Clickbait intro: Target has pulled Pokémon cards from the shelves, and the reason might surprise you!
You might think, "It's because Pokémon is over?" Hah. Pokémon will never be over. Once upon a time, a million years ago, Daughter enjoyed collecting Pokémon cards. I enjoyed learning about the mythical creatures.
"This one's cute. Who is he?"
"Cubone. He's a sad Pokémon."
"I see that. What's he wearing on his head?"
"That is the skull of his mother."
You can look it up. The official Pokémon site says, "When the memory of its departed mother brings it to tears, its cries echo mournfully within the skull it wears on its head." For heaven's sake — in the entertainment of my youth, Bambi didn't drag his mother's pelt around the entire movie.
Your kids grow out of Pokémon, but you never forget the time in their lives when they were obsessed with the characters, video games, TV shows and cards. Every trip to Target meant another pack of cards, which were strategically located at the checkout: prime begging terrain.
Not anymore. Last week, Target and other stores temporarily removed the cards from the shelves, along with sports cards, because someone in Wisconsin pulled a gun on some people who tried to take his cards in the parking lot.
Mind you, the fracas was over sports cards, not Pokémon cards. But there are adults — and I use "adults" in the technical sense — who are very serious about Pokémon collectibles.
I'm curious about the mind-set of someone who arms himself before he heads off to buy some trading cards. Imagine that conversation in the kitchen.
Wife: "Honey, if you're going to Target, could you pick up some bleach? And a bleach pen. Oh, and some dryer sheets. The ones without scent, otherwise you get that rash, so if you do get the ones with the scent, get some hydrocortisone cream and save me a trip."
Husband (shrugging into his shoulder holster): "Woman, don't talk to me of such things. I've important work to do. Dangerous work."
Wife: "Well, if there's no bleach I'm not going to get that Ragu stain out of your shirt. The longer it stays in, the worse it is. And why are you taking your gun?"
Husband (nods stoically): "A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do, and this man has to get the latest shipment of trading cards."
Wife: "Are you going to take them from the stagecoach before it gets into town?"
Husband: "It's just for self-protection. Guy I know, last week, had a claim on a box at the Walmart, three lowdown sidewinders jumped him by the cart corral. I still remember some varmints ambushing my pappy outside of Shinders, back in the day. I stood over his body and vowed I'd never go the same way."
Wife: "Your father wasn't gunned down outside of Shinders."
Husband: "Well, no, he was tripped. But I'm still not taking any chances."
Wife: "Maybe you could get them on Amazon and not have to shoot anyone? I mean, prime delivery, and no court costs?"
Husband (gives wife a pitying look): "And maybe I could go on eBay and bid $10 on a Honus Wagner card from 1904. There ain't no other way."
(Six hours later, wife is talking to husband at the police station through a plexiglass barrier.)
Husband: "I'm sorry it had to go down like that. But I did get the bleach."
Wife: "But did you get the bleach pen like I asked?"
Husband: "In all the commotion, it slipped my mind."
Wife: "Fine, well, when you show up for trial and there's a big red spot on your shirt, don't blame me."
I confess to being unmoved by the plight of card-starved collectors, because I do not share that particular mania. But, I remember when a brand of cereal came with "3-D" sports cards, and I saved a few. By "3-D," I mean the image would change slightly when you turned the card from side to side. If the makers had been clever, they would have depicted the pitcher spitting a stream of chaw juice, but usually they just moved their head or hand.
I hung onto them for years because I believed they would be worth something someday. This seems a pallid reason for collecting things. You should collect something because it brings you joy, the way a special Pokémon card makes a child happy. Eventually, I threw out the cards, figuring that no mass-produced item could possibly be valuable.
Yes, I tossed them. Even the O.J. Simpson 3-D card, which now has a starting bid on a card-trading website of $999.
Wish I'd held onto that instead of my collection of engraved presidential portraits.