tilted the card to and fro. I could have been somebody if I had that card…
Here is where the story makes its point. There came a day when tragedy struck one of my classmates. His father died. One night, an aneurysm in his father’s brain ruptured; his father never woke up. The next day the boy came to school and, conspicuously and inexplicably now that I think about it, everyone knew what had happened. You would have thought the family and school would have wanted to keep that information a secret, especially from third graders but, lo, we knew. When we were at recess on the playground, another boy happened upon a wayward item, lost in the wood-chips. What was it, you ask? Why it was a holographic Blastoise. Why is that of any consequence to the sobering tragedy I have just recounted? Because the young boy who found the card decided to give that holographic Blastoise to the other young boy who had lost his father. It’s a sweet story, really. You probably think that there will be a twist. You’re right. No, the twist is not that I was the young boy who gave the Blastoise (this story would be far too self-indulgent if that were the case). And no, I was not secretly the young boy who lost his father (though this would certainly be a tale of perspective if that were the case). No, I was the boy who heard this story during lunch and responded, without a hint of jest, with these exact words:
I wish my dad would die so I could have a Blastoise.
That was unforgivable. Yet, since I’ve forgiven myself, I thought it would make a nice story!
*You’ll be happy to know that I have since acquired the elusive ability to speak my R’s correctly.