I remembered another story this morning.
My parents hated Pokémon so much. They hated Pokémon cards especially and they did not want to buy them for me. Most packs I got were from asking other people for them for holidays, birthdays, or as impromptu pickups at the pharmacy. Getting a new booster pack was always an occasion and I only got one at a time. So it was a big deal to get them and I never ignored an opportunity to request one.
My parents especially detested that I could plead for Pokémon cards, be indulged, and then be unhappy with whatever was inside. This is probably the biggest reason they felt it was a waste of money.
One day my aunt and uncle were at our house and were going to run some errands before returning with lunch for all of us. As a courtesy, they asked me if I wanted anything while they were out. I said Pokémon cards. They exchanged some glances with each other and my parents before my uncle said sure, they’d get me some. I was ecstatic. I bounced around the house waiting for them to get back in anticipation of having a new pack to open. They returned with a pack of… Topps Pokémon cards.
I was visibly, obviously, disappointed. These were not what I wanted. I detested these things, which were “fake cards” to us children. They were worse than nothing. They were an insult to my interest. My aunt and uncle could not know this, they did not really understand what I was asking for and fulfilled the request as intuitively as they could. Unable to hide my unhappiness, I was chastised for not being grateful as my aunt and uncle tried to say the cards they bought me were cool. I remember my uncle, who had never really seen a Pokémon before, taking the cards and thumbing through them and just reading their names at me. “See, Krabby, that’s a good one. Krabby is good.”
I said something like “these are not real Pokémon cards,” which flabbergasted the adults. They are cardboard squares with cartoon characters on them. How is there any question of legitimacy in this context? How can they not be “real”? This is the sort of semantics that made my parents insane. They thought I was mentally ill, gripped by an exploitative fad that turned children into incomprehensible drones.
I often felt patronized by adults when it came to Pokémon, who didn’t “get it.” They had no frame of reference for why certain things were more desirable than others. I disliked being told that Krabby was a good Pokémon card that I should get excited about. I got defensive. I probably complained that they didn’t get it. Always the crybaby, I probably got bleary eyed and emotional. I ended up taking the stack of cards and throwing them down my basement stairs, where my bedroom was located. I’d pick them up later. For now, I just didn’t want to see them anymore.
A little bit later, someone opened the door to go downstairs and saw the cards strewn about. This was a huge scandal. I had to apologize to my aunt and uncle for being ungrateful. I had to apologize to my parents for embarrassing them. My parents then said they would not buy me any more Pokémon cards ever again because “this was how I treat them.” They told me never to ask for them again. I was angry and upset by this, but my parents almost never bought me Pokémon cards anyway.
But true to their word, my parents never bought my Pokémon cards again and any time I even hinted at it they told me to not even ask. If only I’d kept my cool - I could have continued to get like 2 packs a year on my birthday and Christmas. Pokémon was too emotional for me. To this day, I hate Topps and other “off-brand” Pokémon cards.