It was late October of 2000, and I was the poster child of what an awkward 11 year old should look like; gap in front teeth, giant glasses, accidental sideways ponytail because my equilibrium was off-kilter the first 19 years of life, and a Tomogachi named “Reptar” I had attached to a necklace that I took everywhere with me. Pokemon Gold and Silver had just come out, and after drooling over articles in the latest Nintendo Power, I begged and pleaded with my parents to let me buy Silver, because man-oh-man that Lugia just looked so frickin’ awesome.
After my mother scolded me for saying “frickin’”, she said they were not going to let me get Pokemon Silver, because I already had Red as well as Yellow. “What do you need ANOTHER pokey-mans game for? You’ve already caught them all, haven’t you?” True, I spent countless hours catching them all, and then trading them all with my cousin Alex, but that damn Professor Oak had lied to me. I rolled on the ground with frustration, cursing Professor Oak and his gypsy ways. My mother didn’t know who Professor Oak was. “Stop talking to strangers,” she replied, “Or you’re grounded!”
I spent the next few days in what was the most pathetic wallow of all wallows the world had known, until one day after sulking off the school bus, I saw something odd in the grass near my bus stop. I cautiously approached the object, which appeared to be a gameboy cartridge. I narrowed my eyes suspiciously, as I was the only kid who got off the bus. I bent to pick up the game, when to my sheer and utter shock I realized it was- wait for it- POKEMON SILVER. My eyes widened and I screamed because my body had so many conflicting emotions, it didn’t know what else to do. Running all the way home, I burst through the front door, nearly peeing my pants with excitement as I shouted,
My mother didn’t even bat an eye; she was no stranger to outbursts of unintelligible jabber (my sister was 15). Hands on her hips, she said, “No you may not. What if it was you who lost your pokey-mans game? Wouldn’t you want it back?”
Guilt stabbed at me. Once again, she was right. “But mommmmmm,” My head flopping to the side, preparing for full-fledged whining. “You don’t understand, the universe wants me to have this game!”
“You will go to the bus stop tomorrow, and wait to see if anyone asks you about the pokey-mans. And if they do, you will give it back.”
I gave her the stink eye. She wasn’t having any of it. “Don’t you make that face at me; I taught you how to do that. ”
So I waited and stood nervously, listening to the other kids chatter, dreading the moment someone mentioned losing their Pokemon Silver, but not a word of it was spoken. At school, I swore Alicia, one of my best friends, to secrecy. “Don’t tell a SOUL,” I whispered to her, “but you will not believe what I found on the ground yesterday.”
“A bajillion dollars.” She promptly guessed.
“Better!” I giggled with excitement. “Pokemon Silver!”
Her eyes widened. “Dude that’s so cool! The last thing I found on the ground was dog poop.”
“My mom’s making me wait to see if someone at the bus stop mentions losing their copy, though. She also says I’m grounded if I talk to strangers again.”
“I guess that’s the right thing to do…also the not talking to strangers thing.”
For three whole days, I listened carefully at the bus stop in the morning, on the bus to and from school, and even walking home if other kids got off the bus, too. No one had breathed a word of missing the game, or even a friend who came over who was missing theirs. Finally, my mother caved. “Alright, you can keep it.” She barely had a chance to finish that sentence before I was sprinting off to my room to find my Game Boy (which, by the way, was a sweet see-through lime green Game Boy pocket).
And the rest is history. I trained the roughest and toughest team Johto and Kanto had ever seen, put a stop to Team Rocket’s evil ways, and totally schooled my rival. I beat the old Pokemon Master (who, interestingly enough, had a similar final team to my Pokemon Red character’s team. Made it bittersweet, in a way.) and took my rightful place as the new champion.
I have so many good childhood memories thanks to Pokemon, and this strange yet totally awesome instance is a huge part of it. So to whoever it was who lost their Pokemon Silver game all those years ago, I’m sorry I never found you, but I hope you can find comfort in the fact that it went to a good home. Maybe I’ll try to repeat this cycle by strategically leaving a Pokemon Soul Silver cartridge around a school somewhere, in hopes of giving someone in the next generation a chance to have as good of a memory as I have.