Go, Pokemon Go!

The social trend of this summer is definitely Pokemon Go.

I hadn’t heard anything about it until I started to see groups of people wandering around desolate locations looking at their phones. I mean, people look at their phones all the time, but these folks were traveling in packs. It was weird. A passenger finally explained the craze to me. Then I started seeing these people everywhere.

I’d just roll down my window and yell at meandering strangers, “Pokemon Go?”

“Yeah, dude!”

“Catch ’em all, bro!”

I don’t really understand the game. I’m too old to have experienced the original Pokemon phenomenon. But I don’t dislike it. I downloaded the app and caught a few creatures. It didn’t exactly grab me, but I get it. I like that it gets people out of the house and moving around. And I like the social element of it. Players tend to travel in packs. And when they meet up with other players, there’s this weird but happy sort of camaraderie that takes place. There’s a cool nonchalance about the game. People play it like addicts, but they know it’s kind of silly.

I picked up Tom, Alice and Ann at the Kelly’s Tavern in Haygood a few nights ago. They were catching critters in the parking lot when I arrived. They wanted to go to the Pagoda Garden in the Freemason area of Norfolk.

I’d already heard that the Pagoda was a Pokemon hot spot. My daughter and her fiance had been there the night before and described the scores of millennials who had made the Pagoda Pokemon pilgrimage. It was like a big, gregarious Poképarty.

Tom, Alice and Ann talked about the game all the way. They had just started playing and didn’t know much more about it than I did, but they were having a blast. They were giddy when I dropped them off and they saw gangs of iPhone-toting hipsters.

Later that night, I picked up two U.S. marines from the Oceanfront. They were heading back to base in Norfolk. They talked and played Pokemon in the backseat the whole ride.

“Dude, there’s a bulbasaur in the car! I’m catching that mother f–er!”

“Are you guys really playing Pokemon Go?” I asked.

“Hell yeah.”

“Frankly, I’m starting to fear for the security of our nation. I think this kind of thing may pose a threat to our military readiness.”

“Ha! Pokemon was huge when I was in elementary school.” One guy explained. “I played with the cards and watched the cartoon. When I heard the game was coming out, I was f-ing stoked. I downloaded it the first day.”

“I guess I just didn’t expect this to be the kind of thing a badass marine would get excited about. Is it the nostalgia?”

“Yeah. And it’s fun. We gotta get off the base to play, though. There’s no Pokestops on base.”

“That’s probably a good thing.” I said.


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