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I, like a lot of awkward, scrawny, near-sighted nerds did not have the easiest time in middle school. You’d never know it by looking at me now (you totally would), but I had my fair share of bullying cast my way. I was never athletic, I wasn’t a skater, and I didn’t really fit with any other popular crowd. The one group I always meshed well with, of course, was the nerdy kids. Being a nerd in the late ’90s was a bad time to do it. After school, I usually would go home, read, and play video games. One of my favorites, all the way since 1998 when it hit the shores of these great United States, was Pokémon.
My brother and I picked up the Red and Blue versions when they first came out, because you gotta catch ‘em all and we ain’t no scrubs. We would spend hours after school playing, searching for new Pokémon, trading, and battling – or in my case, losing. As the younger sibling you just learn to accept these things. I could not, however, bring this enthusiasm of these little critters to school, because it wasn’t the popular thing to talk about. Before Halo came around and made video games badass, it wasn’t exactly popular to play them, and it definitely wasn’t cool to talk about them when you weren’t playing them.
Full of social graces as I am, I didn’t give a single solitary shit about what was popular. I wanted to talk about the fact that I just got a Dragonite. I wanted to spend recess battling my Pokémon with those of my friends. But anytime the topic came up around someone more well-adjusted than us, we would catch a lot of hell for it. We would get called nerds, losers, and other much more derogatory terms that twelve-year-olds probably can’t grasp the full weight of. Did this bother me? Sure. The one thing that it didn’t do, though, was stop me. I, being a 26-year-old married man who pretends to be a grown up on a semi-regular basis, have played every single generation of Pokémon. I’m fine with admitting that fact on the Internet, knowing full well that many people who read this might be the same kind of person who told me a decade and a half ago that I was a loser for getting excited about a game like Pokémon.
If you’ve been anywhere near the Internet this week, you may have heard that a little thing called Pokémon GO was just released. And it. Fucking. Exploded. That shit is everywhere. There are people who have never touched a Nintendo product who are acting like giddy little kids over this. The same people who treated me like shit are now getting excited that they found a Pikachu in their office.
You might think that would make someone like me kind of angry, right? Ten years ago I was lame for liking Pokémon and now they’re acting like it’s the coolest thing ever and they’ve always liked it? I was upset about it, if only for a moment. Then I realized that I shouldn’t be mad. I should be excited that something I like is now popular. I don’t want to get some sort of hipster satisfaction that I liked it before it was cool. Honestly, the thing that I get most excited about here is that kids in middle school now don’t have to get bullied over the same things I did. There’s someone out there who can now focus better on his homework because he’s not dreading going to school the next day.
So I’m not angry at all my bullies for going turncoat on Pokémon. In fact, I forgive them for the things they said to me when we were kids. I mean, twelve-year-olds are assholes, and who knows what might be popular in another ten years, right? So if you were a nerd who got bullied over something you were passionate about, consider forgiving your bullies. If you were one of those bullies, think about maybe breaking out the S-word. No, not “sorry”, we don’t give a fuck if you’re sorry. Just offer to trade us your Slowbro..