tfw: Pokémon Go

tfw is a mini personal essay series I’m try to do on Tuesdays to recount second-person experiences of feelings and experiences we all have. Or maybe I’m the only one who has them?

It’s an app where you put pocket monsters into the world and you catch them and take photos of them and that’s it. “But what is the point of the game?” someone asks. “Can you win?” You don’t know and you don’t know.

The first time you play you catch a Bulbasaur and you think you figured it out. All you do is point, throw, and go: that easy. But, every time you check for Pokés after that, there are never any around. Either that or the app logged you out and keeps giving you an error message, refusing to let you back in. You don’t play for a week.

Then it works again, as you’re walking, and you realize you have to be on the move to catch Pokés. A wild Duduo approaches and you catch it. There is a Mankey hopping around and you catch that. You get home, Pokénlightened, and you keep catching: a Rattata in the bathroom, Exeggcute in the kitchen, Venonat in the bedroom, Diglett on your crotch. You walk your dogs and take photos of Pokés as your dogs take shits. It’s funny and you don’t share the photos with anyone else but your boyfriend but you consider posting them for wider enjoyment but fear you might look like a little pooper.

You have drinks with friends. You make an announcement: “Someone put down a potion on the Pokéstop next door so, if you want to catch some Pokés, now might be a good time.” A few people nod and pull out their phones and other people stare. “Is there a point to the game?” a phoneless person asks. There didn’t seem to be a point, you think, but now the point of it is whatever you want it to be. Get you a Poké life. Marry you a Poké wife. Fight the Poké strife.

You and your boyfriend go for a walk before brunch, to teach him how to Poké. “These are eggs,” you show him. “You incubate them and then they hatch from walking.” You don’t know what happens after that but he doesn’t ask so you look really smart and like you know the most Pokés. You show him that you spin Pokéstops and you get gifts. You show him how to catch a Poké. “It’s a Bulbamesh,” you tell him. “I think that’s a Ivysaur,” he tells you. Definitely Bulbamesh.

You have friends over and you and your boyfriend teach them all how to Poké. You giggle as one doesn’t use the VR system to catch a Pidgey. You teach people how to use an incense and that, in your aPokément, Paras are everywhere. Your boyfriend and you lead a night tour through the neighborhood with friends to catch Pokémon. Other people are out drunk and, you, are catching Pokés. You catch a Fearow that is CP 250 and no one else knows what that means but your boyfriend cheers you on because he knows what that means. Then he catches a 345 Ponyta and you get mad that that equine fire creature did not come to you.

Life goes on and you continue your Poké life. Yes, the app repeatedly knocks you out and freezes, taking with it high level Pokés and excellent photos. You give it a pass. You refuse to get angry despite it making you very angry at points. You refuse to delete the app not because everyone is doing it but because you have to figure it out. You have to hatch those eggs. You have to catch what you can. You have to crash your battery life into the ground and use the app while on your bike and put yourself into hazardous situations because that is what the Pokés demand of you and you must appease them.

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